It’s that time of year again. The summer nights are getting a little chillier, the days a little shorter and the garden harvests are well under way. All signs that summer is coming to a close, the leaves will soon change and the new school year has begun.

And just as we are about to see changing leaves, we will also see some changes in our education system. I’m excited to be welcoming new and returning administrators, staff and students to experience a school year full of innovation and opportunity that these changes will present.

One of the biggest changes is our newly unified school district. Merging our school districts for Elmore, Morristown and Stowe gives us the opportunity to work together for the betterment of all. This unification will provide for increased collaboration among schools and equity in educational opportunities for all of our students.

Systems that worked well under our old governance structure will remain intact. However, in the spirit of constantly learning and growing, we will be taking stock of areas where we can improve. Merging our districts will strengthen our work toward quality and equity on every level. Together we are better, we are smarter, and we are stronger.

Conversations are happening throughout our community about changes that will strengthen student learning. There is an excited buzz about these new approaches. At the end of the day, we all want our students to succeed, and we recognize the need for flexibility and personalization on their pathway to success.

Our shift to proficiency-based learning has opened several doors for us to do this more effectively and is another example of how we are working toward a more equitable educational landscape. Proficiency-based learning practices draw from decades of brain research and our improved understanding of how students learn. By focusing on individual outcomes, we can offer our students so much more than we could before.

While nurturing the individual is crucial, so is the need for strong community connections. Our schools and communities are inextricably linked. All of us at the Lamoille South school board are committed to this symbiotic relationship and to presenting a thoughtful budget proposal that supports and strengthens our individual students, and, therefore, our community as a whole.

The new Lamoille South board has already been hard at work establishing focus areas for the 2019-20 school year. We will be holding a Lamoille South Community Engagement Night on Monday, Oct. 14, beginning at 6 p.m. at Peoples Academy to hear your hopes and dreams for the district. The evening will include a light dinner, student entertainment and an opportunity for small group discussion around two of the school board’s key areas of exploration: quality/equity and capital/facilities.

I realize how daunting some of these changes may feel. Change can be scary and exciting all at once. So, as we embark on this new year together and embrace new and exciting ways to educate our students, I want to remind and assure you of the most important thing:

Our mission has always been to provide an outstanding education for every child in our community, and that will never change.

Tracy Wrend is superintendent of schools in the Lamoille South school district.

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