Between March 4 and 13, some Burlington parents will sign their kids up for Vermont's first-ever magnet schools. Both schools are in Burlington's Old North End and traditionally enroll a high percentage of poor students. The schools are the end result of much debate and planning.
According to the Burlington School District website, teachers at the "Academy for Sustainability" at Lawrence Barnes Elementary will build on an existing educational partnership with Shelburne Farms. Teachers at the nearby "Integrated Arts Academy" at H.O. Wheeler Elementary, meanwhile, will explore music, dance, theater and visual arts with educators from the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts and St. Michael's College.
To raise awareness about their soon-to-be magnet, several H.O. Wheeler parents are creating "Random Acts of Art." I saw a few of these "acts" during a recent tour of the school. One, a group of painted CDs hanging in the cafeteria window, shimmered during a parental info session. Out front, a small army of hand-painted pinwheels blew in the breeze.
Megan Munson-Warnken, a mother of two and vocal Wheeler parent, explains that the anonymous artist-parents created the ongoing demonstration in solidarity with Wheeler teachers. "They're doing such great work," she says. "We wanted to support them in that journey by taking some risks ourselves."