Neighborhood Learning Conversations

In June of 2013, the Vermont legislature, in it’s efforts to secure a bright future for the state, signed into law Act 77, the Flexible Pathways Initiative. This legislation aims to “remodel” our education system for the realities of 21st century life by supporting students to achieve academic success, be prepared for postsecondary opportunities, and engage actively in civic life through the creation of personalized learning plans (PLPs).

In order to both raise awareness about this new legislation and gather your input on the process, we hosted a series of small community gatherings in Burlington and Winooski. The Neighborhood Learning Conversations(NLCs) created space for parents, teachers, students, and community members to come together and explore the potential of a more personalized education model.

Below we have compiled several of the most common suggestions from the feedback into a set of guiding principles to be considered throughout the upcoming PLP design process. This summarizes the responses of more than 160 participants.

Click Here to view the Full Report from our Spring 2014 NLCs

Common Themes:

  • Support: Students choose a small team of adults and peers who they trust, with whom they navigate the PLP process. E.g. teacher advisor, family member, community mentor, recent graduate
  • Continuity: The team supports students throughout PLP development, revision, execution and assessment
  • Communication: A point person connected with the school communicates regularly with the student and family
  • Accessibility: Methods of communication are flexible and on a case by case basis. Resources are in place to support and engage all families. E.g. a centralized website cataloguing opportunities, email, phone, home visits, multilingual liaisons
  • Community Engagement: Community need and resources both inform and enrich the PLP process. E.g. more service/experiential learning in middle school, community mentors, and internship coordinators
  • Student-centered: Students are the leaders and experts of their own PLPs. Team members exist to provide guidance and facilitate connections. E.g. student-led conferences
 In addition to these strategies, participants also noted potential roadblocks.  These can be grouped broadly into concerns about resources, including finances and teacher time; concerns about student motivation and direction; and concerns about family engagement and community support.

The Calendar of Neighborhood Learning Conversations held in the Spring of 2014

(Conversations marked in bold and with a star were open to the public.)

*Thursday, March 20 | 6:00-7:30 pm | Winooski Middle/High School | Personalized and Proficiency-Based Learning Implementation Team (Pilot Conversation)

*Wednesday, April 16 | 8:00-9:00 am | Bagel Cafe & Deli | Host: Mayor Miro Weinberger

Monday, April 28 | 7:00-8:30 pm | Burlington Center City

*Friday, May 2 | 3:30-5:00 pm | CCV Winooski | Host: Amy Stuart and Will Andrews

*Tuesday, May 6 | 6:30-8:00 pm | Flynn Elementary School | Host: Family-School Partnerships Implementation Team

Monday, May 12 | 10:00-11:30 am | Downtown Burlington

Monday, May 12 | 6:30-8:00 pm | Burlington South End

Tuesday, May 13 | 6:30-8:00 pm | Burlington South End

*Friday, May 16 | 6:00-7:30 pm | O’Brien Community Center | Host: Mike Decarreau

*Saturday, May 17 | 9:00-10:30 am | Sustainability Academy | Host: Charlie Giannoni

POSTPONED: Sunday, May 18 | 9:00-10:30 am | Host: Patrick Halladay and Miriam Stoll

Sunday, May 18 | 4:00-5:30 pm | Burlington South Cove

Tuesday, May 20 | 3:30-5:00 pm | Downtown Burlington

Thursday, May 22 | 6:30-8:00 pm | Burlington New North End

Thursday, May 22 | 6:30-8:00 pm | Burlington North Hill

Tentative: Tuesday, May 27 | 6:00-7:30 pm | Burlington New North End

Wednesday, May 28 | 7:00-8:30 pm | Burlington South End

Tentative: Thursday, May 29 | 6:00-7:30 pm | Winooski

*Tentative: Saturday, May 31 | 9:00-10:30 am | Location TBD | Host: Charlie Giannoni

*Tentative: Sunday, June 8 | 9:00-10:30 am | Location TBD | Host: Patrick Halladay and Miriam Stoll

Tentative: Monday, June 9 | 5:30-7:00 pm | Burlington Old North End

*Tuesday, June 10 | 12:00-1:30 pm | Contois Auditorium, City Hall | Greater Burlington Women’s Forum