The Partnership awards mini-grants to strengthen family-school partnerships and community-school connections

Above: Winooski students “spring into arts” with the help of community partners.

Throughout May and June, the Partnership for Change is funding a number of new projects that help to promote positive change in Winooski and Burlington schools. These projects focus on strengthening our schools’ partnerships with families and community organizations in order to better prepare all learners for success in today’s world.

Earlier this spring, the Partnership’s Community-Based Learning and Family-School Partnerships Implementation Teams announced that they were accepting proposals for mini-grants that build community-school connections and involve families in student learning. Through these mini-grants, the Teams are helping students, teachers, and community partners to implement innovative ideas and build a foundation on which more widespread change can grow.

Expanding learning opportunities across the community and giving families a voice in education are two main goals of the Partnership for Change. Brain research reveals that students retain new concepts when they are relevant to the real world. Similarly, research shows that student outcomes improve when families are engaged in the learning process. As a result, enhancing our schools’ connections with families and the community is essential as we work toward an educational system in which all students graduate well prepared for success in today’s world.

Thirteen mini-grant proposals have received funding for activities to take place before June 30, 2013. The approved proposals seek to address a variety of goals, from better supporting the transition from high school to postsecondary life to providing innovative opportunities for teacher learning. The projects engage a wide range of stakeholders, including students, parents, teachers, local colleges, area businesses, and other community partners. These projects support work that is happening in both Winooski and Burlington, as well as work that strengthens the partnership between the two communities.

“There is a wide diversity of interest and motivation to take a step in changing our schools’ culture and methodology,” said Kim Ead, Community-Based Learning Implementation Team Co-Chair and Career Development Coordinator at Winooski High School. “I think [these mini-grants] will expand what teachers, students, and community members see as possible.”

Below is a short description of each project that is being funded by a Partnership for Change mini-grant.

Spring into Arts

From May 20 through May 23, community partners are supporting learning in the arts by showcasing the artwork of WMHS students in downtown Winooski businesses and community centers.

Spring into Arts 4   Spring into Arts 3

Homework Help at the O’Brien Community Center

In May and June, community members are providing homework support for ELL students at the O’Brien Center. This project is an exciting step toward the implementation of a sustainable, yearlong tutoring program at the O’Brien Center.

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps Food and Farm Program:

Thirty WMHS students are celebrating how food brings communities together through a six-week afterschool program at Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. Participating students will gain real-world skills, build strong relationships, and have the opportunity for further learning through a 12-week farm share.

Want to see real-world, community-based learning in action? Watch this video:

For more highlights, check out this slideshow of photos:

Peace Jam!

Throughout the month of May, the WHS Peace Jam! Club is conducting participatory action research to report on the club’s experience, interests, and goals. This research will inform the creation of a cross-district Winooski-Burlington Peace Jam! Club.

Burlington-Quebec Partnership

At a two-day conference with the Quebec Association of Teachers of French as a Second Language, a BHS French teacher built relationships with students and French partners abroad. She will share her learning with our local communities and is eager to implement what she learned in the classroom next year.

YES Yoga

In Yoga Basics, a course in the Year End Studies program at BHS, students will be able to take yoga classes at various local studios. Not only will this opportunity introduce students to the health and relaxation benefits of yoga, it will begin to build a connection between the school and Burlington’s yoga community.

ELL Summit

On May 14, community and higher education partners joined secondary educators for a summit on how to bridge the gap between high school and college for ELL students. This conversation is a first step toward building stronger relationships with the postsecondary resources in our community.

Vermont Teacher Internships

Navicate (formerly Linking Learning to Life) is offering teachers the opportunity to participate in credit-bearing summer internships with local businesses and organizations. Through these internships, teachers will develop connections with community partners and return to their classrooms with a new perspective. Learn how to apply.

Opening Doors to Postsecondary Options

Starting in mid-May and continuing through June, ELL parents have the opportunity to participate in informational trips to Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC), Vermont Adult Learning, the Community College of Vermont, and other area resources that can provide students with increased postsecondary opportunities.

Learning Walks

Throughout June, parents, administrators, guidance counselors, teachers, family-school liaisons, community partners, and others are coming together for learning walks that aim to build bridges between Winooski families and schools. To learn more, contact Winooski Family School Partnership Coordinator Anera Foco at

Family Friendly Progress Report for ELL Students

ELL teachers, multi-lingual liaisons, and Principal Amy Mellencamp are working to develop a new progress report for ELL students at BHS. Based on feedback from New American families and students, the new report will be designed to illustrate how a student’s progress relates to college and career readiness.

“Make a Change” Community Night

On May 21, English classes in the BHS 9th Grade Academy are inviting teachers, families, and community members to celebrate student work for a unit of study entitled “Making a Change.” Students will present work they have completed over the past month to research and address issues of race, gender, sexuality, and class.

Anti-Bullying Play at Milton Middle School

Under the guidance of a local parent and theater expert, a group of 9th-grade students at BHS performed an original play about bullying for middle school students in our community. This experience helped build a connection between BHS and the district’s middle schools as well as a strong partnership with an expert in the community.