Educator Conference Focuses on Students Solving Real World Problems

Educator Conference Focuses on Students Solving Real World Problems


Attendees from across Vermont will examine teaching methods and learning outcomes in light of individual and community goals, values, and challenges.


RANDOLPH, VT – Students, educators, and community organizations from across the state will gather at the Chandler Music Hall in Randolph on Thursday, December 1 to discuss how the Personalized Learning Plans (PLPs), now required for every high school student in Vermont, might begin preparing students not only for life after graduation, but also for the political and social challenges they will face in their communities.

“Communities throughout Vermont are facing some very big challenges,” said Elijah Hawkes, Co-Principal at Randolph Union High School, “including the struggle to earn a decent wage, youth flight, substance abuse, domestic violence, poverty, and more. Yet many educators feel unprepared or unsupported when it comes to designing curriculum that engages students in addressing such challenges.”

Chuck Scranton, Executive Director of the Rowland Foundation, agrees. “We ask our teachers to remain objective and to leave their political and religious issues outside the classroom door, but at the same time we’re asking them to help develop PLPs that will help students find their passion and take social and political action consistent with their values and interests.  Part of the idea behind this conference is to discuss this paradox."

Thursday’s conference will examine how schools can carefully and responsibly begin addressing contemporary challenges through the development of an action-oriented curriculum. 

"If teachers aren’t taking on these challenges in the classroom, students will be less likely and less prepared to tackle them on their own.  Personalized learning shouldn't mean we focus only on the individual,” Hawkes said. “Our focus needs to be on both the individual and the broader economic and social needs of the community. In designing a PLP, students are asked to reflect on their values and goals – but what about their rights and responsibilities as citizens? We need also to be thinking about the world they’ll be going out into.” 

“People are coming from all over Vermont to attend this conference,” Hawkes said. “They’re coming from high schools, from teacher preparation programs, and from community organizations.  People will have an opportunity to network, share resources, and plan steps to take back in their own communities.”

Sponsored by Randolph Union High School, The Rowland Foundation, and UP for Learning, the conference will take place December 1 at Chandler Music Hall in Randolph, VT, beginning at 8:30 am.  Admission is free for students, $20 for all others. To register, contact Jen Lacaillade at 802-728-3397; for questions contact Elijah Hawkes at or 802-728-3397.




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