Home     Admissions    Our School    Handbook    Learning    Art at Stevens    Giving    Alumni    In the News     Contact Us



Mission Statement

 The Stevens School is a community of diverse learners and teachers dedicated to academic excellence, joy in learning, responsible citizenship, and personal growth.  Together we:

            ~ grow intellectually, physically, and artistically;

            ~ fulfill our civic duties;

            ~ embrace human diversity; and,

            ~ thrive in a complex world.




The School’s mission and the principles of the First Amendment Schools Network provide the overarching goals for the curriculum and the school culture. Incorporating the concepts of integrated curricula, flexible scheduling, and individual attention, the School recognizes that success fosters success and that authentic self-esteem is acquired through authentic achievement. Thus the School focuses on building legitimate student achievement with ongoing student assessments.   The faculty and staff commit themselves to the belief that all students can learn and achieve at high levels when given the skills and the opportunity.


The comprehensive curriculum focuses on the content knowledge that students are expected to have mastered prior to the high school years and trains students in the skills needed to locate, organize, analyze, and synthesize that knowledge.  Because the School views community involvement as a mark of responsible, social maturity, it reaches out to the local community and beyond, bringing members into the School to share their expertise and wisdom in a variety of ways.  The learning environment encourages dedication to hard work, to recognizing and correcting mistakes, and to practicing thoughtful, civil, social behavior.  The School believes that in learning to meet these high expectations, its students will strengthen their own growing sense of self and self-respect, will enthusiastically pursue academic excellence, and will interact in an ever more responsible and mature manner with their families and friends.


Recognizing the rapid growth of students during these years, the School clusters the students according to their developmental needs.


Elementary:  Grades 1-4

Elementary grades are structured around the developmental stages of learning developed by Jean Piaget.  It is in these early years that young students define themselves as eager learners or strugglers.  By creating authentic learning experiences grounded in specific content requirements and using direct skill-based instruction, the teachers provide an environment in which each student views himself or herself as an active learner.  Students connect the experience of exploration with learning, acquiring and developing skills that allow them to demonstrate their learning through written work, oral presentation, computation, and computer technology.  Skills and content build upon one another as the students expand their understanding of school, citizenship, and responsibility.


The Middle School:  Grades 5-8

Although the middle school years have been defined as turbulent, stressful, roller-coaster years, the Stevens School views them as transformational.  These are the years in which students begin to discover their unique talents and skills; years in which they assert their judgments about what is right and wrong, fair and unfair; years in which they are eager to ascertain their place in their community and the larger world. 


The middle school grades are designed to support and assist in the development of those discoveries.  The curriculum challenges the adolescent’s emerging abstract thinking and encourages him or her to pursue ideas with vigor.  The course content addresses the adolescent need to explore a range of ideas and issues, and the need to wrestle with the great ideas of justice, truth, beauty, courage, and power.


The School recognizes that its students are driven by a great energy to explore the world and forge an individual identity.  To engage this energy and stretch its students' intellectual capabilities, the School offers a range of educational challenges of both depth and complexity.  Its comprehensive curriculum focuses on the content knowledge that students are expected to have mastered prior to the high school years and trains students in the skills needed to locate, organize, analyze and synthesize that knowledge.  And because the School views community involvement as a mark of responsible, social maturity, it reaches out to the local community and beyond, bringing members into the School to share their expertise and wisdom and involving students in community service.


The School focuses on building legitimate student achievement with student evaluations culminating in trimester grades that are supplemented with interim reports.


Sustaining a Respectful Community

The Stevens School believes that education must not only provide knowledge but also  cultivate knowledgeable people who participate responsibly in a democratic society, citizens who use information to solve problems and to promote ideas.   The work of John Dewey and Mortimer Adler underscore the School’s philosophy of education.  Both philosophers suggest that the transfer of knowledge is only part of the role of schools. Thinking, reflecting on factual information, finding cross-connections and “mutual” points of contact create citizens able to function equitably in their communities. School environments in which thinking reflectively can occur on a daily basis teach students to become citizens of their nation and of their world.  Such an environment requires commitment on the part of all members of a school community to provide opportunities of time and experience for students to feel safe enough to reflect honestly on their behavior and to weigh the impact of their behavior on the larger community.  The School accepts that in any human interaction conflicts will arise and has developed a number of formal and informal ways to foster responsible, compassionate behavior. 

In 2005 the Stevens School joined the national network of First Amendment Schools.  The network schools are “designed to transform how schools teach and practice the rights and responsibilities of citizenship that frame civic life in our democracy.”  Their vision that the “five freedoms protected by the First Amendment are a cornerstone of American democracy and essential for citizenship in a diverse society” dovetails with the Stevens School mission to prepare students who fulfill their “civic duties; embrace human diversity; and thrive in a complex world.”


Resolving student interpersonal conflicts through the prism of civic duty provides a broad context for students to examine their behavior in terms of the school community and how the group works as a whole unit.  Teachers work to ensure that all voices are heard and students participate in the resolution of any problems.  The School mission, the idea that responsibility is necessary to maintain democratic ideals, and the importance of respect for self and others are all used to resolve conflict and reestablish the intellectual and emotional safety that promotes critical thinking.


If there are ongoing issues between and among students, the School is prepared to interrupt the schedule, open a forum for discussion, and to provide time for students to openly process their grievances.  Once students are aware of this process and have experienced it, they become more able self-govern their interactions with others.


The first week of school is devoted to an orientation of our academic and our citizenship standards and expectations.  Students participate in a number of team-building exercises and a workshop designed by the American Civil Liberties Union called the Pyramid of Hate.  During this workshop students work in groups discussing the various types of name-calling, stereotyping, exclusion, and rumor that they have experienced both as a perpetrator and as a victim.  Large and small group discussions suggest ways to avoid such behaviors and the benefits to becoming an inclusive person.  The orientation activities serve as touchstones throughout the year as issues or conflicts arise.


The focus is always on becoming citizens who are able to “thrive in a complex world.”




The School is committed to providing students with the expected core requirements and skills needed to make a smooth and successful transition to high school.  The teachers emphasize a solid foundation of knowledge that prepares students for the more demanding work of high school. 


The curriculum integrates the subject areas of history, art, and English so that students develop a deeper understanding of the events and ideas that shape the world in which they live.  Each grade looks at the materials and the values that produced works of art, literature, and laws characteristic of that particular location and time. 


The School encourages students to expand their vocabulary to include the literary, historical, mathematical, and scientific terminology that they will be expected to use throughout their academic careers.


The following pages represent an overview for each of the subject areas offered at the School.


Art Program

The study and practice of the visual arts function as a keystone for understanding and analyzing the content areas of science, math, history, and language at The Stevens School.

Humans have created visual art at least since they organized into groups.  Whether by scratching hieroglyphics on stone, building temples, painting murals, telling stories, weaving tapestries, sculpting images or decorating the tools used in daily life, people have expressed their values, hopes, and fears through art.


Over the centuries art and artists have provided work that both affirms and questions the values of the society from which they come.  Students examine the work and analyze it with regard to the time and events that produced it.  Working with art in this way adds a rich layer of understanding of the political and social movements that shape nations.  Students connect the visual image to the poetic image to the historical image and circle back again, broadening and deepening their perspective of the world around them.


The academic impact of deep art experiences is revealed in the study entitled Critical Evidence:  How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement commissioned by the national Assembly of State Arts Agencies and the Arts Education Partnership.  Joining art study with other core content areas allows for what cognitive psychologists identify as “transfer”:  the notion that “learning in one context assists learning in a different context.”  Our students have distinguished themselves in contests, in classrooms, and in community service.  We believe that it is the systemic integration of art and art history that has developed their thoughtful response to school and society.


The sketch program asks students to create a drawing per week based on the classical principle of using light to create form, continuously developing and applying techniques passed down from the old masters.


Art is required as a core subject area at The Stevens School, which means that each student in grades five through eight spends three periods per week, two hours and fifty minutes, engaged in the study and production of art.


The elementary grades study the fundamentals of art to acquire a foundation for the more comprehensive study and practice in the upper grades.


English Program

The language arts encompass all aspects of the English language with emphasis on their application across the curriculum.  Instruction focuses on enhancing the use of language in the four recognized strands of reading, writing, speaking, and listening.  These strands are structured to enable students to:

1)         acquire information, understand relationships, and analyze through critical reading,            listening and viewing;

2)         use language for creative thinking, speaking, writing, and problem solving;

3)         use language to communicate ideas, emotions, opinions, experiences, and information;

4)         use language to engage with literature as a way to understand universal human       experiences, finding power and beauty within language.


The Writing Component of the English Program       

The Stevens School offers a strong writing program based on the idea that good writing develops over time.  Students learn that drafting and revising are essential to written work.  They are immersed in a language-rich environment and given the time and the instruction to prepare written work that meets a variety of purposes and represents quality of thought.  Students practice this process in all areas of curricular work and understand that good writing is necessary in all areas of communication, not just for English classes.


Each writing assignment, long or short, informative or entertaining, is accompanied by a list of core elements that define it as a certain type of writing.   Creating a finished product of writing involves several steps and revisions.


Students are gradually moved from the textbook to the use of primary documents to write document based essays explaining historical events, evaluating arguments, and analyzing texts  They learn to use the text, whether fiction or non-fiction, as evidence to support their interpretations and points of view. 


The Schools wants to develop in its writers the notion that writing takes time and practice.  Ideas must be filled out with substance and reduced of excess; a balance between the idea and the writing is best established through drafting and revising and talking about the work with others involved in the same process.


Finally, the writing program assists students in acquiring the  awareness to “read as writers,” enhancing their analytical approach to the text.


Integrated Studies

The international nature of economics and politics requires students of the twenty first century to grasp the interconnection of ideas, aspirations, and fears of peoples from around the globe.


On behalf of preparing students to function in a complex world, The Stevens School integrates art, history, and English throughout the grades.  To understand fully the ethos of any culture, it is necessary to explore the ideas and values expressed in their art, literature, politics, and customs.  Presenting students with a multi-disciplinary course promotes depth and breadth of understanding as they view the complexity of global events, and provides an opportunity to wrestle with the “big ideas’ of human development.  Integrating knowledge increases the skills for researching, analyzing, and synthesizing information in order to evaluate differing points of view, to debate ideas, and to make conclusions about national and global events.


Each grade focuses topically on a time and a place and examines the literature, art, political institutions, architecture, and traditions that have shaped the contemporary world.


Math Program

The math program is grounded in the belief that math is a language which is purposeful, meaningful, and perpetual.  Students’ ability to communicate successfully in this language stems from an understanding of math’s basic operations.  Thus, our program places a strong emphasis early in developing proficiency with the “math facts.”  These include addition and subtraction of compatible numbers as well as the multiplication tables.  Emphasis is also placed on the ability to express thoughts in an organized, coherent manner.  Proficiency in the fundamentals of mathematics enables a student to move toward exploration into higher levels of independent mathematical thinking.  Math ultimately gives a student the ability to describe and predict change in order to make informed decisions about our world.


A Pre-Algebra course begins in seventh grade followed by an Algebra 1 course aligned with high school math programs.


The students compete in the annual MathCounts program and the teams have won first place in the region for several years.


Science Program

The science program is built around hands–on, field based science in the fall and spring dovetailed with more traditional project-based science topics in the winter.  Students learn to use the scientific method to create and test a hypothesis and to analyze what they have learned by writing meaningful conclusions. In all grades Students are challenged to become good scientific observers by learning to draw what they observe.


In addition, students gain appreciation for their natural environment by working on outdoor projects such as trail building, tree stand improvement, wildlife habitat enhancement, and stream restoration.


Language Program

As of January 2011 the school is redesigning its language program.  Both French and Spanish will continue to be offered.  The School is evaluating textbooks and methodologies to put into place in the Fall of 2012.


Music Program

The Stevens School offers individual instrumental instruction to all interested students.  The students perform as soloists, duets, quartets, and ensemble two times per year.  Several students participate in the annual statewide music festival.


Physical Education Program

The physical education program includes a wide range of activities that encourage health, flexibility, and team behaviors.  The School participated in the Burke Mountain Ski Program during the months of January to March.


Technology Program

Technological literacy is valued across the curriculum at The Stevens School and is used for research, communication, and creative expression.



First and Second Combined Grade:  The School was approved to offer second grade for the 2010-11 school year.  A proposed curriculum for first grade approval from the Vermont Department of Education contains the following content and skills to be developed.


English Language Arts: Texts:  The SRA Imagine It!, Saxon Phonics and Spelling K-2,  The foundational text is the series published by SRA McGraw Hill, a standards-based reading series for grades K-6.  Building a strong foundation for literacy involves a number of activities that assist the student with word identification, the process of determining the pronunciation and meaning of a word.  The Basal reader provides a basis from with to provide students with new genres or themes as they learn to read.  The addition of trade books:   fiction, poetry, biography expands the world of the student reader.  The reading series builds student skills from early reading up to fourth grade.  Reading aloud is practiced daily and students respond orally to comprehension questions.  Students learn the skills necessary for reading for information and reading for entertainment.  Series offers thematic units such as I’m Special, I’m Responsible, Our Neighborhood.  Student workbooks accompany the text and are used to develop vocabulary, grammar, and spelling skills.


Social Studies: Text:  People and Places, and We Live Together both by MacMillan/

McGraw-Hill. Students focus on the various ways in which humans create self-governing communities that provide for  education, health, safety, identity, and civic participation.   They generate an understanding of their own community, their place within it, and how they and their community have a relationship with the world.  Students learn that families exist around the plane, but in a variety of ways and configurations.  The ways that families live and participate in their communities is called customs.  Students learn the appropriate vocabulary for studying people and places.


Math:  Textbook: MathConnects, MacMillan/McGraw-Hill, supplemented with a student workbook.  Students learn to identify and compare numbers.  They learn to write numbers, and understand values, and acquire the appropriate vocabulary for computing and problem solving with numbers.  They begin to acquire a “number sense” that accompanies a variety of arithmetic skills.


Science:  In keeping with the outdoor field science program, students walk in forest, field, and wetland developing the skills of observation.  Year A:  Students examine the relationships of living organisms with their environment, such as shy certain trees grow in certain places.  Simple experiments teach scientific concepts, for example, students will cover a section of a grass with a board to see what happens when the sun is blocked/  Students will grow vegetables from seed to understand the growth of plants.  Student will learn to draw simple illustrations of living organisms.  Year B:  Students continue to develop the skills of observation and add on the skill of data collection.  The focus is on the moon, sun, planets, solar system.


The Fine Arts:  Students improve fine motor skills through a variety of projects which connect with their math, science, or social studies curriculum.


Third and Fourth Combined Grade

English Language Arts:  Text:  SRA “Imagine It” Students read a variety of fiction and non-fiction, memoir, biography, suspense, and humor.  Students learn the different skills used according to the purposes of reading:  reading for aesthetic and personal response, reading for critical analysis and evaluation, and reading for acquisition, interpretation, and application of information.  Student workbooks accompany the text and are used to develop vocabulary, grammar, and spelling skills.


Students build vocabulary that is specific to each discipline of academic study as well as general expressive vocabulary.  Learning to write organized short paragraphs, the students will practice three of the five modes of composition: narration, description, and explanation.  Students will also begin to observe parts of speech such as nouns and action verbs. 


Social Studies:  Our Communities, published by Macmillan & Co. and Our Country’s Regions by Macmillan & Co.  Students expand on the idea of individuals and how they are connected to local community that extends to a global community.  They examine state and local history as they begin to see themselves as members of a community.  In the alternating year, they expand their focus to include regions in the United States.  Students study the spatial relationships between the regions and move concentrically out from local to international using a variety of physical, cultural, and geographic methods. 


Math:  The School uses the “Math” series published by Macmillan/McGraw-Hill in elementary and through middle school.  A strong emphasis is placed on number sense using several concepts such as place value through the millions, rounding, and estimating. Students continue to build basic math functions of addition and subtraction while being introduced to multiplication and division and the relationships between each.  Strategies for solving word problems are introduced using several methods that include but are not limited to identifying extra and missing information, checking for reasonableness, and working backwards.


Science: The class focuses working with hands-on science experiments and outdoor projects that will get students excited about natural and physical science.  Students begin to develop science skills. Students are introduced to the Scientific Method by working on hypothesis and elementary analysis of what they observed and learned. Other skills developed include scientific drawing, note taking, and organization. Students gain appreciation for their natural environment by building trails and going on local field trips.


The Fine Arts:  Students explore the vocabulary of art through guided art projects.  They create a fine art reference book containing tools, vocabulary, images of representational and abstract art, art genre, and art media.


Latin:  Students study Latin to build their vocabulary and to acquire a foundation for the study of Romance languages in the upper grades.  Students also begin to learn about ancient Roman life, focusing particularly on important roman myths and Roman gods and goddesses and mythology.


Fifth and Sixth Combined Grade

English Language Arts:  The materials and class discussions are designed to move the students from comprehension to analysis.  In reading fiction, students learn to identify figurative language and to examine its meaning in the larger context of the story.  Students are introduced to the document based question and the skills for expository writing.  They learn to distinguish among the modes of writing:  persuasion, narration, description, explanation.


Social Studies: Using the text, Our World published by Macmillan/McGraw Hill, the students look at the interconnection of geography, economics, culture, government, technology, and history. The course emphasizes the social studies skills of critical reading as they consider the idea of citizenship and identity.  As a combined class the curriculum alternates as follows:  Year A:  Ancient Cultures, Fertile Crescent, Nile River Valley, Indus River Valley, Huang He Valley, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome.  Year B:  Students study the rise of civilizations and the cultures of North and South America prior to European contact.  Cultures of North America pre-European contact and look at the Age of Exploration, Early American Arrivals, European Influence on Early America, Beginnings of Revolution.


Science: The course focuses on Ecology and Environmental Science. Students study native insects, amphibians, mammals, and trees. They collect samples and data, and make labeled scientific drawings. They begin to observe natural connections by studying the interaction of living things by studying food webs, photosynthesis and the water cycle.  Students continue to develop important scientific skills that are introduced in the earlier grades including: collecting data accurately, making scientific drawings, using the scientific method to make and test hypothesis, and writing lab reports.


Math:  Unlike the rest of the five/six combined grade, the math class is split according to grade. In grade five students use the text entitled Mathematics by McGraw Hill.  Students begin the year by reviewing place-value and the rounding of numbers.  The students then use the bulk of the year studying the math operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and their use with whole numbers, decimal numbers, and fractions.  Students continue to apply the four-step problem solving process.


Using Mathematics2 by Holt McDougal, students begin the year by honing their knowledge from the previous year to become more efficient math students.  Sixth graders are introduced to the concept of the variable and its use in solving real-life problems.  They are required to complete more complex problems involving fractions as well as lessons about measurements, and their conversion.  Students are also introduced to integers and the solving of algebraic equations.


The Fine Arts: Students begin the study of classical drawing by maintaining a sketchbook of weekly assignments.  Students keep the same sketchbook through grades five to eight. The focus alternates as follows:  Year A:  Students create art projects which explore the decorative and fine arts of the ancient cultures in combination with the early civilizations they study in history.  Year B:  Native American arts and European Renaissance art are the focus.  Aligned with the Native American studies, students create a variety of decorative and fine arts projects while studying the relevant art history of each.


Latin:  Students continue to build on their understanding of Latin, increasing their vocabulary and learning to build and translate simple sentences.  Students also continue their exploration of ancient Roman life, focusing on the history of the Empire and important Roman rulers.


Seventh Grade

English Language Arts:  Students consider American literature and its themes and images, as they read short stories, novels, poems, letters, diaries, and newspapers in conjunction with the history course.  They review essential characteristics of each of these genres, including their structures and their content.  The course places heavy emphasis on learning to write formal essays in the modes of persuasion, expression, analysis, and explanation.  Students work heavily with primary documents and the Document Based Question and Essay.


Social Studies: United States:  The year begins with a study of the early years of the United States and the writing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Using multicultural literature, primary documents, film, scientific and retrospective essays, this course focuses on the relationship between the ideas of equality, race, and gender and their impact on the historical events and perspectives that have shaped today’s nation.  Group and independent inquiry units ask students to apply the five national standards of historical approaches: chronological, historical comprehension, analytical and interpretive, historical research, and historical issues and decision-making. The class is run seminar-style and the students receive a seminar grade. 


Math:  Introduction to Algebra:  The textbook used,  Pre Algebra by McDougall Littell, begins with a review of basic mathematical concepts and then proceeds to pre-algebra material in preparation for Algebra 1 in grade eight.  Topics include properties of integers, rational numbers, real numbers, factors, monomials, exponents, linear functions, graphing, proportions, percents, measurement, area, and volume.  If time allows we examine some properties of polynomials.  Throughout the year students are encouraged to deepen their abstract thinking skills by applying their new-found skills to complex problems and participating in MathCounts.


Seventh grade math is meant to prepare students for algebra.  Students begin by reviewing the order of operations with whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. They then move on to integers, then to variables and like terms, followed by solving equations using inverse operations. Basic operations with geometric shapes are introduced to help students visualize space in three dimensions. Throughout the year students are encouraged to deepen their abstract thinking skills by applying their newfound skills to complex problems.


Science:  The class focuses on Life Science and Ecology. Students begin the year with a comprehensive study of our Northern Forest Ecosystem. Although they will study mammals and birds, the focus is really on different forest communities including northern mixed forest, moisture tolerant softwood forests, wetlands and alpine ecosystems. Students create their own healthy forest by studying and practicing habitat and tree stand improvement.  Students also visit local wetlands, bogs, and mountain-tops to observe, draw and collect data. Students learn to use the microscope to study cells, explore the human body systems through projects and dissection, and begin looking at DNA and genetics. Students continue developing important scientific skills including: making detailed scientific drawings, making and testing hypotheses and writing thoughtful lab reports.


The Fine Arts:  As part of the American Studies year, students continue their study of classical drawing with weekly assignments.  The belief that art is a cultural artifact guides students through the American studies focus:  American arts, folk art, African-American art, Hudson River School, American ex-patriot sculptures, kinetic sculpture, ephemeral sculpture, and modernism.


Life Skills: This program promotes health and personal development through a series of units that prepare students to deal with life challenges and to make decisions that steer them away from drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. This program was developed by Gilbert Botvin, Professor of Public Health and Psychiatry at Cornell University and is supported by Vermont New Directions and endorsed by the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control, and the US Justice Department.  Seventh grade focuses on self-image and healthy decision-making. 


Eighth Grade

English Language Arts: Students read a wide variety of memoirs, letters, novels, and poetry designed to deepen their understanding of elements of language and rhetoric, using guidelines established by the College Board’s Pre-Advanced Placement.  The course continues to emphasize strong reading and writing skills.  Students write argumentative essays based on literary texts, primary documents, and research.   They continue to study grammar in increasingly complex sentences.


Social Studies: Global Studies:  Focusing on the emerging nations and governments of the late Twentieth Century, students analyze the actions and roles of nations that are guided by deeply held beliefs which may differ considerably from one to another.  As students circumnavigate the globe, the issues of hunger, homelessness, conflict, migration, and international commerce are viewed from the perspective of interdependence and common interests.  They also create a comparative religions book.  The five geographic themes of location, place, relationships within places, regions, and movement of people, goods, and ideas assist in achieving a global understanding of issues and events.


Science:  The eighth grade focuses on Chemistry, Geology and Physical Science. Students start the year with hands-on experimenting and collecting data about water. Students study and experiment with pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, velocity, and turbidity. Students engage in discussions about environmental ethics and work on a stream restoration project. We study geology on Wheeler Mountain and explore the Peacham Bog. During the winter, students study Chemistry and learn to interpret the Periodic Table of Elements. We also take a close look at plate tectonics, the solar system, and rocks and minerals. Students choose, plan and complete a hands-on outdoor project that will improve the school’s outdoor scientific facilities. Students are expected to master important scientific skills including: writing a meaningful lab report, creating detailed labeled scientific drawings, and presenting scientific knowledge visually and orally


Math: This course begins with a review of basic mathematical concepts and continues with a rigorous treatment of beginning algebra sufficient to prepare the student properly for a successful career in high school mathematics.  Topics include the properties of integers, rational numbers, and real numbers, proportions, percents, solving equations of absolute value and inequality form, compound inequalities, graphing functions, polynomials, the Pythagorean Theorem, some basic probability and statistics, and solving systems of linear equations and inequalities.   Students are also introduced to the use of graphing calculators in solving problems of the above mentioned concepts.


The Fine Arts:  Complementing the Global Studies focus, the course includes ancient Egyptian art, Japanese Sumi painting, block printing, linear perspective, classical portrait sculpture, and the portrait from ancient through modern civilizations. 


Religion Book:  Promoting the understanding of the world religions, the course asks students to create a book containing information and imagery of Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam.  Joining the beliefs and the icons of each through the use of medieval illumination techniques, students create a reference book.

Life Skills:  Using the same program as used in seventh grade, eighth grade offers more in-depth information on drug and alcohol abuse, peer pressure, and the role of the media.  A unit on career exploration is also included. Glencoe’s Exploring Careers supplements the course as well as some units from Glencoe’s Creative Living.


Combined Grades

Physical Education:  Using the seasons as our guide, the students hike in the early fall, both on our seven acres of the School property and nearby hills.  Soccer and volleyball provide students the opportunity for team sports.  Basketball, cross-country, downhill skiing, and snowshoeing provide both indoor and outdoor physical activity in the winter.  Personal health and positive self-image are emphasized throughout the year.


Music: Individual instruction is mixed with ensemble performances.  Students perform twice per year and several participate in the regional music festival held in Newport, Vermont.


General Methodology


Student inquiry is the learning model promoted at The Stevens School.  The teacher guides the student by using direct instruction of factual information, direction regarding the appropriate skills and vocabulary for the discipline, with significant time given for seminar discussions. The goals and objectives determined for each area of study reflect the specific skills required to produce projects that demonstrate content knowledge.  Students confer regularly with peers and with their teachers as they work toward a finished product.


Student Evaluation Procedures

Assessment is intended both to measure and to improve student performance and occurs at every level of the learning process.  Students are given the rubrics for assessment at the beginning of each project and work with the teacher to establish timelines for finished work.  Student work is assessed by product, performance, tests, quizzes, and teacher observations, using Vermont’s Framework of Standards and Learning Opportunities and the Vital Results.


All evaluation rubrics and expectations are reviewed with the student regularly.  Where there are areas of concern, a plan for improvement, with specific benchmarks and timelines, is established.  This plan is designed by the teacher and the student, and, in some cases, with the parents. 


Elementary Grades: Work is monitored through ongoing assessments.  Students work toward mastery of specific skills that are measured regularly.  Parents receive a narrative description of the content materials and the progress of the individual student.


Middle Grades:  Since the middle school functions as a bridge between elementary and high school, preparing students to participate in the upper school system of evaluation is essential.  In addition to the continuous interaction between student, school, and family, interim reports can be sent to parents at any time during the year to indicate an improved area or a concern.


Report Cards

Student assessments in the elementary grades focus on skill development and broad understandings.  Students acquire skills sequentially in the early years and report cards reflect a measurement of those skills.   Middle school assessments move toward an assessment of the final product that requires the application of the skills.  Thus, elementary grade students receive report cards that measure the progress toward the skill.  The fifth through eighth grade students receive a letter grade that reflects the products that are the result of those skills.


Elementary Grades

The skills that ultimately produce quality work are learned in increments and students are measured according to school, state, and national standards.  Students must master such skills as organizing material, asking appropriate questions, listening to and following directions, and comprehending the written word, in order to acquire and retain the content knowledge that is specific to academic disciplines.


Fifth Through Eighth Grades

The middle school assessments move increasingly from a focus on skill development to a focus on work that demonstrates specific content knowledge.  The letter grade reflects the ability of the student to produce work that demonstrates an understanding of the content and how to use it.  This is accomplished by combining and applying the skills they have learned in the earlier grades. 


Teachers provide ongoing instruction in the proper application of the specific elements and skills required for each assignment.  Students and teachers review the scoring standards for the required elements.  Students receive regular assessments based on classroom expectations and homework requirements.


Students earn a letter grade that reflects an assessment of the product more than an assessment of the skill.  Final drafts of essays, math tests, final production of artwork are examples of the products.


Progress Reports

The Stevens School operates with three trimesters, each consisting of approximately 50-54 days.  In the first trimester, interim reports are sent out to students and parents.  For middle school students, the report includes a letter grade of the student at the point in time.  Both elementary and middle school interims include commentary on the strengths and areas of concern for that particular student.


Parent-Teacher Conferences are scheduled approximately two weeks before the end of the first trimester.  At the end of the trimester report cards are calculated and sent home.  By the second trimester, The School’s ongoing conversation with parents is well-established so the formal interim reporting is sent out only for those students whose work is C or below or for those students whose work has changed in a significant direction:  either the work has improved or appears to be in danger of slipping into the C range.


Report cards are again sent out at the end of the second trimester. The third trimester follows a pattern similar to the second.  In the spring of the year, parent-teacher conferences are scheduled for all families except the graduating eighth grade families.


Letter grades, with comments from the teacher or assessment team, are sent home at the end of each trimester.  Parents may schedule a parent-teacher conference at point in time during the year.


Grade Scale


                                                Per Cent                             Letter


                                                97-100                                     A+

                                                93-96                                       A

                                                90-92                                       A-

                                                87-89                                       B+

                                                83-86                                       B

                                                80-82                                       B-

                                                77-79                                       C+

                                                73-76                                       C

                                                70-72                                       C-

                                                67-69                                       D+

                                                63-66                                       D

                                                60-62                                       D-

                                                59 and below                          F




School Community Expectations

Students, parents, and school personnel play important and interactive roles in building confident, knowledgeable students.  Each member of the educational team (the student, the parent or guardian, and the teacher) commits himself or herself to holding high standards with regard to work, performance, and participation.


The challenging and supportive learning environment provided by the School works most effectively when the student commits himself or herself to participate fully in the activities, readings, and projects.   A cooperative, open attitude is expected of all students at The Stevens School.  Behavior that demonstrates or creates an attitude that is perceived as anti-intellectual is not acceptable and is addressed by reinforcing positive behavior.  Disciplinary action will be taken if the student is unable to meet the expectations and standards.


Parents or guardians best promote student success by providing students with space and time at home to study and to rest.  Family participation in school activities confirms to the student that the educational experience offered is valuable and worth the time commitment required to produce quality work.  Parents or guardians are encouraged to share their areas of expertise with staff and students, and are expected to help in fund raising, to chaperone and/or transport students, and to join in field trips and other explorations of the wider world. 


A commitment of time in one or more of these areas is expected of the family when the student is enrolled.


The School encourages parents or guardians to establish a strong partnership and to communicate openly about academic, social, or family concerns.  Conversely, the School accepts the responsibility to advise families of concerns regarding their students.  A commitment to work with families on behalf of students’ education guides our interaction with one another.


Integral to the School’s educational philosophy is the concept of service, not only as a goal in itself but also as a means of preparing our students for responsible citizenship.  While some service projects may be ongoing from year to year, students are also expected to look at needs within the School and their local community and to match their interests and areas of expertise with a need that they feel they can help fill.  Time is allocated to work on these projects.



More than five consecutive school days of absence is considered an extended absence.  Parents are encouraged to plan family trips and other outings to coincide with school vacations.  In the event that families find it necessary that their child(ren) have an extended absence, they are asked to notify the Director in writing at least one week in advance of the absence in order to arrange for the completion of the academic work the student(s) will miss.


Extended, Periodic, or Regular Absences

Given that the sequential nature of the curriculum does not lend itself to interruptions in students’ educational processes, both the faculty and the Board of Trustees are reluctant to grant leaves of absence for students.  Furthermore, students progress steadily toward developing skills that produce thoughtful, quality evidence of their learning, and the interactive relationship between student and teacher, and among students, is important to that development and to the health of the School community.


Therefore, families who wish to provide the opportunity for their child(ren) to attend programs offered at other schools or institutions need to present their plans to the Board for approval at least six weeks before the absence begins for the Board to determine on a case-by-case basis. Should a family determine that the leave is of importance to the student, the board will decide whether the student may complete the school year.


Except as provided in the School’s tuition contract, tuition for the extended, periodic, or regular absences or the remainder of the school year will not be waived or refunded.


Medical Absence

In the event that a student requires an extended absence, the family must provide the School with a recommended plan from medical professionals and in collaboration with the Director.  Given the impact these absences have on a small student community, the families must agree to disclose some level of information to be shared with the larger community. The level of information will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Director after consultation with the family, and if desired, with the Board of Trustees.   The length of the absence and the academic requirements will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Director and in accordance with state regulations.



A safe, productive, and challenging school environment depends upon clear rules and logical consequences.  Students and teachers at The Stevens School collaborate to design appropriate schoolwide standards of behavior, to review these standards, and to revise them when necessary.  These standards are based on the notion that courtesy is an essential element of a healthy, intellectually safe, invigorating academic environment.  Students are expected to exhibit positive and respectful behavior toward all members of the school community at all times including extra-curricular and off-campus activities. Teachers, staff members, and school volunteers model cooperative interactions with students and adults.


All students will be given the assistance and support they need to understand and to adhere to the code of behavior expected at The Stevens School. Behaviors vary in degree, thus the consequences vary. There will be no tolerance for physical violence or deliberate, hurtful verbal abuse. 


Lesser disruptive or troublesome behavior may evoke warnings and/or parent conferences with or without suspension.  Examples of these behaviors include making anti-intellectual comments that disrupt class or behaving disrespectfully in or out of class.  Upon the first occurrence the student will be given a warning by the teacher; upon the second occurrence the student will be asked to leave the classroom for a brief period of time and will speak with the teacher and the Director. Behavioral consequences range in severity and include lunch detentions, in-school suspensions, and out-of-school suspensions.  Parents are notified when the teacher and/or the Director choose one of the above consequences.  When it is clear that a pattern of disruptive behavior is established, parents will be contacted and a plan for improvement will be designed. 


The School makes every effort to work with students and families to develop strategies for achieving constructive behavior.  However, should the School identify a pattern of persistent dangerous, hurtful or disruptive behavior, the Board of Trustees reserves the right to expel the student from the School.


Attire Guidelines                    

The School has created certain boundaries with regard to clothing that are meant to address two aspects of school life.  One is to ensure that the School is focused on its mission of formal education.  The other is to support our anti-harassment policy that states that students have a right to feel free from language, behavior, or incidents which create a hostile or intimidating environment.  The School does not wish to perpetuate the media culture’s message that you are what you wear or what you weigh, but, rather, to convey the message that clothing is not a substitute for more substantial self-expression and true intellectual risk taking.  The School encourages self-expression and values students who demonstrate that expression in the form of listening, speaking, reading, and writing as a way to develop, analyze, and articulate a worldview applicable to the Twenty First Century and participatory democracy.


Maintaining respectful, courteous, intellectual discourse extends to items of clothing and jewelry. Specifically, clothing that contains written messages that offend or subvert the goal of maintaining respect and courtesy is not permitted.  Language that objectifies the body in any way, such as suggestive language written on clothing that draws attention to specific body parts, or language on clothing that offends or subverts the goal of maintaining respect and courtesy is equally inappropriate and unacceptable. 


The School supports the right of a group to promote ideas that are important to it, however; symbols that represent groups whose mission is counter to the mission and goals of education are unacceptable at school or school functions.  For example, punk jewelry represents a group that consistently promotes an anti-education and anti-participatory democracy, and cynical point of view.  Thus, spiked bracelets and necklaces that have grown out of that movement are not acceptable at school.  Symbols of hate, such as the Iron Cross and the Swastika, are moving into mainstream populations.  We ask that the students consider the meaning of these symbols and consider why the popular culture is promoting such symbols.  


Furthermore, bare midriffs and exposed undergarments are not appropriate attire.  Short- shorts and skirts that rise up above mid-thigh once the person wearing the skirt sits down are also not acceptable.


In the school environment at any school-sponsored event on or off campus,  attire that too closely represents other social environments such as nightclubs, raves, costume parties, or evening dances, is not appropriate for school.  Neither is attire that suggests an informality similar to a day at the beach.  Shorts should be the length of walking shorts, feet should be covered, and straps for summer should be sufficiently wide as to allow undergarments to remain so.


The School reserves the right of the faculty to make judgments based on the above guidelines regarding clothing or trends that are not listed in the handbook.


Portion of the School’s Anti-Harassment Policy

Students have a right to feel free from language, behavior, or incidents which create an intimidating or hostile environment.   One way the School has chosen to eliminate harassment and other displays of bias or prejudice within the school community has been to establish specific norms and boundaries with regard to clothing as well as behavior.  The School works with students and parents to ensure that no student is made to feel uncomfortable in the school environment.  The School reserves the right to judge clothing that is deemed inappropriate or counter to the School’s mission to promote respect for self and others.


The full policy is available for viewing in the binder marked “School Policies” on the school table located in the ante-room.


Academic Behavior

The Stevens School values the healthy development of the whole child.  Respecting one’s intellectual integrity is one aspect of the kind of character the School seeks to cultivate.  Students are encouraged to maintain an honest approach toward their work and their achievements.  The School promotes the idea that mastery is achieved through a process that takes time, persistence, and patience.  The faculty is committed to working with students in a positive manner that reduces the fear that sometimes accompanies learning new, more complex skills. The School recognizes, however, that there are occasions when students, either because they have not managed their time properly or are fearful of a low grade, will compromise their honesty.  As such, we note as significant and worthy of consequences the following behaviors which we define below.



1.         Giving or receiving unauthorized assistance in a test, quiz, exam, report, or project;


2.         obtaining, receiving or disseminating unauthorized information about a test, quiz, or exam either before or after;


3.         changing information on a paper after it has been handed in or corrected;


4.         changing grades, falsifying records, e.g., notes from parents, teachers, or staff;


5.         lying or misrepresenting the facts; and/or


6.         cheating in sports or competitions.





The Stevens School considers plagiarism a serious form of cheating but recognizes that students need to refine their understanding of plagiarism.   Students receive examples of plagiarism and are given guidelines for using and citing the work of others.


The consequences for these errors in judgment will depend upon their substance and degree.  The consequences will be speedy and will take into account the circumstances of the undesirable behavior.  For example, students caught cheating on a test or exam will forfeit the total points possible for that test or exam.  Students who plagiarize written or oral material will do the work again and receive a reduced grade. 


Should a pattern of academic misbehavior emerge, the Director will meet with the student, parents or guardians, and the teacher to establish specific guidelines and consequences.  Privileges withdrawn, extra-curricular activities curtailed, probation, suspension, and finally, expulsion, are all possible consequences for persistent academic misbehavior.


As stated in the admissions agreement, students are expected to complete their assignments in a timely manner. The School will work with students to ensure the support and opportunity needed to meet this expectation.  Students who repeatedly fail to complete assignments will receive lowered grades and poorer recommendations to high schools.



It is against the law to harass another individual; consequently, Vermont State law requires that a detailed harassment policy be on file at The Stevens School.  In summary, our policy states that we will not tolerate harassment by any member of the School community, adult or child.  All aspects of School life underscore and reinforce our commitment to cultivating respect, courtesy, and trust among our community members and in our interactions with others beyond our community.  The multi-cultural curriculum promotes respect for diverse perspectives and experiences; the behavioral code advocates respect for self as well as for others; and the discourse used in class and at all School functions trains students to establish and to respect personal boundaries. 


We educate staff and students annually on what constitutes harassment and why it cannot be tolerated.  The School desires that all members of its community, parents, faculty, staff, volunteers, and students understand what harassment is and what motivates such behavior; the continuum between a casual insult and a hate crime is discussed within the curriculum and is recognized as significant.  In eliminating the destructive behavior of harassment, the School assumes its responsibility in intervening when such behavior occurs, and in applying consequences that are speedy, consistent, and remedial for the victim and the perpetrator.


Any behavior that interferes with a student’s ability to take intellectual risks or that inhibits his or her ability to participate freely in the educational process or that creates a disturbance to the general learning environment is prohibited at The Stevens School.


Should harassment occur, we will make every effort to modify the behavior of the offender, using the means referred to under “Behavior.”  We will also offer support to the victim.  Should the School identify a persistent dangerous, hurtful or disruptive pattern of harassment, expulsion will result.


Anti-bullying Policy:  The School has adopted the Vermont Model Policy against bullying.  Both the anti-harassment policy and the anti-bullying policy are available for review in each teacher’s office.


State Definition of Harassment 16 V.S.A. § 11 (26)

Harassment means unlawful harassment, which constitutes a form of discrimination.  It means verbal or physical conduct based on a student’s race, creed, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, or disability and which has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment. 


Sexual harassment is also a form of unlawful harassment and means unwelcome sexual advances, requests or sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:


            (A)       Submission to that conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a                                                  term or condition of a student’s education.


            (B)       Submission to or rejection of such conduct by a student is used as a                                                component of the basis for decisions affecting that student. 


            (C)       The conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with a                                         student’s educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile                                                 or offensive educational environment.


Prohibited Substances

Weapons of all kinds, alcohol, and drugs are prohibited on School property and on any school trips off the property.  This prohibition includes but may not be limited to guns, knives, mace, pepper spray, street drugs, prescription medications (except as provided for in the following section on medications), and over-the-counter medication (again, see next section).  Any of these or similar items found on any portion of the School property or in vehicles transporting students will be confiscated.  The School reserves the right to evict people carrying such items from the property, with appropriate follow-up which may include conferences with those involved and referrals to appropriate medical, mental health, social welfare, or law enforcement personnel.


Gun-Free Schools Act

The School is required by law to make clear to all its members that any student who brings a weapon to school shall be referred to a law enforcement agency.  In addition to any other action the law enforcement agency may take, it may report the incident to the department of social and rehabilitation services.


The School, with the approval of the Board following opportunity for a hearing, shall expel from the school for not less than one calendar year any student who brings a weapon to school.  The Board may modify the expulsion on a case by case basis.  Modifications may be granted in circumstances such as but not limited to:

            (A)       The pupil is unaware that he or she has brought a weapon to school.

            (B)       The pupil did not intend to use the weapon to threaten or endanger others.

            (C)       The pupil is disabled and the misconduct is related to the disability.

            (D)       The pupil does not present an ongoing threat to others and a lengthy expulsion would not serve the best interest of the pupil.



The Stevens School maintains a small supply of acetaminophen and ibuprofen for staff to dispense only with the permission of a parent or guardian.  The School encourages physicians and parents to schedule prescription medications so that they can be taken at home.  When a prescription medication must be given at school, it is the parent’s or guardian’s responsibility to bring the medication to school along with written orders from the physician and deliver the medication directly to the appropriate staff person (Director, teacher, or nurse).  Students are not permitted to transport medications on school field trips; they must give the medication to the appropriate staff person.



The School believes that the triangular relationship of parent-teacher-child based on open, honest, and considerate communication fortifies and encourages student success.  Our belief in the value of diverse ideas compels us to maintain courteous and respectful relationships with all participants in the education of our students.  Regular notes go home weekly so that parents or guardians have at least two working days after that to call the School to verify information.


Communication Specific to Problems

As previously stated, The Stevens School intends to be open and accessible and to communicate frequently with students and parents about all areas of school life.  If a parent has concerns we encourage parents to discuss these with their child’s teacher and with the student.  Similarly, we encourage students to discuss their concerns with their parents and with their teachers.  If a parent feels his or her concerns have not been addressed by the classroom teacher despite such discussions, he or she should communicate with the Director.   Thereafter, if the issue remains unresolved, the parent may discuss it with an ad hoc committee appointed by the President of the Board of Trustees. Thus, the communication chain at The Stevens School is:


                        (1)        discussion with the classroom teacher (and the student);

                        (2)        discussion with the Director;

                        (3)        discussion with the Board of Directors (providing written                                                                documentation as appropriate).





The Stevens School is designed to serve elementary students, male and female, with a range of learning styles, economic backgrounds, religious denominations, and academic experiences and goals.  Eligible students are enrolled on a first come, first served basis as space allows and without regard to age, disability, gender, race, national or ethnic origin, religious persuasion, sexual orientation, or political conviction.


The Calendar Year

The School recognizes the following holidays:  Labor Day, Thanksgiving (entire week), Christmas & New Years (Vacation), and Town Meeting Day.  In addition, there is a one-week recess in February and another in April.  The School honors Martin Luther King, Jr., Day by viewing a video of his speech and a documentary on the Civil Rights Movement, and by discussing issues of race and human rights in America. Snow days are communicated by a telephone tree and announced on WCAX.   


Faculty and Staff

Julie Hansen, Director

English/History /Spanish

Julie Hansen holds an M.A. in English from Middlebury College, with studies at Oxford College,  and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley.

She is our school director, but her first love is teaching middle school. She continues to teach courses in English, history, and Spanish.

After graduation, Hansen taught English at the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara for three years, during which she studied Spanish and traveled throughout Mexico. She combines literature and history for both American Studies and Global Studies in order to provoke discussions about what she calls "the big ideas."  One of Ms. Hansen's favorite quotes: "If you expect an answer to your question in your lifetime, you haven't asked a big enough question" (I.F. Stone).

Upon returning from Mexico, she taught English as a Second Language (ESL) at Madison Middle School in Seattle, Washington.  It was during these years that she discovered her affinity and passion for teaching young teenagers. 


While in Seattle, Ms. Hansen had the opportunity to move to Honolulu and teach at St. Andrews Priory School, an independent K-12 school for girls.  During her tenure there she facilitated the school’s accreditation self-study and participated as a visiting team member for the Punahou Academy’s accreditation process.  These experiences gave her a broad understanding of the elements involved in a sustaining a quality school.


Ms. Hansen first came to Vermont when she enrolled in the Master's program at The Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College.  She and her family moved to the state full time when she assumed the Directorship of The Stevens School.  During her first year with the School, she enrolled in a class on Vermont Education Law through UVM to brief herself on specific statewide issues.  She also made contact with receiving schools such as the St. Johnsbury Academy to identify their expectations for incoming students.  Hansen then fused what she had learned during her years of middle school teaching with the Vermont Frameworks in order to create an appropriate curriculum.


Under Ms. Hansen's guidance, The Stevens School received approval from the Vermont State Board of Education for the 1999-2000 school year. After a review of that year's student portfolios and the following year's curriculum, the State Board granted Hansen and the School an additional five-year approval.


Ms. Hansen guided the School’s addition of grades 3-5 with the idea of a strong alignment among the grades to ensure that the courses incorporate local and national standards.


In 2006 the Vermont Bar Association awarded Hansen as Civic Educator of the Year.


Leah Benedict

Fifth and Sixth Grade Social Studies/ Art /Life Skills

Ms. Benedict infuses the study of ancient civilizations with the conviction that art is a human endeavor that has accompanied the rise of civilizations to convey values, establish identity, and to provoke questions about those values and identities. 


Ms. Benedict studied Textile Design at SUNY Fashion Institute of Design.  She also studied classical painting with artists at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League in New York.


Ms. Benedict is a professional artist, curator, and art conservator. Her enthusiasm and love of great art encourages her students to believe that original creation is for everyone. Her personal mission as a teacher is to explore with students the concept of art as a cultural artifact, understanding the arts as a footprint of cultures past, present, and striding into the future. “As teachers building sustainable communities, we need to create connections among races, religions, countries, ethnic groups, professions, students, and teachers, building bridges, past, present and future. Teaching at the Stevens School is the opportunity to meet these goals through an inter-disciplinary approach to curriculum, preparing students for high school, college and responsible adult life.”


She holds a Bachelors Degree in Art from Johnson State College, Johnson, Vermont, and her paintings are in private collections as well as local and national galleries.


Ms. Benedict has participated in graduate courses at the Shelburne Museum and Dartmouth College.  As a participant in teacher institutes, she has written curriculum for the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Arts, The Smithsonian, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.


Maria Dufresne

Combined third and fourth grades

Maria Dufresne brings a global perspective to our school community.  A native of Scotland, she lived and worked in a number of countries before she moved to the United States in 1983. In 2007, the entire Stevens School student body traveled to the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier to watch Mrs. Dufresne and several hundred other people sworn in as citizens of the United States.


Mrs. Dufresne has been teaching elementary school for seven years. “I love the curiosity of the students, and I have fun watching them acquire and use their skills in the pursuit of satisfying that curiosity,” she says.


She holds a diploma from Central College of Commerce in Glasgow, Scotland and a BA from the University of Vermont.


Jon Snyder


Mr. Snyder was born and raised in the Philadelphia area and has been living in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont since 2004.  He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Bucknell University, and has been teaching mathematics since 2005. Mr. Snyder most recently taught at The King George School, whose student population consisted mostly of children with behavioral and or learning disabilities. Of his time at King George he says, “It was a very challenging but rewarding time.  It is a great feeling to get a child to reestablish confidence and understanding in a subject he or she has given up in.  By emphasizing proper study skills and a certain amount of structure in daily activities I was eventually able to have the students understand that math does not have to be difficult.  Students have the power to make any problem as difficult or easy as they want it to be.”


Mr. Snyder has been married since 2002 and a father since December of 2005 (a daughter named Chloe).  He enjoys the outdoors, hiking, camping, snowboarding, and all other sports.  He played division I basketball in college and participated in the NCAA basketball tournament in 1989.


Kelli Kazmarski

Latin/Global Studies

J.D., Vermont Law School, 1993

M.S.E.L. (Master of Studies in Environmental Law) Vermont Law School, 1993

B.A., Colgate University, with a major in English.

Ms. Kazmarski was raised in Connecticut and moved to Vermont in 1990 to Attend Vermont Law School.  Both of her children attend the Stevens School, and she is delighted to teach at the School.  She has always been drawn to teaching and enjoys the opportunity to spark the curiosity of her students.  She enjoys the School’s “emphasis on personal responsibility and participation in the larger community.”  Ms. Kazmarski brings her own enthusiasm and curiosity into the classroom as she teaches Latin.


Tom Forster


Mr. Forster was raised in Baltimore, Maryland and has been living in Northern Vermont for the last 12 years.  Mr. Forster is married and has two children: Ethan (11) and Emma (9).  He has a bachelor’s degree in Geology from the College of Wooster (Ohio) and a Masters in Education from Portland State University (Oregon).  Mr. Forster has 15 years of teaching experience and has taught middle school science and math in area schools including Walden, Danville and St. Johnsbury School.


Before getting his teaching degree Mr. Forster worked and lived out west for ten years.  During that time he worked for the National Park Service as a ranger naturalist and firefighter.  He spent his free time adventuring in some of the wildest places in North America including Alaska, Montana, Utah and Arizona.


After meeting his wife, Dr. Dana Kraus, in Oregon, they spent six months living and working in a small village in Rural Nepal.  Tom helped build a school and helped train a young Nepali teacher while Dana worked at a small rural hospital.  Living in Nepal was a life changing experience for them.


Mr. Forster is especially excited to teach science in an outdoor setting at Stevens School

and has already been working with students to build trails and set up an outdoor classroom.  Mr. Forster is a big outdoor enthusiast and enjoys hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, camping and skiing.


Kathy Bussiere

Administrative Assistant

Kathy Bussiere is the administrative assistant to the Director.  She has been involved with the Stevens School since its inception since her daughter, Arletta, was in the first seventh grade class.  Arletta graduated from Williams College in June of 2009.  Kathy’s son Willis also attended the Stevens School and is currently attending St. Johnsbury Academy.  After graduating from St. Johnsbury Academy, Ms. Bussiere attended Lasell College in Auburndale, Massachusetts.  She brings many years of experience to her position at Stevens School.  She has worked at Holderness School in Holderness, NH, Peacham Elementary School, and the St. Johnsbury School.  Ms. Bussiere lives in Peacham with her family, two dogs, and a cat.  She has always enjoyed being a part of the Stevens School community and she is very excited about her position her at the School.


Appendix A

The School is required to publish the following statute in its handbook:



“Approved Independent School” means an independent school which is approved under 16 V.S.A. #166.                                  

                                                Approved Independent Schools

16 V.S.A. § 166


(a) An independent school may operate and provide elementary education, secondary education if it is either approved or recognized as set forth herein.


(b) Approved Independent School.  On application, the State Board shall approve an independent school which offers elementary or secondary education if it finds, after opportunity for hearing, that the school provides a minimum course of study and that it substantially complies with the board’s rules for approved independent schools.  The board’s rules must at minimum require that the school has the resources required to meet its stated objectives, including financial capacity, faculty who are qualified by training and experience in the areas in which they are assigned, and physical facilities and special services that are in accordance with any state or federal law or regulation.  Approval may be granted without state board evaluation in the case of any school accredited by a private, state or regional agency recognized by the Vermont State Board for accrediting purposes.


1)         On application, the Vermont State Board shall approve an independent school which offers kindergarten but not other graded education if it finds, after opportunity for hearing, that the school substantially complies with the Board’s rules for approved independent kindergartens.  The Vermont State Board may delegate to another state agency the authority to evaluate the safety and adequacy of the buildings in which kindergartens are conducted, but shall consider all findings and recommendations of any such agency in making its approval decision.


2)         Approvals under this section shall be for a term established by rule of the board but not greater than five years.


3)         An approved independent school shall provide to the parent or guardian responsible for each of its pupils, prior to accepting any money for that pupil, an accurate statement in writing of it status under this section, and a copy of this section.  Failure to comply with this provision may create a permissible inference of false advertising in violation of T.13, V.S.A. #2005.


4)         Each approved independent school shall provide to the Commissioner on October 1 of each year the names and addresses of its enrolled pupils.  Within seven days of the termination of a pupil’s enrollment, the approved independent school shall notify the Commissioner of the name and address of the pupil.  The Commissioner shall forthwith notify the appropriate school officials as provided in #1126 of this title.


5)         The Vermont State Board may revoke or suspend the approval of an approved independent school, after opportunity for hearing, for substantial failure to comply with the minimum course of study, for failure to comply with the Board’s rules for approved independent schools, or for failure to report under subdivision (b)(4) of this section.  Upon revocation or suspension, students required to attend school who are enrolled in that school shall become truant unless they enroll in an approved public school, approved or recognized independent school or approved home instruction program.


                                                *          *          *

e) The board of trustees of an independent school operating in Vermont shall adopt harassment policies, establish procedures for dealing with harassment of students and provide notice of these as provided in section 565 of this title for public schools, except that the board shall follow its own procedures for adopting policy.


f) An approved independent school which accepts students for whom the district of residence pays tuition under Chapter 21 of this title shall bill the sending district monthly for a state-placed student and shall not bill the sending district for any month in which the state-placed student was not enrolled.


g) An approved independent school which accepts students for whom the district of residence pays tuition under chapter 21 of this title shall use the assessment or assessments required under subdivision 164(9) of this title to measure attainment of standards for student performance of those pupils.  In addition the school shall provide data related to the assessment or assessments as required by the commissioner.


Appendix B

Stevens School Board of Trustees                           2009-10

William Cruess, Danville, University of Connecticut – Business Administration. Retired Assistant Headmaster St. Johnsbury Academy (27 years). Retired Assistant Treasurer St. Johnsbury Academy Trustees. Self-employed Consultant Educational Resources. Self-employed Consultant Construction & Development. Self-employed Consultant Business & Organizations. Former Board Treasurer Riverside School. Former Board Treasurer Good Shepherd Catholic School. Former Board Treasurer Good Shepherd Foundation. Former Board Treasurer Danville Chamber of Commerce. Former Board President Danville Rescue. Former Board Treasurer St. Johnsbury Works. Currently a Corporator Northeast Vermont Regional Hospital.


Erin Pike Mayo, B.A. Georgetown Univeristy, M.A. Middlebury College. Ms Mayo is currently the Head of Middle School for the Episcopal School of Dallas.  A graduate of St. Johnsbury Academy, she was a member of the faculty and the Assistant Head of Academic Affairs at the Academy.  Her daughter attended the Stevens School prior to their move to Dallas.  She lives with her husband, Peter Gurnis, and their two children in Dallas.


Jamie Milne, St. Johnsbury, B.S., M.B.A, Finance, Babson College.  Mr. Milne is a financial planner for Milne Financial Planning and brings his financial expertise to the Board of Trustees.  He and his wife, Donna, live in East St. Johnsbury.  Their daughter, Alex, will graduate from the Stevens School in 2010.  He has two other daughters who are currently attending college.  He enjoys running, biking, both water and snow skiing, and healthy living.


Ami Milne-Allen, St. Johnsbury, VT, B.S. Finance, Babson College.  Ms. Allen is a business owner and a residential real estate Appraiser.  She is a member of the Vermont State Real Estate Appraisal Board and the Association of Appraisal Regulatory Officials (AARO).  Ms. Allen has two children in college and her son was a 2006 graduate of the Stevens School.


Robert Morgan, Peacham VT, B.A. Dartmouth College, M.F.A. Stanford University.  Mr. Morgan is a self-employed theatrical designer who works internationally.  He is a former Director of the Theatre Division at Boston University’s School for the Arts, is past President of the Board of Trustees for The K.I.D.S. Place in Barnet, and has served on the Peacham Planning Commission.  All four of his children graduated from the Stevens School.


Wendy Morgan, Peacham VT, B.A. (Computer Science) and J.D. from The University of California at Berkeley, and graduate of the Vermont Leadership Institute at the Snelling Center for Government.  Ms. Morgan is Chief of the Public Protection Division of the Vermont Attorney General’s Office in Montpelier and a former attorney with Vermont Legal Aid in St. Johnsbury.  She is past president of the Vermont Bar Association, Catamount Arts, Peacham Community Housing, and a past member of the Board of Umbrella.  All four of her children graduated from the Stevens School.


* Trustees are elected to three year terms at the annual meeting of The Friends of The Stevens School.


Appendix C

First Amendment Schools Network

In 2005 the Stevens School joined the national network of First Amendment Schools.  The network schools are “designed to transform how schools teach and practice the rights and responsibilities of citizenship that frame civic life in our democracy.”  Their vision that the “five freedoms protected by the First Amendment are a cornerstone of American democracy and essential for citizenship in a diverse society” dovetails with the Stevens School mission to prepare students who fulfill their “civic duties; embrace human diversity; and thrive in a complex world.” A complete copy of the First Amendment Schools guiding principals is included in the appendix of the School handbook.  The following section describes the ways in which that commitment is visible at the Stevens School.


Curricular:  the four grades study the ideas and events that have influenced and shaped contemporary ideas of self-governance.  The fifth and sixth grades look at early world civilizations and the pre-Columbian Americas.  Seventh grade focuses on early America, the creation of the Constitution, and the use of the Constitution to build American democracy.  Eighth grade examines comparative cultures and governments.


Classroom:  seminar-style classes promote the critical, analytical thinking that is incumbent upon citizens of a democratic system.  Teachers provoke thoughtful responses by emphasizing the tensions inherent in a diverse society, layering the discussion with opposing viewpoints and encouraging alternative interpretations of ideas.


Methodology:  students respond to a variety of texts and primary documents through discussion and extensive writing.  Students practice what Mike Schmoker calls “argumentative literacy,” working toward developing a point of view that incorporates their values, knowledge, and experiences. 


The following activities are designed to help students develop their understandings:

  • Unscripted mock trial based on a real case;
  • Legislative simulations;
  • Model U.N.
  • International treaty-making simulations;
  • Candlelight Vigil, Dartmouth College, to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • African American Read-In to celebrate African American authors.;
  • Dialogue on Freedom.

School culture:  the School accepts that in any human interaction conflicts will arise.  Acknowledging those conflicts and working together to resolve them develops accountability in both teachers and students.  The School meets daily to discuss the events of the day and to address any issues that have developed through the course of student interaction.  Teachers work to ensure that all voices are heard and students participate in the resolution of any problems.  The School mission, the idea of responsibility necessary to maintain democratic ideals, and the importance of respect for self and others are all used to reestablish the intellectual and emotional safety that promotes critical thinking.


The following are examples of broad-based decision-making:

·         Music appreciation course:  students designed a course that allowed each student to investigate a specific genre of music to then present to the entire school;

·         Attire guidelines for handbook:  student committee worked with faculty and board;

·         Student committee reconvenes upon discrepancies or disagreements with the guidelines.


Community Service:  students participate in a variety of community service activities. 

The following are examples of projects and activities:


  • Election years:  “Get out the Vote”;
  • Occasional:  Clean up of local farm after a fire; painting kindergarten room at local church.
  • Pet Food Drive;
  • Special Olympics Volunteers.

Board of Trustees:  the Board consists of parents, members of the community, and teachers from neighboring schools.  The School hopes to increase board membership to alums as that population grows.


Appendix D

Admissions Policy

The School’s commitment to equity and diversity guides the admissions policy.    The School recognizes the transformational power of rigorous school education and welcomes students and families who accept our mission and methodology.  There are no specific criteria in determining the students who are accepted.  Rather, we work with the family and the student to ensure that there is a good fit for the student and the school community.  There are many factors that are considered in making the final determination.   We hold high expectations for the students, but a student who has performed poorly at a previous school should not assume that he or she would not be accepted.   The transitional nature of an integrated curriculum, high expectations, and interactive instruction allows students to grow significantly during their tenure here: socially, academically, and personally.


The School seeks students who wish to discover and enhance their interests and who hope to participate fully in a school environment.  As a First Amendment School, the focus on democratic participation permeates all aspects of school life.  Learning to balance the rights of the five freedoms with the needs of the common good is an ongoing process at The Stevens School.   From behavior to clothing to conversational interaction, the school community engages in ongoing awareness of the School culture. The teachers, the staff, and the Board believe that a receptive, respectful environment promotes thoughtful responses to the curricular demands in the classroom and compassionate behavior in the school at large.  


All interested families are encouraged to apply to the School.  Please check with the Admissions Director for specific information regarding the procedures for application.


Appendix E.

Acceptable Use Policy -- Computers

The School is pleased to offer its students access to various computer resources.  Laptops provide the opportunity for teachers to guide students through Internet research, essay composition, and data compilation.  The supervised use of the laptops reduces the risks of students visiting sites not related to assignments and other school-related work.


The following information describes the boundaries of computer use at the Stevens School.  It includes a form to be signed by the parent and the student and to be filed in the student’s folder at school.


General Network Use

The computer is available to students to conduct research, complete assignments, produce artistic and academic presentations, and to compile and store information.  Students must agree to the boundaries established by this document and by the School’s overall standards of behavior. 


Student computer files are treated as lockers.  Teachers may review files to ensure that students are using computer resources according to the standards.  Students should not expect that files stored at the School are private.  Students may not personalize their laptops by adding icons or shortcuts, nor are they allowed to change their assigned password.


The School reserves the right to suspend or revoke student access to the computers should the student find that he or she cannot operate within the established boundaries of computer use.


Internet/World Wide Web/E-mail

Access to FaceBook and MySpace has been blocked.  Access to the Internet enables student to use thousands of libraries, journals, and databases. The Internet is the new library; few libraries house hard-copy journals or databases in this new age.  Students must learn how to navigate the “surf” of cyber-information.  Families and teachers are well aware of the potential danger of encountering offensive, illegal, defamatory, or inaccurate information.  The School’s goal is to monitor and to instruct students in the proper use of information obtained from the Internet and ways to confirm the validity of information encountered. 


Student email accounts should be used only to transfer assignments from school to home and back again.  At no time during the day will students be allowed to access their email for personal use unless a compelling reason has been provided.


The students do not have access to the computers without permission of the teachers.


Publishing on the Web Page or to a Wider Electronic Audience

Student work may be considered for publication on the School’s web page or other web pages on the World Wide Web if appropriate. 


Group photos of unidentified photos of students may be published on the School’s web page with the permission of the parent or guardian.