In the fall of 2016, four educators, Signe Daley, Andy Barker, Dov Stucker, and myself, Peter McConville, starting meeting to discuss the idea of an immersive, semester long program for high school students in Burlington, VT. Meeting off campus, we would use the city not only as our classroom, but as our curriculum, allowing both the assets and the needs of the city to guide our learning. Over the next several months we met regularly, usually for about an hour and a half a week, but occasionally for extended afternoon and evening retreats, to work out the program’s mission and vision, strategize on how best to move forward, and sometimes just getting to know each other a little better – a foundational element in any learning community.
This past Tuesday we went live and held a visioning session with over 40 members of the Burlington community. We spent the morning on the second floor of Burlington City Arts Firehouse Gallery with high school students, educators, local nonprofits, and community organizers asking, “What could this look like? What possibilities does it create for students and for Burlington? Who else do we need in this conversation to make it reflect our whole community?”
The enthusiasm was palpable. Conversations were inspiring. We were able to collect a treasure trove of comments, suggestions, and questions which we are just now beginning to sort through. In the coming weeks and months we will be sharing reflections here, on this blog, on both this initial visioning session and our process as we work toward a Fall 2018 launch of the Burlington City and Lake Semester. Please join us on our journey. Follow our blog. Tweet at us on twitter. Invite us out for coffee. Ask the hard questions and share your wisdom. Together we can create a truly world class program serving all of Burlington.