Mr. Caleb Martin
Hinesburg VT — For two weeks at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, CVU students will not be having traditional classes. Instead, they will be participating in a program called “RISE,” which consists of teacher-run activities that students may not have access to inside or outside of their regular classes.
RISE (Reflective Interest-based Student Experiences) is a newly implemented program at CVU as of 2018. Carly Rivard, the personal learning coordinator at CVU, claims that RISE is very much needed, “Based on the research [taken over the past two years] that Peter [Langela] and Abbie [Bowker] conducted as part of their Rowland Foundation work, as well as the current understanding of what jobs and careers will look like for current students, it is clear that students need a set of skills that are not always practiced regularly in the more conventional school system. Students also need more time to take low stake risks that allow them to discover and develop interests, core values, and [their own] purpose. RISE is one way to provide more opportunities for students to use their voice to achieve their own personal goals.”
The data collected by the Rowland Foundation found that, according to Langella, the majority of CVU students do not feel that they possess the freedom to choose what they study in class. CVU faculty saw this information and used it as a catalyst to fill the void left in many of its students academic aspirations. Langella shared how he thinks RISE can be helpful to students. “Students can use RISE to explore a topic of interest that you are curious about, or you can use it to further your understanding of a topic you already have experience in.”
The possible focus areas range from “Sports Analytics” to “Adopting a Grandparent.” Some of the activities will last the whole day, while some may be as short as 3-4 hours; students will have the option to take two half day courses or one full day course. These focus areas are not designed to give out homework. However, students will need to present what they have learned at the end of the two weeks. Ninth Grade Humanities teacher Molly Tonino says, “I’m excited for the schedule change, and I think it will be interesting to see teachers step out of their typical role that they have in the classes they teach.”
Due to the shorter semesters and overall class time, some people might be wondering if RISE is worth it. Rivard replies, “I think that the slightly shorter semesters will have some effect on the courses that are offered during the semesters, as one might expect. However, I think the benefits of RISE will far outweigh that impact.” Langella agrees, adding, “It is important to value and help cultivate students’ interests.” Because this is the first year of the program, imperfections are inevitable. However, this does not take away from the fact that there is a multitude of learning opportunities that are being formed for students now and into the future.