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October 20, 2009

“Adam Fletcher’s work is especially relevant in getting young people to participate in the realms of politics and critical education.”   -Henry Giroux

Share an informal dinner and evening of

dialogue with


November 9, 2009

5:30 – 8:00 PM

Montpelier High School

Focus:  How do we build and maintain vital

youth-adult partnerships to promote more

democratic schools?

Adam Fletcher is a Seattle-based internationally renowned freelance writer, speaker and trainer who works with young people and adults around the world to promote new roles for children and youth throughout society.  For a complete biography of Adam’s story:

This event is sponsored by the Vermont Rural Partnership and the Vermont Principal’s Association. The event is free of charge, with donations toward dinner costs gladly accepted.


Our Visit of Nova High School in Seattle

October 20, 2009

Below is a Letter and Proposal to Nova High School

Marc Perry, principal, Jean, Lisann, Kelsey, Kira, and Helen

Marc Perry, principal, Jean, Lisann, Kelsey, Kira, and Helen

Dear Marc, Lisann, Kelsey, and Kira,

I first want to say thank you for being such gracious ambassadors of Nova High School!  Helen and I (the Vermonters that showed up on your doorsteps earlier this month) walked away hopeful and excited about your reflections and stories of the Nova experience.  We have both done a fair amount of research and reading on Student Voice and Student Engagement and it was so validating to see this theory in practice for so many years!

Over the last couple of weeks, since my return from Seattle, I have thought greatly about how I might summarize and share your stories of Nova with my school, Harwood Union High School.  My thoughts have focused on the the importance of process and outcomes in education. Your stories validated for me the importance of relationship building between students and adults which I personally believe is at the heart of school reform that is being sought nationally.  Emerging research is just now suggesting, what seems perhaps more than obvious to all of us, that students who have a strong relationship with their school tend to do better academically (Dana Mitra, 2002).

Read more…

Meeting Adam Fletcher and Seattle Visit

October 14, 2009

We have an incredible opportunity to meet with and learn from Adam Fletcher next month! Adam is a nationally recognized researcher on Meaningful Student Involvement (student voice) and understands the systems changes that are essential in our schools today. I have just returned with Helen Beattie (a sabbatical board member and educational consultant for Harwood, among other high schools throughout Vermont) from visiting Adam in Seattle, WA. Adam spent many hours with us and personally attended our visits to schools where this work was being practiced. I return excited and more committed to the work

Claire, a recent high school graduate from Black Hill H.S. who is now attending Evergreen College, was cadid about her experiences with student voice in her comprehensive high school.

Claire, a recent high school graduate from Black Hill H.S. who is now attending Evergreen College, was cadid about her experiences with student voice in her comprehensive high school. From left to right: Jean, Claire, Greg Williamson, Helen, and Adam Fletcher

that youth and adults must be engaged in together at Harwood. I believe that Harwood is ready for this work!

Based on Adam’s availability while here in Vermont next month, I propose that the advisory board meet on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009 from 8:30-12:00. I am currently looking into an off campus meeting place. I will send out another email once that venue is confirmed. It has come to my attention that the 1824 House is no longer in business so I will investigate this week alternative venues for us to convene.

The purpose of this meeting will be for us to all be on the same page in terms of what it means when we speak about Meaningful Student Involvement and genuinely valuing student voice in the day to day operations of Harwood Union High School. To use Adam’s words, “Simply calling something meaningful doesn’t make it so.” We have to focus on building stronger (more intentional) relationships between students and adults in our school. We need to engage our students in ethnography so that Read more…

The Democratization of Harwood Union High School

September 18, 2009

Rowland Foundation Proposal: Democratization of Harwood Union High Schoolcurrentfellows1

Jean R. Berthiaume
December 7, 2008

Challenge facing Harwood Union High School Students

Harwood Union High School, located in the Green Mountains of central Vermont, offers a traditional curriculum to 550 plus students with approximately 70 faculty and staff. Recently, Harwood has seen the benefits of student participation in service-learning, authentic assessments, increased participation in civic groups, and leadership bodies. Under new administration, Harwood is progressing instructionally. Yet, according to student and parent reports and objective survey data, Harwood remains a school that is still failing its’ students in terms of broad levels of engagement and application of skills.

The dilemma is that our school seems to have an inability to move forward and shed the shackles of the factory model adopted during the industrial age of education. Consequently, Harwood remains a school that struggles to provide a high quality education for a range of students. Unfortunately, many students are losing their love of learning, creativity, self-esteem, and sense of community because of this dilemma.

The challenge is to move Harwood, out of the dark ages, away from a school day comprised of eight forty minute periods which fractionalize meaningful education and stifle natural connections between people and learning. In contrast, we need to be answering the following questions. How can Harwood capitalize on this unprecedented age of communication, social networking, and technology and harness it for educational purposes? How can we engage our students in the democracy of the future? How can we build stronger bridges to better support students with their learning, faculty with their students, administration with their faculty, and together, all stakeholders, with the greater community of learning?

Read more…

Raising Student Voice and Student Engagement: Overview of Project

September 18, 2009

The “democratization of school” project will give students more opportunities to develop and use the skills, knowledgemission3, and dispositions that are integral to a vibrant and active democracy.  Harwood Union High School wants to integrate rigor, relevance, and relationship for the lives of their students and as a result increase student engagement.

This project focuses broadly on student voice and the role of ethnography in learning.  More specifically it seeks to include many best practices that will ultimately increase opportunities for student voice in their schools and greater communities.  For example, future curriculum will be developed collaboratively between teachers, students and community.  Students will participate in the responsibilities of auditing, researching, and assessing needs for school reform.  Finally, students will strive to understand themselves relative to the various communities they interact with both virtually and for real.  In doing so they will become stronger democratic citizens that will not only seek to improve the world around them for themselves, but also for others around them.