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Thu, Sep 21


Zoom & Asynchronous; Thursdays 3:30-7:30

Your Classroom: The Seven Intentions of Belonging

For Educators who have a desire to wonder and wander outside their comfort zone.

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Your Classroom: The Seven Intentions of Belonging
Your Classroom: The Seven Intentions of Belonging

Time & Location

Sep 21, 2023, 3:30 PM – Nov 11, 2023, 7:30 PM

Zoom & Asynchronous; Thursdays 3:30-7:30

About the Course

Participants will engage in reflective practice to consider the influence we, as educators, have on our students’ ability to access and engage in meaningful learning, and to create classrooms and environments where each student has a sense of belonging and purpose. Using case studies, panel discussions with guest speakers and guided reflection, course participants will enhance their understanding of inclusive practices in educational settings. This course is intended to be adaptable to the needs of educators, allowing participants to focus on improving inclusion and equity in their own classrooms and educational settings. Participants may either register for three graduate credits ($1600) or for recertification hours ($1300). The course syllabus may be viewed here.

This course compliments a second field-based course which will travel to Sindhupalchok and Kathmandu, Nepal in April, 2024. Participants in the April course will work with Nepali teachers to develop a shared curriculum and classroom partnerships informed by the Seven Intentions of Belonging. Registration in the field-based course is highly encouraged but is not a prerequisite for enrollment in this course.


September 21 - November 9: Weekly virtual meetings on Thursday evenings from 3:30 to 7:30 to include independent work time. 

November 11 - The final class will be held in person in Central Vermont times tbd. Please be assured that arrangements can be made for virtual attendance as needed.

About the Instructors:

Ms. Denise Russell is currently embarking on her 11th year as a school administrator. She is currently the principal of Northfield Elementary School in Northfield, Vermont, previously the principal of Brighton Elementary School in Island Pond, Vermont. Ms. Russell obtained her Bachelors of Arts at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana during which time she conducted further studies at New York University and Antioch College (Bodh Gaya, India). Ms. Russell obtained her initial teaching certification from San Francisco State University in the Clinical Schools Project with an emphasis on cultural and linguistic diversity.  In 2013 Ms. Russell was awarded a masters degree in Educational Leadership and Public Policy from the University of Vermont where she received the George W. Henderson Aspiring Principal’s Award.  Ms. Russell has ten years of experience working with teachers to implement the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and extensive experience developing systems of support to meet the social-emotional needs of students. Ms. Russell supports her staff in experiential and blended learning opportunities across content areas to improve engagement and relevance in an inclusive environment. Ms. Russell believes that students learn best in a thoughtfully designed student-driven learning environment and that instructional fit matters. Through her work as a participant in the Snelling Center for Government, Vermont School Leadership Project class of 2022, Ms. Russell’s leadership goals centered on Social-emotional and Physical Wellness, Inclusion and UDL. The aspect of school leadership that Ms. Russell is currently most passionate about is Belonging. Ms. Russell believes that being valued, accepted, included, and encouraged aids in cognition across all categories of learners and that inclusive practices strengthen the experience of  Belonging for all students in all school environments. Sponsored by Go Global VT, Ms. Russell was fortunate to travel to Nepal and Bhutan in 2019 to visit schools and work with educators to learn about both the Nepalese and Bhutanese education systems, providing some professional development to aspiring Nepalese teachers. Ms. Russell hopes to continue this partnership and learning opportunities with the Nepalese educators through further collaboration with Go Global.

Kim Chouinard received her undergraduate degree and certification as a special educator from Trinity College and her masters degree from UVM, also in special education. Ms. Chouinard is embarking on her 30th year as a special educator at Northfield Elementary School in Northfield Vermont, her 16th year as an intensive needs special educator. Ms. Chouinard received the Vermont Council of Special Education Administrators Golden Apple Award in the year 2009 and was the Vermont Teacher of the Year, 2015. Ms. Chouinard’s passion is creating spaces and strengths-based educational opportunities for children with complex needs. Ms. Chouinard is inspired by her day to day work with students, families and colleagues. Ms. Chouinard has extensive knowledge and experience working with educators to actualize the three principles of UDL in all classrooms throughout the school. Ms. Chouinard aspires to inspire a shift in school culture to eliminate the deficit model of special education by teaching Belonging to all students. Ms. Chouinard champions for every student having a place and purpose in our classrooms.

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