Teachers teaching during COVID


Melissa Chancey, a teacher at Woodford Hollow Elementary, speaks about the challenges of teaching remotely, and in person, during the pandemic, on December 21, 2020. Chancey will take on the role of school supervisor when school begins.

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BENNINGTON — The Southwest Vermont Union Elementary School District school board approved a two-part plan to fill the principal position at Woodford Elementary School at its board meeting this week.

Sandy Foster retired as Woodford principal at the end of the last school year. Foster was a part-time teacher and a part-time principal. But under union rules going forward, the district could couldn’t fill the role with a similar position, according to Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union superintendent James Culkeen.

“You shouldn’t have a union member as a supervisor, because they can’t do evaluations of their own members,” Culkeen said at the board meeting on Tuesday evening. “This gave us a chance to think differently on how we would fill [the position] and administrate the school.”

By a unanimous vote, after an explanation of the plan, the board agreed to make classroom teacher Melissa Chancey the Woodford School Supervisor and have Shaftsbury Elementary School principal Jeff Johnson as the “principal of record,” according to Culkeen.

School begins for students from kindergarten through ninth grade on August 25.

“We had skirted along and hadn’t addressed the issue until now,” Culkeen said to the board.

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Both Chancey and Johnson will receive a stipend for their new jobs. There will also be a new full-time teaching position at Woodford, a job posting that closed on July 30.

“No one is more loyal to the school than Melissa, and Jeff said that he wanted to [take on the new role],” Culkeen said. “They’ll work well together.”

On a daily basis, Chancey will be the point of contact at the school, but Johnson will be available for anything requiring a principal.

“We had other applicants, but Jeff has years of experience as a principal and the flexibility to be available,” Culkeen said. “Also, with a new vice principal position shared between Pownal and Shaftsbury, he can leave the building if an emergency comes up.”

After the vote, board member Dick Frantz said that the plan made sense.

“This was really thoughtful consideration on how to do it, a sound way to solve the issue,” Frantz said.

Adam Samrov can be reached at asamrov@benningtonbanner.com or on Twitter @banner_sports

Adam Samrov is the community news editor and part-time news reporter for the Bennington Banner. He has been at the Banner since 2008. He can be reached at asamrov@benningtonbanner.com


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