UVM Credited for Winooski School’s Resurgence

Winooski’s John F. Kennedy Elementary school is the kind of place whose charms don’t always show up in standardized test reports.

With 16 percent special needs students and 12 percent needing extra help with English, the school receives considerable state and federal aid.

But when the state released scores on Sept. 19, JFK’s results were at or above the state average.

Principal Robert Pequignot says that the school’s accomplishments “defy most results when it comes to schools with children of high need,” and he gives much of the credit to a three-year partnership with UVM’s College of Education and Social Services

“Our literacy faculty worked to develop a systems reform effort in literacy that has been wildly successful with genuine gain in kids’ reading and in teachers’ confidence and skill in teaching reading,” says Jill Tarule, the college’s dean.

Both UVM and the school have collected data and scores to prove the effectiveness of these efforts, and have presented the results in journals and at conferences nationwide.

Pequignot spoke at the National Chief State School Officers convention in Palm Springs, Calif., in June, after JFK was chosen as one of seven schools in the nation to demonstrate significant change in their school through a planned approach to reform.

“I personally have been working with JFK for nine years – they have really decided to make this a safe and engaging school with high expectations,” says Mekkelsen.

“They’ve worked really hard. The results are impressive. What they’ve accomplished at JFK makes it much more difficult for other schools to say they can’t do the same thing.

“JFK is a diverse, high-needs school with few resources. And these kids are performing.”