Harwood Union High School, located in Moretown, serves approximately 800 students from Duxbury, Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield, Warren, and Waterbury Vermont.
Harwood Union High School was one of the pioneering teams, who took the Communicating School Redesign Course during the 2013-14 school year. A larger team, including the Co-Principal and three students, enrolled in the CSR class during the 2014-15 school year to continue their work.
The 2014-15 Harwood Communications Team was comprised of: Cole Lavoie, Sophia Minter, Alexa Widschwenter, and Asah Whalen (students), Amy Rex (Co-Principal), Ellen Berrings (Next Step teacher and pioneering team member), and Marcus Grace (World Language teacher).
Harwood Union is committed to creating an equitable, personalized learning environment, rooted in a collectively developed vision for personalized learning. That vision begins with the student point of view: “I am a student who cares about my learning and needs to have ownership because how I want to learn matters.” The school believes that all students do care and that the core challenge is to ensure there is a pathway that inspires individual engagement, personal growth, and efficacy via relevancy, meaningful relationships and high, clearly articulated expectations for learning. The school aspires to offer as many pathways as they have students.
A critical component in the development of student pathways is ownership. Students must be provided an opportunity to participate in the personalization process along with the knowledge, resources and supports necessary to make informed pathway decisions. At Harwood, ownership is fostered through Personal Learning Plans (PLPs) supported by a network of adults who help students learn about their individual strengths, challenges, and interests; set goals; create a plan and carry it out; assess, reflect and revise that plan as needed. Student ownership is nurtured by the values, mindsets, and beliefs of the school culture, and the Communications Team contributes to student, staff, parent and community understanding through Community Forums and faculty-student Dialogue Circles.
The Harwood CSR team’s major accomplishment was orchestrating an all-school dialogue with all 800 students (both the middle and high school), with student facilitators taking a major role it its design and implementation. The “Student Voice and Choice: All School Dialogue Spring 2015” video below provides an excellent snapshot of this experience. The team collected schoolwide data in the process of this session, and then shared the findings with the school community. There was a notable shift in the school climate subsequent to this event. The inclusion of students as initiators in this effort reinforced the school’s commitment to elevating student voice in the change process and in learning itself.
The team secured funding to expand their communications efforts this 2015-2016 year. They have launched a community dialogue effort, in conjunction with Everyday Democracy, creating community-based study circles to explore school redesign. This work has been grounded by prior CSR work, utilizing the strategic framing approach and mental models research.
Student Voice & Choice: All School Dialogue Spring 2015: In the spring of 2015 Harwood held an all school dialogue day where both students and faculty members engaged in structured dialogue to better understand their perspectives of education at Harwood.
The Personalization of Learning: A video created by Harwood Union High School to introduce personalized learning plans.