In Education Matters, most faculty and staff members are excited to get back to work. Some students, maybe not so much. But Wednesday does mark the start of the new year for many in Vermont.
"It's amazing how quickly we all just roll back into the routine and get down to work," said Willie Lee.
It was back to class for students at Browns River Middle School in Jericho. "We've got over 400 kids in the building, 400 different personalities, 400 different learning styles," added Principal Kevin Hamilton. He's been steering the Browns River Ship for 8 years. He always has renewed energy when classrooms are full, "We do have out PLP's, our Personalized Learning Plans, that students are working on. They start to think about the future as they move through here and what opportunities they want to seek out as young adults," he said.
"There's a lot of discovery about who they are and who they want to be. I think middle school offers a great time to try a lot of different things. You're not fixed into anything yet," stated Lee. Back in the design lab, Lee, the school's Design Technology Teacher, got the year started with a motion-based challenge for his 7th graders. With a background in math and science, e loves sharing his passion for 'Steam'. "It's the educational corner-stone of all that great creativity that comes from not just the areas of math and science and technology, but also from art, bringing all those fields together," said Lee.
He says Browns River's tech lab has come a long way in just a few years. An anonymous $20,000 donation allowed for the school to buy two 3D printers, a laser cutter, and robotic CNC machine. "Anyone can be a designer, as long as they have a great idea. Making something isn't just for people who learned who to machine things or went to school for that," explained Lee.
But no matter how many new toys the school gets, the two agree it's all about the students. "That power of our words is pretty important especially at the middle school level it's making sure that we're thinking about what we're saying to kids and how we're interacting with those kids," said Hamilton.
Browns River Middle School has a student body of 400 this year. Principal Hamilton says that's right on par with their usual student numbers.
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