The Marlboro School serves kindergarten through eighth grade students in the town of Marlboro and is located in the southernmost part of the Windham Central Supervisory Union (WCSU). Currently 78 students attend the school. Of the 78 students, 50% qualify for free or reduced price meals, down from 56% last year. Due to numbers and philosophy the school is organized into multiage classrooms with, for the 2014-15 school year, a kindergarten, 1st-2nd, 3rd-4th, 4th-5th, 5th-6th, and 7th-8th grade configuration. In the 2015-2016 school year one classroom will be eliminated and the configuration will be kindergarten, 1st-2nd, 3rd-4th, 5th-6th, and 7th-8th.
Additionally three and four year olds residing in Marlboro are eligible to receive ten hours/week of preschool education through a collaborative arrangement with local preschools, which is supported by the Marlboro School District under Act 62/116. The school is currently in conversation with the Meetinghouse School, a private preschool, regarding the possibility of becoming a public preschool within the Marlboro School.
Marlboro is typical of many small, rural Vermont schools. In the early 1990’s our enrollment peaked at 115 students. After that it declined to a low of 75 students during the 2003-2004 school year. We are currently maintaining an enrollment of 75-85. We anticipate starting the 2015-2016 school year with an enrollment of ?. In a small town it is challenging to make accurate projections as to future growth or decline.
In terms of governance we are our own school district and are overseen by a locally elected school board. The school enjoys a good reputation in the larger community and is a source of pride to townspeople. Our budgets continue to pass despite growing concerns about increasing property tax rates. We attract parentally placed tuition students from nearby towns and currently have 2 such students enrolled. We are carefully considering the different options for consolidation included in Act 36.
Although part of the Windham Central Supervisory Union (WCSU), we are isolated geographically and there are a number of ways in which we operate independently. Out of eight elementary schools we are the only one serving kindergarten through eighth grade. We have no designated high school. After eighth grade the town pays tuition, which families may use either for a public high school education or to put towards the cost of a private school. We are also independent of the supervisory union in our business practices as we manage our own budget and bookkeeping. We own and run our own school busses.
Marlboro has an exceptionally committed staff with little turnover of fulltime teachers. We have a strong connection with the graduate program in education at Antioch New England University. This is a great asset in attracting highly qualified teachers. In addition, all of our classroom teachers currently hold Highly Qualified designation from the state of Vermont. Currently there are three teachers who graduated from Marlboro College.
All professional staff has participated in the development and implementation of our local assessment plan. This plan is grounded in a definition of Learning Realms and creation of student portfolios that reflect students’ learning in these realms. 8th graders graduate after the successful completion of their portfolios as assessed by a panel of school staff members. As a Professional Learning Community we use Critical Friends Group protocols to guide our reflection on and work with portfolio assessment. Our professional development has also been supported by supervisory union initiatives such as Grade Level Assessment Meetings and training in implementation of the Common Core through Balanced Literacy and the Non-Negotiables of Math.
Meeting the academic and social-emotional needs of individual students is the essential goal at Marlboro. Development of a strong Educational Support Team (EST) process with Multi Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) has been a major asset in working towards this. In addition we have developed a model, which provides direct support by the Special Educator and the Instructional Support Teacher (Title I) both in the classroom and in resource rooms. This highly integrated model allows teachers to know students well, to follow students for several years, to collaborate effectively with classroom teachers, and to support students within their classroom environment. Structures in place to support this model include weekly grade level team meetings, EST meetings as needed, and weekly staff meetings. We recognize the importance of considering social, emotional, and behavioral skills as we support individual students.
Volunteerism at the Marlboro School is strong. Our Parents and Friends group engages parents in school activities and provides room parents to support teachers, students, and to welcome new families. Parent and community volunteers support the school and our students in many ways. Weekly reading to a class, working one on one with students, planning family activity nights, talking with students about their work in the community, fundraising, building a new playground – these are just a few of the ways we benefit from community support. In 1999 the Marlboro School Association was founded to provide resources for special projects that are beyond the scope of the annual budget.
Marlboro School benefits from a close relationship with Marlboro College, a four-year liberal arts college located in the town of Marlboro. In addition to having several teachers on staff who graduated from Marlboro College, each year there are a number of college students who hold work-study jobs at the school and, through Youth Services, there are as many as 7 college students (and one professor!) who serve as Big Brother and Big Sisters to our students. We are also aligned philosophically with our emphasis on knowing students well, addressing the needs of the whole child, experiential learning in the field, and progressive education.
In the fall of 2006 Marlboro officially affiliated with a national school reform movement, the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES). We recognized the need to connect with like-minded progressive schools and to expand our vision outwards. As a result we have organized our action planning and our professional development around the Ten Common Principles espoused by CES. In recent years this has led to an increased focus on school social climate and on the development of a local assessment plan using “Multiple Forms of Assessment”. With education in Vermont moving in this direction and providing support to schools in the form of a School Effectiveness Coordinator, we have developed a Continuous Improvement Plan (CIP) and we look forward to implementing Personalized Learning Plans in our 7th-8th grade in 2015-2016.
We also recognize the importance of supporting the development of healthy minds, bodies, and spirits through the implementation of the Marlboro After School Program (Lafter), the Healthy Snack (Breakfast) and Lunch Program, and the 3rd/4th grade classroom garden. Lafter, an after school program consisting of high quality activities ranging from mountain biking to computer programming, is in its second year with funding from a 21st Century Grant. Over 50% of our students participated in at least one session and many enrolled in several. The Breakfast and Lunch programs serve about 60 students a day. For the 2015-2016 school year we will be adding a Supper Program for students participating in after school programming. We will also offer the Free Fruits and Vegetables program to be served first thing in the morning.
As we analyze data from a wide variety of sources to review the needs of our students, we recognize that, in addition to the new goals and action steps set forth in our CIP and our Action Plan, current initiatives need time, support, and follow-through in order to be as effective as possible. All this is reflected in the following Title I School-wide CIP/Action Plan for 2015-2016.
Kathy Pell, coordinator of Healthy Snack/Lunch program
Celia Segar, former parent, current volunteer, and community representative
Judy Jarzombek Lang, Primary teacher
Tim Hayes, Junior High teacher
Francie Marbury, principal
Kendra Rickerby, School Effectiveness Coordinator for the Vermont Agency of Education