Vermont School Transformation

The Vermont School Transformation research and storytelling project employs ethnographic inquiry and documentary film-making exploring and sharing the efforts of systemic school change in Vermont.

With generous support from the Bay and Paul Foundations, this research and media production project seeks to document and better understand the changes currently underway in Vermont public schools, and to provide stories, and resources for dialogue, that foster meaningful conversation and progress in support of what students, teachers, school administrators, and community members are working so hard to realize around student-centered, personalized, and proficiency-based learning.

The foundation of the Vermont Folklife Center's Discovering Community Education Program emerges from our organization history and expertise in authentic, subject-driven, ethnographic media-making—the methodological approach to which forms the pedagogy for our training of educators and students as they engage with community, explore local/regional topics, and create meaningful relationships. In this context, our own expertise has always been leveraged to model best practices for those students and educators with whom we’re working.


We invited you to explore the completed films, to date, which are available for viewing below. 

Unleashing Partnerships

UP for Learning and its collaborators provide a road map for building meaningful working partnerships between youth and adults – enabling them to take on the challenges and opportunities of improving their own schools across Vermont.

Stories on the Road to Proficiency

During the 2016-2017 school year, we worked with a group of folks who are actively engaged in school transformation. The goal of this film documentation project was to explore, document, and foster the ongoing conversation around the transition to proficiency based learning currently underway in schools across the state.

The project yielded multiple film formats, presented below, and dialogue materials - visit UP for Learning to access dialogue resources.

TRAILER: Stories on the Road to Proficiency

Harwood Union HS, Duxbury, VT

Bellows Free Academy, St. Albans, VT

People's Academy, Morrisville, VT

Champlain Valley Union HS, Hinesburg, VT

Transitions: Work and Community

A film exploring how students with developmental disabilities enter the workforce through the Transition Program at Harwood Union HS in Duxbury, VT.

Flexible Pathways to Graduation

With the passage of Act 77: Flexible Pathways, new and diverse high quality learning opportunities are being made available, and each student is creating their own Personalized Learning Plan to chart their unique route to graduation.

Coming to the Table: Dialogue for School Transformation

A film about a classroom at Harwood Union HS where teacher, Kathy Cadwell, is exploring Socratic Dialogue and the Harkness Method as pedagogy for student centered learning.

Hazen Pilots M3

A film about the progression of UP for Learning's Mindset, Metacognition, and Motivation (M3) Program, which was piloted at Hazen Union HS in Hardwick, VT.

Talking Our Time

In the winter of 2016, a group of students and educators joined creative forces to amplify student voice and help shepherd in a new era of teaching & learning in Vermont. "Talking Our Time" goes behind-the-scenes of the Sound Check project and the creation of the song, "Our Time."