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Board of Trustees


Head of School Welcome Letter


Looking Back: Revenue and Expenses


Commons Fund Donors


E. E. Ford Foundation Grant


Colegio Santa Ana Sister School


Where Have Our Graduates Gone?


What are Our Alumni Up To?


Parent Volunteers and Home Town Geography





Brian Leffler

Martha Maksym

Kyler Robinson ‘06

Chair, Brian Leffler Secretary, Craig Heindel Treasurer, Kyler Robinson ’06 Carly Lagasse ‘09 Dinah Larsen Rebecca Lindy Coll Faisal Gill Martha Maksym Suzanne Mantegna Tina Mueller

Rebecca Lindy Coll

Craig Heindel

Dinah Larsen

Carly Lagasse ‘09

Adriana Comtois, Faculty Representative Galen Fastie, outgoing President of Student Senate Amira Silverman, incoming President of Student Senate Dexter Mahaffey, ex officio Tina Mueller

Suzanne Mantegna

Faisal Gill

Adriana Comtois


December 2017 Dear Vermont Commons School Community, As I write this I am struck by the stunning contrasts of a Vermont winter day in all its glory: the blinding brightness of the season’s first real snow meeting a cloudless blue sky. Warm sun competes with a sharp wind; temperatures drop to the single digits. The light on the lake at the foot of the Adirondacks (which we can now see from the school!) reminds us that this place was here long before we arrived and that our wisdom, care, and stewardship are needed to protect it for the future. The beauty of the Champlain Valley together with the calling to help it endure is what ties many of us to this particular piece of the world. The same could be said for Vermont Commons School. As we come to the close of our 20th year (a mere spark in the ages that Vermont itself has been in existence) it behooves us to look at what continues to happen here but also what is happening in the outside world as the result of the many students who have passed through these doors. Make sure you read the Alumni News section to see our mission alive and well and making change. The remarkable things that happen inside and outside of these walls and the calling to help it endure is what ties many of us to this particular community. Nurturing each student’s unique path, progress, and passion is a humbling vocation, one that requires all our faculties, wisdom, and care. Visitors to the school often tell us Vermont Commons is what education should look and feel like, that they wish a school like ours existed when they were students-free of the encumbrances of bureaucracy, scale, and indifference so prevalent elsewhere. Those of us who have the good fortune to work and learn here each day feel the same wonder as those visitors, something I expect many of you reading this also share. When a school places individual learning--in the context of an intentionally-minded community of learners--as the utmost priority and then empowers and charges each child to leverage their knowledge and skill in creative ways toward the betterment of the world, you have something unparalleled. You have Vermont Commons.

I believe that this community’s incredible ongoing generosity--without which we simply could not continue to thrive--is because you share similar sentiments about Vermont Commons. While we may have come into our maturity as a school with robust enrollment, extraordinary faculty, strong facilities, and excellent program, we cannot thank you sufficiently for your ongoing support. You can trust that every dollar will always count and be cautiously used here--in practice and as a matter of principle. I remain in continued awe of your stewardship and am, on behalf of the faculty and students, current and future, profoundly grateful. With warm wishes to you and yours, Dr. Dexter P. Mahaffey Head of School



Judd Allen Susan Ames Anonymous Patrick Astill Josh and Sage Bagnato Katherine Bailey Ben Barker ‘09 Sam Barrocas ‘08 Marcia Bedig and Ira Bernstein Jamie Benson ‘15 Andrea and Joey Bergstein Rob and Kristin Bingel Jenna Bisset Casey Blanchard Carol Blattspieler Virginia Borrok Ruth Bortzfield Kelsey Boudette ’08 David and Kelli Brown Rob and Holly Buck Richard and Mary Burack Kevin Burget and Rebeccca Foster Billy Ray and Delores Burkett Donna Burkett and Julian Ferris Linda Bursell Richard and Linda Busciglio Ellie Byers Chance Cardamone-Knewstub Joe and Kathleen Carrara Jason and Jillian Clark Mark and Susan Cline Lucey Jennifer Cohen Rebecca and Matthew Coll Mary and Paul Colombo Adriana and Michael Comtois Peter and Kate Cornell Mary Cotton ‘01 Julia Luckett Cox ‘08 Laurie and George Daniels Ross and Fayne Daniels Josh Decatur ’11 Kristin Decatur Elysia and Ezra Doty Bill Duchac and Cheryl Betz Nona Estrin and Charles Johnson Wafic Faour and Helen Arnold Griffin Fargo ’08 Bob and Debbie First Curtis Fisher and Michele Olvera Nina Foster Christian Frey ‘11 Andrew and Joan Furtsch Stephanie Furtsch

Bethany and Rick Gibbs Linda Gilpin Peter Goff Ethan Goldman and Alicia Fisk Marielle Goosens and Kurt Schulz Diana Guyer Leslie Halperin and Brian Dunkiel Michael Halperin Ed Hamilton and Maja Smith Mary Hamilton Richard and Lynne Hansen Hank and Natalie Harder Jory Hearst Richard Hecht and Sharon Panitch Craig Heindel and Judy Chaves Naomi Heindel ‘03 Ruth Heindel ‘06 Bill and Marley Hickson David Hoag Alex Hollender ‘07 Jack Homer ‘09 John Homer Maggie Homer ’14 Will Homer ’11 Christie and Chris Howell William and Lucie Huckabay Chuck Hulse and Molly Rideout Willard and Carolyn Jackson Nancy and Mark Jaffe Giovanna and Michael Jager Greg John ‘01 Susannah Johnson ‘11 Margaret Kannenstine Mark and Clara Keegan Andrea Lee Kelly Elinor May Klein Elizabeth Knup Augusta and Troy Krahl Carley Lagasse ‘09 Petronella Lair Robert Lair and Adrie Kusserow Paul and Ruth Lamberson Courtney Lamontagne Rose Lansbury Tasha and Brian Lansbury Dinah Larsen and Alain Brizard Steve Lausier Stacy and Tom Lee Brian and Collen Leffler David Lemal Lisa Lillibridge Jim Lockridge and Victoria St. John Sarah Ann Loughran

Ed and Lore Lucey Alma Jane Macauley Robert and Pam Macauley Neil and Jane MacDonald Dexter Mahaffey and Era MacDonald Martha and Bill Maksym Suzanne and John Mantegna Christina Marnellos Nancy Marnellos Tom Marrinson and Allison Beach Jeff McCarthy and Martha Zimicki Kate and Tim McGowan Debby McIsaac Robert Melamede Peter and Karen Meyer Jadrian Miles Eric Mills Debby Mital Leah Mital Kristofer Mohlman Heather Moore and Ben Patrick Holly Morehouse and Nick Warner Stephanie and Nathaniel Neider Nick and Beth Nichols Carol O’Connor Newland and Jo Oldham Jen and Phil Oldham Sarah Oliveira Adina Panitch Amy Panitz Frank and Mary Ellen Partel Joe Perrotto and Sarah Bunker Amy and Matthew Phillippo Ernie and Dee Pomerleau Karen and John Poulin Liz and Dan Raddock Jessica Redmond Bud Reed Alison Reeves and Ned Richardson Phil and Abby Retzloff Teddy Retzloff ‘11 Margaret Richardson Kyler Robinson ‘06 Jordan and Kate Romm Betsy Rosenbluth Sheila Rowland Mike and Margaret Russell Ruby Russell ‘09 Todd Sarandos and Dana Valentine Allan and Joan Schulz Gillian Peta Senior Bill and Jane Shearer Jonathan Silverman & Martha Whitfield


Robert and Marley Skiff Mary Jane Stanley Pammella Starbuck Lauren and Gordon Starkey Joyce and Donald Steele Aimee Stephenson Josie Stout ’08 David Strawbridge Carey and Matthew Strobeck Mal and Marjorie Swartz

V. Ferris Todd Mario Trabulsy Philip Trabulsy Cathy and Chris Townsend Patricia and Charles Townsend Anthony and Joanne Vaccaro Ann Von Bernewitz Glenn Von Bernewitz Ben Wang Charles Watson

Becky Wigglesworth and Olaf Verdonk Bob Wigglesworth Morgan Webster Deborah Wetmore Brian and Betsy Whitney J. Larry Williams Tim and Lisa Williams Barbara Wood Stephanie Woods Kristin and Mark Yardley Hua Zhang

Businesses, Foundations, Grants and Trusts A Little Something Amazon Smile The Brooks Foundation Energy North, Inc. The Ford Foundation

Gay and Lesbian Fund of Vermont, Inc. Hannaford Helps Harold Sweatt Foundation Intrumart Morgan Stanley Foundation

Network for Good The Scoop Scribblitt SoYo Frozen Yogurt


Vermont Commons School was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation in June 2017. This grant which requires $50,000 in matching gifts, will underwrite a program to create access for three students with Refugee status to attend Vermont Commons School for the four years of high school and then go on to college. The grant will cover that part of tuition that all families on financial assistance are required to contribute for the four years of high school for three refugee students living in the Burlington area. Grant funds also cover supplies for academics, athletics, transportation and access to Encounter Week trips, such as a visit to our sister schools in Peru or China, service work in Belize or St. John U.S.V.I., or backcountry trips in the Maine wilderness.

In keeping with our new mission “Scholarship. Community. Global Responsibility.”, we are partnering with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, King St. Center, and the Boys and Girls Club of Burlington, local organizations with their finger on the pulse of the Refugee community, to identify students and families who are interested in rigorous progressive education. In addition, part of this grant will go toward developing partnerships with local colleges and universities to create an avenue for these students to continue--and successfully complete--their post-secondary education. Often, a Refugee family will have to wait a generation to seek out a college education until their financial circumstances allow. As 100% of Vermont Commons School graduates have gone on to college since our inception in 1997, it is our goal that with these partnerships and our college preparation, that missed opportunity won’t be necessary. The E. E. Ford Foundation has been providing grants to independent high schools for 60 years. Their mission is “…to strengthen and support independent secondary schools and to challenge and inspire them to leverage their unique talents, expertise and resources to advance teaching and learning throughout this country by supporting and disseminating best practice, by supporting efforts to develop and implement models of sustainability, and by encouraging collaboration with other institutions.”

John Gulla, Executive Director of the Foundation, states, “In an educational world seemingly hell-bent on homogenization, we represent, as a group of schools, the maxim that is truer than any other I have discovered in this work that we do: … in our approach to education, it can never be ‘one size fits all.’ In that light, the Foundation looks to support innovative schools that capitalize on their unique strengths to move high school level education forward on a national level.” Vermont Commons School is presently looking for students with Refugee status interested in attending high school at Vermont Commons. Candidates should contact Jill Strawbridge, Director of Admissions, at 802-865-8084 or for information on the application process.


The Vermont Commons community was excited to welcome our new friends from Colegio Santa Ana in Lima, Peru during the Fall of 2016. The group of 17 students and faculty visited for 10 days staying with host families. The brainchild of Adriana Comtois, Chair of the World Languages Department, the two schools have continued our relationship with an Encounter Week visit last May and more visits including faculty exchanges planned for the future! We are in the process of formalizing our sister-school relations.


We sure miss them, but what a list of exciting colleges!

Bard College, NY Carleton, MN Columbia University, NY DePaul University, IL Miami University, OH Middlebury College, VT Mount Holyoke, MA Northeastern University, MA Skidmore College, NY St. Michael’s College, VT University of Colorado, Boulder University of Denver, CO University of Maine, Orono Vassar College, NY Willamette University, OR


Ruby Russell ’09 and Will Hayden ’09: We are living in Burlington with our pup Dobby. We tied the knot in December 2016 at the Charlotte Beach with the help of former schoolmate and amazing photographer Julia Cox ’08. Will works at the Farmhouse Tap and Grill preparing delicious meals and Ruby is in medical school at the University of Vermont and will graduate in 2019. We are loving having a dog who joins us on adventures in this beautiful state.

Ross Hiatt ’13: I graduated this past May from Eckerd College [they graduate in their bathing suits, hence the graduation garb]. So far, I have been recuperating and working at Oh My DOG Daycare after 4 long years of school but I am prepping to take the GREs in the spring and apply to graduate schools! My long-term goal is to design crops to be healthy, safe, and resilient to growing pressures caused by climate change, ie. drought resistance, low light conditions, high light conditions, etc.

Naomi Heindel ’03 is excited to share that she and husband Jordan welcomed son Asa just Before Thanksgiving! Grandparents Craig Heindel (VCS Trustee of around 13 years!) and Judy Chaves are out in Wyoming visiting as of this writing. Ruth Heindel ’06 is close by doing Post Doc work at UC Boulder and has already visited as well. Craig is pictured here with a cozy Asa. After maternity leave, Naomi will continue her work as curriculum developer at the Teton Science School. Will Homer ’11 has moved to Nashville, is writing songs, playing gigs, and working as a line cook at Tennessee Drifters BBQ. Stop by and see him if you’re in town.

Zannah Johnson ’11: I am back from South Africa where I was based in Cape Town for 2.5 months working at women and children’s center. As an intern I wrote curriculum on gender-based violence and delivered workshops on that topic, self-esteem, identity and self-care. Super cool experience! Now I am back in Boston and hoping to continue my career as a child and family social worker. However, I’m also really getting into women’s health work/policy work. Thinking about going to grad school for a Masters in Social Work, maybe a dual-degree in Social work and Public Health or Public Policy. The election really got me heated about policies and how to make things fairer, especially for at-risk communities and populations.


Carly Lagasse ’09 (and VCS Trustee): These days I am in Montpelier, working at Central Vermont Medical Center, climbing outdoors as much as possible until it gets too cold, and enjoying my time as a first-time Aunt to my beautiful niece Wren.

From Asher Leff ’01: I have lots news this year! I am now a Dad to a beautiful little boy named Leo. My wife and I bought a new house in D.C. and I took a new job and Chief Sales Officer at Sparkfund.

Gabe Mantegna ’13, pictured here with siblings Nick ’18 and Nina ’16, graduated in June from Johns Hopkins and is presently working for a start-up in Baltimore, Manta Biofuel. They are using algae to develop a renewable and carbon neutral replacement for crude oil.

From Mark Rowland ’11: I’ve been living in Washington D.C. since January 2016 where I’ve been working for a market research and consulting firm called HawkPartners. As a Poli-Sci and Chinese major in college, this is pretty far from where I saw myself a few years ago but I’ve been loving it. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve been able to travel all over the country, and a bit internationally, for work. I did ROTC in college and am now in the Delaware National Guard. I’ve been doing that since I graduated. In that role, I had a chance encounter last January at the inauguration when I bumped into Will Homer ’11 and Josh ’11 and Justin Decatur ’13!

Graduation 2017


Our sincere thanks to: Judd Allen Chris and Kyra Bell Laurie Daniels Laura Fried Marielle Goosens Doug and Bridget Kerr Stacy and Tom Lee Suzanne Mantegna Holly Morehouse Jen Oldham Sharon Panitch Kurt Schulz Lauren Starkey Cathy Townsend Lisa and Tim Williams

Helene Arnold Kelli Brown Tim Dartt Andrew Furtsch Leslie Halperin Paul Lamberson Tasha and Brian Lansbury Kate and Tim McGowan Beth Wermuth-Nichols Sarah Oliveira Alison Reeves Deidre Senior Aimee Stephenson Pauline Tyler

Jo Astill-Vaccaro Ruth Burack-Lamberson Donna Burkett LaTrisha Gibbs Rick Hecht Robert Lair Brian Leffler Leah Mital Barbara O’Donovan Michele Olvera Betsy Rosenbluth Rob Skiff Geoff Strawbridge Martha Whitfield

Thank you as well to: The Front Porch Forum and Facebook Brigade, the Spring Food Truck Fling Auction Donors, the Spring Fling Art Show Donors. and all those talented cooks who created food for our various gatherings

We are a far-flung community bringing together all the richness of Vermont and Northern New York.

Keene Valley, NY

Alburg Duxbury Grand Isle Lincoln Richmond Underhill

Burlington Essex Hinesburg Moretown Shelburne Vergennes

Charlotte Essex Junction Jeffersonville North Ferrisburgh South Burlington Warren

Colchester Fletcher Jericho Plattsburgh, NY South Hero Williston


Vermont Commons School Annual Report 2017  
Vermont Commons School Annual Report 2017