Rivendell Interstate school district click for home

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Monday, March 19, 2018


News from Keri Gelenian

Dear Rivendell Families,
We have had a very, very good first week of school. The seventh graders seem excited by the change to a new building and teachers. During our first all-school assembly, several seventh graders rushed onto the gym floor to take the microphone to give their opinions on a question that I had posed. We think that combining the 6th grade class at Samuel Morey last year helped make the transition much smoother for many of the students.

We are working to create self-directed individuals who know how to solve problems, set personally valuable goals and achieve those goals. As the trimester unfolds, the pressures of school will increase. We are coaching students to ask for help when life at schools starts to feel difficult. Advisors are students' advocates. Students can bring up issues directly with their advisors, teachers, or in the office. Learning to raise issues, analyze the problem and work productively toward a solution might be the most important skills students will learn at Rivendell.

 During the first weeks of school, we have had excellent conversations with students who approached us with problems or with alternatives to deal with situations that they didn't like. The issues related to how they feel they learn best, future career paths, or how to get on track to graduate. If your RA student is facing a problem, please
help them bring the problem to us. We will work with them to figure out a solution. In the process, they learn how to advocate for themselves.

Currently, all 9th and 10th grade students have school laptops. Gary Ackerman, our new Digital Project Leader, is moving RA to a digital platform for curriculum documents and instructional materials used in our classrooms. This means that students will only need to go to one place to access assignments and materials for their classes. We will also continue to use Google Docs as an instructional tool. The educational environment at RA will soon mirror what nearly all our students will experience when they are in college or technical schools.

We have also created a sixteen-station media lab with eight PC computers and eight Macs. Students and staff will now have more powerful tools to create their own media. The graphic design and digital photography classes will now have up-to-date equipment and the work from these classes will support the yearbook. Raptor Connections, our newspaper, will benefit, as will The Asterisk, our literary magazine produced by Visions.

Web Presence
We need your help. These days, people considering relocating to the area often use the information about local schools found on real estate websites to inform their decisions. Unfortunately, Rivendell Academy is not listed on many of these sites. This is a problem. Zillow, one of the largest real estate advertising sites, has a partnership with the school-rating site GreatSchools (www.greatschools.org) which is one of the biggest school rating sites in the country. It would be a great help if students and families went on the GreatSchools site and rated the Academy and submitted comments. Once you are on the GreatSchools site, type in "Rivendell Academy" and you will be directed to a page that allows you to rate the school. We are, however, listed on the US News and World Report site: http://www.usnews.com/education/best-highschools/vermont/rankings?int=9bcc082

Choose Your Own Adventure
Last year we used grant money to organize a day called Choose Your Own Adventure. We invited twelve people with interesting career paths to discuss their experiences and decisions that led them to their current careers. Small groups of eleven to twelve students rotated to hear four different speakers. This was not a "career fair." We wanted students to hear that even people who are very accomplished in their careers had to face many challenges and decisions as they worked their way though life. We also wanted students to hear how these people went about making their decisions. For example, one of our speakers originally wanted to be a teacher, but as he had different experiences, he discovered that teaching wasn't a good option for him. One speaker completed an undergraduate degree in engineering, but learned that he hated sitting behind a desk. His experience as a guardsman showed him that law enforcement was a perfect fit for him.

Our work with this theme extended into our summer reading. Each student chose his or her own biography to read and explored the obstacles and opportunities of the subject of the biography.
Now we have decided to weave the theme of Choose Your Own Adventure into the fabric of our curriculum by encour-aging students to spend a day away from school to explore an area of personal interest. For example, a student inter-ested in forestry could arrange to spend a day with a forester to learn more about the profession. Students are respon-sible for submitting a short digital reflection on their experience that will be posted on the school web site.

The process begins with a student approaching his or her advisor with an idea and using a protocol to brainstorm ideas for a Choose Your Own Adventure Day Proposal. Once the advisor accepts the proposal, it will go to parents or guardi-ans and the office for signatures. We are currently looking for grant money to help support travel.

A Great Start
The start of the school year has been terrific. Students seem happy to be back and are focused. They seem ready to continue the process of making RA their school. Our message has been that responsibility begets greater freedom and choice. We are committed to jointly creating a school that maximizes students' ability to set and achieve goals that are meaningful to them.

Keri Gelenian