Burlington Education Association

We Need You!

Our Spotlight On Educators is where we want to feature all the great things Burlington Teachers and Paraeducators are doing. Have you done something over the last year that has made you a better educator? Send a picture and one sentence to three paragraphs explaining what you have been up to. We’d love to hear about awards, cool workshops, interesting projects with students, conference presentations, degrees completed, community work and all of the other exciting things you do to be the excellent educator you are. Submit to beaworksoutreach@gmail.com.

Enjoy the Summer!

The Burlington Education Association hopes that all students, families, staff and educators are enjoying this beautiful summer. We look forward to seeing you all again when school starts up August 28. Educators, see you August 22.

Class Size

Class sizes are different depending on grade level. It’s also important to understand that averages are for the district, so class sizes may vary from school to school, but should not exceed the maximum number.

Average #Maximum #
Kindergarten & Grade 12327
Grades 2 & 32429
Grades 4 – 122632

Exceptions are made for physical education classes and special experimental classes (limited to one term).

Class sizes were set up to ensure that students receive the best education possible. If you believe that you have an issue with your class size, you may consult Article VI, 6.3 of the Teachers’ Contract and/or your BEA building representative.

Louise Mongeon

And interview with an exemplary educator.

What do you do in BSD?
I’m a school nurse. At first, I was supervising, spending two days a week visiting the other schools which didn’t have nurses. I’d check on the aides at the other schools and I also managed and took care of medical issues for Early Education. Now I’m the school nurse at the Integrated Arts Academy and the lead nurse for the district which means that I’m the point person if nurses have any questions.

How long have you worked for BSD? In the field of education?
I’ve been a school nurse in the district for 15 years. Before that, I worked in Winooski and at Saint Francis for 6 years. Before that, I was a medical surgical nurse at Fanny Allen for many years.

What made you want to do this job? When did you know you wanted to do this job?
A school nurse. It’s always been in the back of my mind. When I was at Saint Francis, I was working in a different capacity. They didn’t have a school nurse, so I often ended up stepping in to help, volunteering at first. The same thing happened in BSD. The job I have now is the best job I’ve ever had.

What do you like best about being a school nurse?
Being able to see the results of my interventions. You get to see the long term growth of the kids as opposed to any other job where you see them once and then they’re gone. Continuity of patient care is really rewarding. And the kids they’re so cute. I also like the independence, being the only nurse, having to make the calls myself, and I like that. There’s definitely more variety in school nursing and the kids come up with the darndest things. No day is ever the same.

Tell us about one success you’ve had in school nursing. What is one proud moment?
I had a child who had lost weight over the summer. The kid went to the doctor, but the doctor wasn’t concerned. Some time later, I attended a team meeting for the child. During the meeting, I figured out by what the parent said that the child had diabetes. Because I had recorded weights for the child (a practice which is not required by the state), I had evidence of the child’s pattern of weight loss. So he ended up getting diagnosed without having to go to the emergency room which is how kids usually get diagnosed with diabetes. At that meeting, no one else would have realized what the symptoms meant. My years of watching the child grow and monitoring that growth put me in a unique position to make a really important nursing assessment.

What would kids say they had learned from you?
Basic health care. I had one kid who came in with a friend who needed help. The kid came into my office and got everything ready for his friend, directing him on exactly what to do. When I asked the kid how he knew what to do, he said he’d learned it from me!

What is one thing that people don’t generally know about you?
I was an army nurse for three years. In the military it’s totally different.

What do you do outside of school?
I spend time at home with my husband. And now I have two grandchildren. I keep up on developments in school nursing by reading. For more than 15 years, I’ve been on the board of the  Vermont State School Nurses Association.

How do your friends describe you?
Friendly, caring, a great sense of humor.

What other jobs have you had?
I was a daycare director for two years. I used to make maple sugar candies. I did a lot of billing paperwork for my dad’s business. I also worked at a nursing home for nuns.

What are some of your favorite things?
I like chocolate. I’m a chocoholic. I also like traveling. My favorite color is blue.

What’s one thing you would like to see happen to make Burlington Schools a better place for students to learn?
I would like the district to have a nurse coach who would provide mentoring and support for school nurses, because school nursing is a specialty practice that you don’t learn anywhere else but on the job.

Mathew Yu

What do you do in the Burlington School District?
I teach students English, grades 9, 11, and 12. I’m particularly fond of the class I introduced here, Spotlighting Justice, which focuses around using text and media to explore and understand social justice and the students’ place in the world today. 

How long have you worked for BSD? 
I am about to start my 4th year at BHS. 

How long have you been in the field of education?
In the realm of education, I will be starting my 6th year. 

When did you know you wanted teach?
I knew I wanted to teach when I started to make connections with youth in the Syracuse City School District. Seeing students connect with my similar upbringing was life changing .

Tell us about one success in teaching. What is one proud moment?
One proud moment was when I was able to implement my social justice class at BHS. 

What would your students say they had learned after spending a year in your class?
My students would say that they’ve learned a lot about what it means to be human and how far kindness can go. Often times, (per feedback forms), my students would say they learned a lot about privilege, what it means and how they fit in on the “scale” of privilege. 

What is one thing that people don’t generally know about you?
I listen to literally all genres of music. (Even country…I know). 

What do you do outside of school?
I hang out with my pugs, cook for my fiancee, and play video games.

What other (non-teaching) jobs have you had?
When I was in high school and college, I used to work at Olde Time Photo at Canobie Lake Park. I would dress people up in period costumes, take their pictures, edit them and sell the picture at a ridiculous amusement park price. 

What’s one thing you would like to see happen to make Burlington Schools a better place for students to learn?
More frequent, effective, varied, and mandatory cultural competency workshops/classes. 

Alice Patalano

Alice Patalano has been a first grade teacher in the Burlington School District since 2001. She has been teaching at Champlain Elementary School for the last year and before that taught at the Integrated Arts Academy. Prior to teaching in Burlington, Alice was the team leader for an integrated preschool program for five years in Massachusetts and brought the program to NAEYC accreditation.

When did you decide to become a teacher and why did you choose this field?
I always wanted to be a teacher. When I was a kid, I used to line up the kids in my neighborhood and teach them. I really love teaching kids to read. I love watching that process unfold. It’s wonderful to watch kids transform from feeling like they can’t do something and giving them the skills so they feel confident. Taking them from not knowing some of their letters to reading on their own… and some of them even reading chapter books.

What do you like best about teaching?
So, I think its setting the environment and the tone of the classroom, so that kids feel a real sense of belonging and feel safe and know that their learning styles are going to be honored. Making it a place where they can make choices for themselves, so they feel empowered in their learning. I really strongly believe that it’s not just about benchmarks and standards, but it’s about promoting social skills and social growth. If kids are motivated, they will learn.

What would students say they had learned after spending a year in your class?
That’s something I ask my students every year and they usually say “I feel really good about myself as a reader.” And it’s just finding that individual key and unlocking the magic for them and giving them the skills and scaffolding so that they can become a confident reader. And it opens so many doors. I think that’s what first grade is about, opening doors and letting them see the world around them, discovering.

How do your friends describe you?
They’d say I’m organized, reflective, straight-forward, energetic, upbeat, and supportive. And that I’m an independent thinker.

What’s special about teaching in Burlington?
What’s special about Burlington is the diverse community of learners and the opportunities and challenges that brings. The teachers are great at supporting each other and our colleagueship helps us meet the challenges. 

What do you do outside of school?
I play bocce on a team. I read and hang out with family. I like to travel. I like to cook and I love anything Italian.

The BEA Stands in Solidarity with UVMMC Nurses

The Burlington Education Association stands in solidarity with the nurses of the University of Vermont Medical Center. The stand you are taking is so important as you are fighting for all of the people at the Medical Center and will have significant impact on the rest of our community.

The lack of staffing at the Medical Center is a barrier to healthcare for our most vulnerable community members. As you have made clear, the only way to achieve the appropriate level of staffing is to raise wages at the hospital. The way that the UVMMC is forcing these working conditions on our nurses and other workers while making excessive profits is unsafe and disrespectful to our community.

During our strike, many of your members came out and marched with us. You truly have our community’s needs at heart. Keep up the fight for making our community a better place to live.

Tentative Agreement Reached

A tentative agreement, pending ratification, has been reached between the paraeducators of the Burlington Education Association and the Burlington Board of School Commissioners. Details will follow after ratification by both parties.

Statement to School Board

Good evening.
My name is Fran Brock. I am president of the Burlington Education Association and a history teacher at BHS.

First, on behalf of the district’s estimated 500 teachers and paraeducators, I would like to welcome those who have been elected — and re-elected — to the Burlington Board of School Commissioners. Our hope is that as we move forward and you take on your oversight responsibilities you will become familiar with the district’s educators — teachers and paraeducators — and the programs and services we provide the city’s children on a daily basis. We also hope and encourage you each to feel free to ask questions of us and to visit our schools and classrooms, to better understand the education we provide our students.

Toward that end, let me share with you a report just release this weekend by the Vermont NEA. This study conducted by Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations takes a hard look at the face of Vermont educators.

In 1-1 conversations with over 200 Burlington teachers and paraeducators, the BEA has begun to codify our shared values and principles. In the coming months, we will offer the community a clear sense of who we are, what we do and why we do it. We also trust that by adhering to these values we will better serve the students of Burlington.

In short, we believe in building a culture of professional growth; we believe in nurturing a welcoming school climate; we believe in teaching the whole child, connecting families to schools, and building community by communicating openly and clearly with all participants.

These principles guide us in our daily work and must anchor our school climate, policies and procedures. Our public schools are the responsibility of the public. That responsibility requires that the public is well-informed about educational programs and policies. When educators, students, parents, and other community members are well-informed and work together, our students succeed.

As you know, one major piece of unfinished business this year is the settlement of a contract with the paraeducators. These people work daily with some of the district’s most vulnerable students. We are pleased that there has been some movement forward, but we still need to have that contract settled so we all — school board members, administrators and we educators in the classrooms, can move forward. And to offer you a more clear update on that contract process, let me introduce Mark Van Buren.

Thank you.

BEA Statement on Paraeducator Negotiations

On behalf of Burlington’s teachers and paraeducators, I extend great thanks to the voters of Burlington who have again shown their support of our city’s schools by approving the district’s budget. The staff of Burlington’s schools are acutely aware that we must stay focused and persistent at providing your children with quality education. We will apply our professional abilities and talents to do just that; we will work with each student to make sure she/he has needs met and is properly challenged so that each student graduates prepared to meet the challenges of the world beyond school.

Now I want to introduce Mark Van Buren who will again address you on the yet unsettled paraeducators’ contract. Again, these people are asked to work with our district’s most vulnerable students, many of whom need one-on-one assistance. Paraeducators are crucial members of the education teams that work to provide each student with proper service. The work paraeducators perform requires them to be trained and loyal to the District. The compensation package — salary and healthcare coverage — must be be attractive and competitive if we are to retain and attract excellent people.