Carter teaches every subject except math to his students, as well as reading to the combined fifth and sixth grade. His approach to learning includes the use of classroom notebook computers, which students use for researching current events and news stories each week. Carter is also trying to prepare students for their next step in life, which is, for some, high school. “I’m not trying to program students with information in this classroom, I want students to become professional learners, instead.” While he holds the chalk and calls on students in the classroom, Carter believes that his students’ parents are his fellow educators. “If a parent is part of the classroom community it provides consistency in learning and strengthens accountability too.”
New physical education teacher Derek Cipriano’s approach to physical education is simple: Teach students they can live healthy, active lives in and out of his gym class, and give students a chance to score points in sports they may never have the chance to play anywhere else.
A recent graduate of the University of Vermont with a degree in physical education, Cipriano grew up playing sports, and was a three-sport athlete at Twin Valley High School in Wilmington. Cipriano played soccer, baseball, and basketball at Twin Valley and believes the more sports a child is exposed to the better.
Cipriano splits time teaching at Readsboro and Stamford Elementary on Thursdays and Fridays. With class sizes ranging from 10 to 18 students, he finds cooperation to be more important than competition. “Working on skills and developing relationships among students cooperatively, and not so much against each other, is important,” says Cipriano. “Through progression there may be places to insert a little competition, but it’s not always conducive in a school environment.”
Tailoring his philosophy to the realistic mental and physical abilities of each age group, Cipriano designs his classes to enhance each grade’s understanding of how sports are played, as well as the importance of being physical in and out of school. Younger students are learning new motor skills along with better spatial awareness, while older students participate in, and increase their knowledge of sports they can continue past elementary school.
To Cipriano, participating doesn’t just mean having a pair of sneakers.“I expect students to be ready to participate fully. No matter what skill level, I expect every student to try, because no matter what, if they try, they take something from it every time.”
While the unpredictability of Vermont weather will eventually be a hindrance to outdoor activities, Cipriano is trying to get his students outside as much as possible.
During the indoor-gym months, Cipriano plans on introducing as many sports as he can inside the school with the little room he has from the shared gym-cafeterias of each school.
“I want them (the students) to be part of a quality P.E. program, and help them value exercise so it’s something they continue.”