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Brattleboro Catholic school principal appointed to state council

The principal of St. Michael School and St. Michael High School in Brattleboro has been appointed to serve as an approved independent school representative on the state’s Council of Independent Schools.
 
Elaine Beam, in her ninth year at the helm of the Catholic school, was appointed in November, beginning her service immediately.
 
The appointment is for two years.
 
“I am honored to be asked to join other independent school leaders in representing our schools and hope that I can bring awareness to [the] issues of inequity, especially for our Catholic schools,” she said.
 
The council plays an important role in keeping both recognized and approved schools apprised of changes taking place in State Board of Education rules and regulations. 
 
Asked about concerns facing independent schools like St. Michael’s, Beam said, “The issue that is of most concern is Vermont's Tuition Voucher System. Many smaller Vermont towns do not operate a local middle or high school and some do not have an elementary school.”
 
Thus, families in these towns are eligible to choose from among public or non-religious independent schools in other towns, even outside of the state or nation.  “My biggest concern as a principal of a Catholic school is that these families are not allowed to choose any of our Catholic schools throughout the state or any of the religious-based schools throughout the state,” she said. “Is that really school choice?”
 
Some families do have a choice, “as long as their choice fits the state statutes,” she continued. “All families should have access to the education that they choose for their children, especially if the independent schools they are choosing meet the accreditation standards that the state has chosen.”
 
Beam also expressed concern about Act 77, a dual enrollment statute amendment, which provides financial support for high school students to take college-level courses from college instructors and receive credit toward both high school and college graduation. “The legislation specifically excluded from dual enrollment financial support those Vermont residents attending independent schools on a private-pay basis, which because of the exclusion mentioned above, denies any financial support to Catholic students [for] access to these college level courses,” she said.
 
As she enters the discussions on a state level, Beam said she would bring to the table her background as a public school principal and as the principal of an independent and Catholic school. This, she said, gives her “perspective from both sides.”
 
Beam serves on the Executive Council of The New England Association of Schools and Colleges and works with that agency helping schools become accredited or maintain accreditation. 
 
She earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from the Adult Degree Program at Norwich University then earned a master's in School Administration from Castleton State College.
 
She began teaching at a small, first-through-fourth-grade public school in Acworth, New Hampshire. There was no principal on site so she was asked to be the lead teacher; she worked there for a total of six years. 
 
She was a teaching principal at The Grafton Elementary School in Grafton and became the full-time principal as the school grew and merged with the Athens Elementary School; she worked in Grafton for 11 years. 
 
During her tenure at St. Michael’s, high school grades have been added.
 
  • Published in Schools

Advent projects at St. Michael School in Brattleboro deliver joy

O what charitable works the students at St. Michael School in Brattleboro are doing for Advent!
 
They are not just learning about the holy season of preparation for Christmas, they are reaching out to others with messages of compassion, hope and love.
 
Students in second, third, fourth and fifth grades, for example, are involved in projects to benefit residents of elder care homes. The younger children are making Jesse Tree ornaments with residents of Bradley House, a residential care facility. The older students are making Advent cards with O Antiphon and Advent wreath themes to be delivered by eighth, ninth and tenth graders when they visit nursing homes to assist Father Justin Baker, pastor of St. Michael Parish, with weekly Masses.
 
“Advent brings joy, and the joy our students bring to the nursing homes is twofold – joy for our students and joy for the senior members of our community,” said Elaine Beam, principal. “Advent is a season, not one event. This is an opportunity for students to prepare with senior members of our community for Christmas.”
 
The projects are among the ways students connect with members of the wider community through service.
 
Third graders Brendan Rose-Fish and John Mazzer explained the Jesse Tree project taking place in their classroom. “It’s something we do in Advent to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus,” John said. “The ornaments that hang on the (Jesse) tree tell stories that are in the Bible about the promise that God made to His people that He would send a savior,” Brendan added.
 
Among the symbols are an apple for the story of Adam and Eve and a rainbow to represent the story of Noah and the flood.
 
Every other Thursday the second and third graders visit residents of Bradley House as part of the Catholic school’s community service.
 
Brendan and John like to go there and hear residents’ stories and play games. “Jesus teaches us to do this,” John said. “He wants us to be nice to other people and love your neighbor as yourself,” Brendan added.
 
The fourth and fifth graders talked about their Advent card project as they colored, cut and glued their cards. “Advent is getting ready for Jesus to come, and we want people to feel Jesus is also coming for them,” said fifth grader Annabelle Thies.
 
“We’re doing this to lift up their spirits,” contributed Bobby Ellis, a fourth grader.
 
“They should know God is still with them even if they are lonely or sick,” fifth grader Emma Gragen said of the seniors who will receive the Advent cards.
 
O Antiphons accompany the Magnificat canticle of Evening Prayer from Dec. 17-23, using ancient biblical imagery drawn from the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment of Old Testament and present hopes.
 
Among the O Antiphons are O Wisdom, O Key of David, O Radiant Dawn and O Emmanuel.
 
“Jesus inspires us to believe in Him…and to treat other people the same way you’d treat yourself,” fifth grader Kateri Laflamme said.
 
These are lessons students at St. Michael School learn and live there daily, not just during Advent.
 
“I hope it inspires people to believe in Jesus and to be kind to other people,” fourth grader Jayke Glidden concluded.
 
 
  • Published in Schools
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