2018 Principal's Report

“Education is a social process; education is growth; education is not preparation for life but is life itself.” -John Dewey

While I remain honored as ever to continue in the role of principal, proud of what we’ve accomplished and excited about the future of our school, this has been a challenging year to write this report.
Now, more than ever, schools are at the center of statewide debate as we are enveloped by discussions about funding, structure, and ever-continuing legislative mandates. Admittedly, these growing challenges caused me to do what we coach our students to avoid – procrastinate. As the Sunday evening before the absolute printing deadline arrived, I headed to campus to seek clarity and focus, and instead found an exciting hive of activity. 14 middle school students were engaged in an impromptu pickup game of basketball in the gym, empowered by community volunteers. The Limes, our high school band, had just finished a show with a nationally known band from Nashville, and at least one teacher was hard at work, preparing his classroom for the week ahead. As I sat down to join several of our students and parents, the guest artists, and two beloved former teachers (by video chat) for after-concert chess, root beer and pizza, it was clearer than ever that at our very core, Cabot School is about building and maintaining community.

Our school’s core values are respect, responsibility, kindness, and engagement. Within those four areas lies the blueprint for a strong, stable educational community. Rigorous academics, a safe and welcoming learning environment, the potential to take risks and learn from our mistakes, and relevant, real-world experiences can all be found within these simple yet powerful themes.

Educational researcher Carol Dweck tells us that “growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way…everyone can change and grow through application and experience.” Indeed, this has been a year for us to focus our own growth mindset as a school, changing and adapting, guided by our values to meet the needs of our changing population. Here are some of our growth areas for the year:

- With an elementary school population increasingly affected by trauma and adverse childhood experiences, we’ve reinvigorated positive behavioral supports, coaching our youngest children on how to be more available for learning and providing praise and rewards for their active role in making the learning environment a positive one. This work is spearheaded by Elissa Sorrentino, our Washington County Mental Health positive behavior clinician. Our partnership with WCMH allows us to leverage Medicaid funding for Elissa’s position, and we have already seen the beneficial effects of her work with many students.

- Our middle school team has worked with UVM’s Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education to create Cabot Leads, a school-based jobs program that teaches new skills, cultivates confidence, voice, and responsibility, and ultimately impacts how students see themselves as learners. Every student in grades 5-8 has a job on campus, and had to apply by crafting a resume and cover letter, as well as interviewing for the position. The kids love it, and their work is real and meaningful.

- Academic interventionists Taeryn Robbins and MJ Wright are, in addition to working with small student groups, coaching teachers in adapting classroom instruction to meet the needs of struggling learners in the regular education classroom environment. Both are incredibly strong educators, and we are fortunate to have their leadership and guidance in our core academic areas.

- Our school breakfast and lunch program is top notch! Brock Miller, proprietor of Cabot’s own Back Road BBQ has taken over as food service director, and is focusing on cooking delicious food from scratch with a strong emphasis on simple, healthy, quality ingredients. Brock has re-established partnerships with Green Mountain Farm to School and local vendors, and is saving money in the process, by eliminating prepared, pre-packaged options. Most importantly, the kitchen has become an inviting, educational center of our campus, with students frequently choosing to participate in the preparation and serving of meals. Cabot participates in the federal “Provision 2” program, which provides breakfast and lunch free of charge for all students, regardless of ability to pay.

- As our high school program continues to evolve and shift, we bid a grateful farewell to Julia Hewitt, our longtime English teacher. We wish Julia well in her retirement and give thanks for her plethora of contributions to our community over the past 33 years.

This is a time of change, of growth, and of debate about the best path forward for the future of our school. What is certain to me is that no matter our structure, Cabot School will continue to provide students with a strong and unique community, of which to be truly proud. I invite you to learn more about our school through social media (facebook.com/cabotschool or instagram.com/cabotschoolvt), or by calling my office to schedule an in-person visit to our classrooms.

Dave's Casual Signature
David Schilling
Principal, Cabot School

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