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Principal's Perspective

Tom Ferenc
Principal, GMUHS  

Contact information:
*email: thomas.ferenc@trsu.org
*Phone: 802-875-2146
*Cell: 802-356-1728
*Home: 603-525-8023
*Fax: 802-875-3183

Mr. Ferenc, Vermont State Principal of the Year and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders discuss education in Mr. Sander's DC office.  

                                                          Hello and Welcome to My Web Page
It is at this site that I have posted information that I trust you will find useful such as my philosophy of education, day to day information and more. I will try to update information regularly and I encourage you to contact me with any questions you may have. Our school website is up to date and regularly maintained and you should check there for the latest information. It is at http://gmuhs.trsu.org 

    Principal's Message for School Year 2016-2017
   Dear Students, Parents, Guardians and Community Members,  
     As I begin my 10th year as Principal of Green Mountain Union High School, I look back at the graduating class of 2016 with confidence and assurance that our graduates are prepared for the next stage of their young lives, be it college or career ready. Looking forward, as we begin the 2016-2017 school year, it gives me great pleasure to address you with the changes and improvements made over the summer. Additions to our teaching staff include Amy Jones, Kris LeFevre, Special Education, and Christine Saul, Music and Theatre We are pleased to add these professional educators to our GM team. 

   We continually strive to improve best practices and student learning. Our focus on Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements (PBGR's) continues this coming year with teachers focusing on Scoring Criteria, Transferable Skills and Teaching Modules. This is a huge initiative that is designed to improve student learning and teacher effectiveness. For more  information see the attached video http://www.lpctv.org/performance-based-grad-requirements.

Building and campus improvements continue and include fresh painting in the hallways, classrooms and bathrooms and special care for the campus grounds. The school is in need of a new roof and while that will be a large undertaking requiring a substantial amount of money it is a necessary investment, no different than our own homes.  All of these improvements have and will continue to add value to our school. Landscaping has been ongoing and our campus is in beautiful condition.  Additional security cameras continue to be installed as well as fire system upgrades. Job one is to create and maintain a safe learning environment. 

In technology we continue to improve teacher practices and student learning. We have begun a study of our technology use, specifically the acquisition and distribution of our laptops and iPads. Led by Library Learning Commons coordinator Jeanie Phillips, a team of students and teachers engaged in Design Challenge work. The goal of technology use is to increase digital literacy and digital citizenship. We strive to be sure that we are teaching our students the proper use of technology and that it is simply a tool for improving learning. We are moving to a one to one initiative with laptops for all high school students. 

Parent's Night: Please Join Us!
On Wednesday, September 7, 2016 from 6-7:30pm we will host our Open House for Parents to visit classrooms and meet teachers, staff and administrators.
Please contact me with questions or comments. 

Principal Tom Ferenc


SBAC: The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) has replaced the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) as the high stakes test administered to our students. For more information on the SBAC go the Agency of Education website.

GMUHS has been designated as a school in need of improvement, having not made adequate yearly progress (AYP) on the state NECAP test. We have implemented a Continuous Improvement Plan complete with multiple strategies to reach our learning goals. We have identified a student's ability to read and comprehend what is being asked of them as a contributor to not making AYP. To focus on improvement we have implemented 'close reading' techniques. This is the practice of reading dense, non-fiction, course related material and focusing on vocabulary. We believe that this initiative, as well as others, will assist us in improving our teaching and learning. 
For more information on AYP go to the Agency of Education website. 

ACT 77:
What is Act 77 anyway? 'Act 77 is a new piece of legislation that jumpstarts the state's efforts to 'remodel' education and learning so that Vermont can fully meet the challenges of the 21st century. It highlights the importance of real life opportunities, the power of a personal learning plan for each student, the chance to take both virtual and college level courses while in high school, and meaningful career development and post-secondary planning for every student. (VT., AOE). Also referred to as the Flexible Pathways Initiative, it allows students to explore learning through a Personal Learning Plan, (PLP).  For more information on Act 77 go to the Agency of Education website.

The heart of proficiency based learning is that student achievement will be evaluated against a set of common learning standards such as the already existing Vermont State Standards and the Common Core Standards. Written descriptors, not the current numbers and letters, will be used to indicate a student's mastery of the essential skills and knowledge. Vermont's Education Quality Standards state that students graduating in 2020 will be the first class graduating under the proficiency based system, using the proficiency based graduation requirements (PBGR's). Achieving this initiative will take several years. The amount of professional development required is enormous as it is a big change from how schools currently teach and learn. To accomplish this task, we will be doing professional development. For more information on PBGR's go to the Agency of Education website. 
In closing, I am always interested in your input. Please contact me with any questions, concerns or comments about your school.

I was born in Port Chester, New York and raised in a section of Greenwich, Connecticut called Chickahominy. I am a product of their public school system. Upon graduating from Greenwich High School, I attended Norwalk Community College and transferred to Southern Connecticut State College where I earned a BS in Biology. I earned my Masters Degree in Organization and Management from Antioch New England Graduate School and my Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Leadership from Plymouth State University. I have been married to my lovely wife Christie for 39 years. We have one son, Matt, a senior research cancer scientist... and two cats, Wendell and Diesel.  And best yet...we have just been blessed with our first grand child, Lizzie. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                            In Paris, France with GMUHS AP students 
My Philosophy of Education:
What I Believe:
I believe in America's 200 year old experiment called public education.
I believe in equality and that each and every individual child should have access to an education.
I believe that Americans want opportunity, so they can become all they can be. We are a nation of achievers and we believe in the possibility of going to the White House from a log cabin.
Americans believe in excellence. We expect to be the very best at everything we do.
I believe that there is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals. I believe that each child deserves a personalized education plan. I believe in differentiating instruction to reach the full range of learners.
I believe in preparing our students to thrive in a global economy. To that end, I believe in the expansion and use of technology. I believe that children must be taught to learn and create, not just memorize and regurgitate.
I believe that children must be taught to be curious about the world and themselves.
I believe that children will achieve in direct proportion to the level of your expectations.
I believe that with good teachers anything is possible, even overcoming poverty.
I believe that all children must have access to the most rigorous curriculum possible.
I believe good teachers understand that it is expectations and relationships first, and tasks second. 
(DC, 2001)
I believe in these truths because I am a product of them. Having been raised in a public housing project, I am living proof that education is the most valuable gift you can give yourself and the next generation of Americans. And I owe it all to one teacher who believed in me and changed my life.

Green Mountain Union High School is a comprehensive middle/high school dedicated to improving student learning.
At Green Mountain we believe in educating the whole student. To do so, we strive to meet our student learning expectations as well as our social and civic learning expectations in many different ways.

Smart is not something you are or you aren't. It is something you become by having a growth mindset... not a fixed mindset... and by working hard.

Principal Tom Ferenc

        AP students engaged in learning in the LLC                                                         Halloween at GMUHS...fun and learning!

*The first day of classes for all students will be August 31, 2016
*School begins at 7:50am and ends 2:40pm 
*For information on bus schedules check our website home page, also the Vermont Journal and Message newspapers
*Note that 7th grade orientation is on August 30, 2016 from 7:50am to 12 noon
*Contact me with any questions or comments you may have
*Always check the GMUHS web-site for updated dates and times, as things shift.

As Principal, my primary responsibility is instructional leader, focusing on improving student learning. I am also expected to function as an educational visionary, an assessment expert, a curriculum innovator, a professional development leader, a community builder, a public relations professional, a budget analyst, a facilities manager, a technology leader, a special programs administrator, a restaurant manager, a safe and drug free schools administrator, a disciplinarian, guardian of various legal, contractual, and policy mandates and initiatives, and a leader in improving programs for students with special needs. I am also responsible for standardized test scores. This comprehensive list was shared with me by another administrator. I believe he covered pretty much everything except my job as a 'parent on site' - that is also very important. I take the education of our students personally and expect our fine staff to do the same. Any organization is only as good as its people and at GMUHS we have good people. As Principal, I am fortunate to work with such a good team of dedicated educators.