Bennington schools make final preparations for students' return

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BENNINGTON >> The principals of Bennington's three elementary schools are making final preparations before school begins on Aug. 29.

"It's hard to believe that I've been here a month already, and I hear a rumor that school is about to start," said new Molly Stark Principal Michael Mugits, "But we'll be ready." He said he had taken advantage of Molly Stark's summer programming to meet some of the students and staff. He said he's been working with Assistant Principal Gail Johnson, who he jokingly urged the board not to let retire at the end of this school year, to learn more about the school's history and culture before students return.

After meetings between the principals, assistant superintendent Donna Leep, and curriculum director Laura Boudreau, the schools also requested the Bennington School Board on Wednesday review a new position, a teacher leader for literacy who would serve Molly Stark and Bennington elementary schools.

"You have a reading position at Monument, but you do not have this position at Molly Stark or Bennington Elementary," said Superintendent Jim Culkeen. Funding for the position would come from Title I and Title II aid grants, and would use no local dollars. "There are restrictions on how we can use this money," he continued, "We can't use it on interventionists any longer, so the proposal is to fund a literacy leader for both buildings."

"This will allow someone with specific expertise at reading instruction to provide assistance, in terms of interpreting data and breathing life into data by turning it into information, because the test scores on their own are lifeless until someone can interpret them, disaggregate the data, and inform instruction," said Mugits, "They also will be able to model teaching practices and effectively mentor our teachers in delivery of reading. It gives that individual the flexibility not to be anchored into a classroom, but to be working with the staff, providing curriculum development, providing assistance, and making sure that we can use the data and convert it into instructional practices."

According to the job description approved by the board, the ideal candidate would have at least five years of in-classroom experience, a master's degree in reading or literacy, and possess advanced accounting, financial, and analytical skills.

Bennington Elementary Principal Jim Law delivered a written report to the board on the school's status. "We have been busy filling a number of teacher vacancies," said Law, "We are pleased with the candidates we have been able to find and look forward to them joining our faculty. During the last few days of June we had a team meet together, along with other schools in the district, to complete out Comprehensive Integrated Three Tiered System of Support. We are pleased with the work we accomplished and look forward to implementing the plan as we start school. This system works hand in hand with our Positive Behavior Interventions procedures. We will be providing detailed information to parents requesting their support in this system. Building cleaning and maintenance has been taking place. All should be ready for opening barring any unforeseen circumstances."

The Bennington School Board meets the first Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. in the either music room at Bennington Elementary, the auditorium at Monument Elementary, or the library of the Molly Stark School, depending on the month. Full recordings of their meetings are available on Catamount Access Television, and on the station's YouTube page.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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