Cheryl Zajan has been an educator for 35 years, all of them in Burlington. After 20 years as a special educator, she went to Saint Michael’s to become a school psychologist. She has been a school psych for 15 years. While she was based at Edmunds Middle School for all 35 years, she also contributed her time and expertise at Edmunds Elementary School, the Integrated Arts Academy, the Sustainability Academy, and J.J. Flynn Elementary School.
Cheryl has been a rock in the sea of ever-changing practices. She remembers the days of handwriting her IEPs on triplicate carbon copy (fun fact: this is where the BSD term “Pink Form” comes from). When she became a school psychologist, she was one of the few women in the field that was dominated by men at the time. She went from “Cheryl and the boys” to being the wonderful matriarch of the school psychology team.
Middle school is much more than just the academic curriculum. Social-emotional learning is just as important and critical.Cheryl Zajan
Words from Cheryl:
What I will miss: I will miss the excitement of a student who has the “aah” moment when they realize something about themselves and what that means for them in their learning.
What I am proudest of: I am most proud that I have been able to help so many students navigate the very challenging middle school years and identify their strengths as learners.
Advice to pass on: Middle school is much more than just the academic curriculum. Social-emotional learning is just as important and critical.
Future Plans: I have no set plans and am looking forward to discovering new interests and opportunities. However, I’m not quite ready to walk away from the district so I am hoping to provide consultation and evaluation support if needed.
Words from Colleagues:
It has been an absolute honor and privilege to have worked with you this year. I have appreciated every meeting that we have been in together. You always keep the students’ best interests at the forefront of every statement and every decision. You are calm, deliberate, and solutions-focused which keeps everyone moving forward with a student-first mindset. The result has consistently been approaches that honor the students and their strengths. Thank you for being an advocate for students and families; you have impacted so many lives for the better. I am so grateful for you, and I will miss working with you. Take care, and enjoy each moment. With deep gratitude, James Kiefer
One of the big pluses of our EST days was that we got to hang out with our EST guru Cheryl. Though we had to share Cheryl with other teams, we wanted to believe that Cheryl was really another member of our team. She would always bring her dry sense of humor, wealth of knowledge, and incredible competence to our meetings. She continually challenged us and ensured that we exhausted all avenues in the support of students. While Cheryl is quite composed throughout all of her interactions, we could always get her to blush a little by just mentioning the word “fireman.” Rich Boyers
When I first arrived, Cheryl immediately became an incredible resource for me. Both her deep knowledge of the Special Ed history at EMS, procedures, protocols and psychology in general, as well as what “actions” people have tried over the years and what was successful and what did not work here. Her incredible humor is sometimes the only thing that keeps me in virtual meetings. Even muted, she is as funny as can be and makes every meeting better. She works her tail off and the students and staff are better because of her. I am going to miss her so much next year! Brady Lozier
There has never been anyone who has seen and done as much as CZ. Regardless of which way the SPED pendulum sways, she is always a die-hard advocate for Special Ed students. Everyone who knows her loves and respects her. Every teacher hopes to have half the impact on students as she has. She is amazing: her expertise and experience can not be replaced. Janet Battaile
There are few people at EMS who used so few words at meetings but said so much! Thank you for listening, processing, and synthesizing meetings in a way that made everyone feel heard and valued and also provided them exactly what they needed to help students succeed. You truly made a difference in the lives of our staff and our students. Your wisdom, sense of humor, and gentle touch will be missed.
With great admiration and appreciation. Brent Truchon
Your kindness and infectious laugh will be greatly missed at EMS. Friend, you will be missed. Daryl Kuhn & Jane Lavigne
Cheers to weekly dinners with Cheryle B., you and me at VT Pub and Brewery!! Water, iced tea and Diet Coke – those days were the best. Best Tracy
What a blessing you have been to me since I began at BSD 14 years ago! You were there to light the way for me in my first year as a special educator at Wheeler, when it was your first year as a school psych. Was I ever lucky that we shared all an office and that I got to pick your brain all day long! Then you were there to greet me when I began at EMS 3 years ago, again putting me at ease in new surroundings. While I know you were my guiding star, I know that you also have been that for so many others at BSD. Your friendship, mentorship, and colleagueship has meant the world and I will miss you! Have fun on your next adventure, but please don’t be a stranger! Ellen McLean
What will we do without Cheryl’s calming presence, eye-rolls at our ridiculous antics, and her skills in fixing the ever-glitchy SLD software?! We will miss you so much but we know your words of wisdom will stay with us even when you’re not sitting around the table with us. Lindsay Dunn Thomas and Michelle Anderson