Message From Our Chairperson

Message From Our Chairperson

studentsTo the Communities of Braintree, Brookfield, and Randolph:

[Submitted by outgoing Board Chair Laura Rochat, February 2021]

It can be fairly said that 2020 has been an ideal year for students to develop and practice resiliency and adaptability, two of the long standing goals that we have set for them. Indeed, as a school district, as community members, families, staff, and students, we have what it takes to adapt to circumstances beyond our control, and we have proven it in the ways we have adjusted to remote learning, hybrid learning, and extended time at home. Our district has shown creativity in outreach to families, in providing meals to anyone under 18, in finding ways to ensure that all students have the technology necessary for virtual lessons, and in adapting classes to synchronous and non-synchronous teaching. Small group lessons, Advisory meetings, Senior Project presentations, gym classes - we have somehow found a way to keep it all going. Admittedly, the abrupt halt to the 2020 school year last March was a rough transition, but the experience and the lessons learned from it have helped our administrators and staff learn how to reach out to and educate students in this unfamiliar environment.

The OSSD Board has also had to adapt to the numerous changes this health crisis has generated. We have strived to listen to all of our constituents. We have held extra meetings to better understand the concerns and needs of those who live and work with us. We have spent hours working with our teachers and staff to provide working conditions that allow them to do their best work, and remain healthy while teaching both in person and from home. We have striven to find a balance between the needs of families and their children and the health concerns of our teachers and staff. These decisions have not been easy, but we believe that our balance of caution combined with our attention to detailed preventive measures has proven to be a wise course of action.

We are also working on developing a three year strategic plan for the district, and have engaged a facilitator from the VSBA to help guide this effort. We have identified three important goals that align with the OSSD administration and their vision for the future. One goal is the development of a true middle school that better addresses the specific educational and emotional needs of 6th, 7th and 8th grade students. Our second and third goals involve academic improvement in the high school while also focusing on high school climate and morale. Our strategic planning will involve community outreach, conversation, and input from as many interested parties as possible. This is a process we are excited to undertake. As a Board, we have long wanted to better engage the community in what we do.

I was fortunate to participate in the graduation exercises with the class of 2020, which was held in the parking lot of Vermont Technical College. The graduates drove up in festively decorated cars and trucks honking and waving. They pulled into every other parking space and listened to speakers sharing their remarks from a temporary platform. The speeches were broadcast over car radios. Horns beeped in applause and appreciation. It was just as joyous as any other high school graduation ceremony, perhaps even more so because of its uniqueness. It was the perfect expression of community coming together to celebrate our graduates, even though we couldn’t hug them or shake their hands.

The outpouring of care and concern this community shows its students is something we can all feel proud of. We thank you for your continued support and look forward to engaging with you in the coming year. To a better 2021!

Sincerely, Laura Rochat, OSSD Board Chair