Much to be proud of in city schools
“I want to be in school every day!”
A Rutland City second grader recently expressed himself enthusiastically with these words in a class assignment. He wrote excitedly in explanation: “I like to learn everything. In math, I learn how to add and subtract. Science is fun because we get to do experiments. I hope to make a volcano and I hope it doesn’t explode on me. The teachers, my friends and other activities make me have fun. That’s why I want to have school every day! Don’t you?” Yes, I do!
The accomplishments of our students, staff members and school leaders are many and varied and make us all proud to live in Rutland. Northwest and Northeast Primary Schools won recognition as gold medal winners in the statewide Wellness Program. Students at the Rutland Intermediate School take part in a very active Community Service Club, learning to “give forward” to their community. RIS also won national recognition for its outstanding Special Olympics Program. Once again this year, RIS and RMS students were winners in the Operation Military Kids poster contest and were recognized at the State House for their artistic talent and compassionate approach to classmates whose parents serve. These programs are actively led and supported by members of the fine arts, counseling and health/physical education departments.
The Rutland Middle School is a leader in the development of challenging interdisciplinary studies programs in social studies, English and world language, as well as in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math). Students are applying their learning to real world issues and problems and seeing the relevance and rigor of their studies. This approach is continued and extended at Rutland High School in a comprehensive and interdisciplinary project-based approach that has won state and national recognition. Students can pursue a STEM and/or global studies concentration, which is duly noted on their transcripts and college applications. RHS hosted the first-ever student/faculty led Global Initiatives Network conference in March, only the third such conference ever held in the United States. The development of the STEM Academy at RHS gives our students another distinct advantage as they prepare for college and/or the world of work. In collaboration with the Stafford Technical Center and the new STEM/robotics program, the sky is the limit for Rutland students. RHS offers 14 advanced-placement courses, the most of any high school in the region. We also offer one of the largest co-curricular programs in the state.
The schools in Rutland City are also known for an outstanding fine-arts program, K-12 and at Stafford Tech. Students in grades K-2 work with two very talented teachers in art and music who introduce our littlest ones to the joy of the arts. Walk through any of our schools and you will see student and faculty art work proudly displayed for all to see. At RIS and RMS, students take part in a varied instrumental program, leading to participation in band, jazz band, orchestra and a range of choral groups. Research clearly shows the positive benefits of participation in musical activities on academic performance. Students in grades seven through 12 regularly take part in district and state music festivals to wide acclaim. RHS and STC graduates have attended some of the foremost music conservatories in the nation.
In addition to the accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff members excel as well. A number of our teachers have achieved National Board Certification in their fields. This is a rigorous, voluntary program that recognizes master teachers in their respective fields. Teachers have been recognized as Middle School Science Teacher of the Year, Rowland Foundation Scholars (three in three years, an unheard of accomplishment for a Vermont high school), and a National Science Foundation Einstein Fellow. Rutland City school leaders have recently been recognized as the Special Education Director of the Year, Tech Center Director of the Year, Assistant Principal of the Year, and, most recently, the High School Principal of the Year. Great teachers and great leaders make for an outstanding school system.
RHS graduates are currently attending many of the finest colleges and universities across the nation. You have heard from some of these proud Rutlanders in the pages of the Rutland Herald over the past few weeks; students from MIT, Northeastern University, Emory and Elon Colleges, the University of South Carolina and UVM, to name just a few. Members of the class of 2014 at Rutland High School have been accepted at schools including UVM and Castleton, BU, Clemson, Tufts, Villanova, Bucknell and Wake Forest; some are entering into military service, still others will go right into the work force. All are well prepared.
So, to go back to our little second-grader who wants to be in school every day, so do I. There is so very much to be proud of about our schools in Rutland City. As a resident of Rutland for the past 15 years, I am proud to serve as your superintendent, and ask you to be sure to vote “yes” May 13 on the school budget.
Mary E. Moran is superintendent of the Rutland City Public Schools.