St. Johnsbury Academy Announces Summer Educational Symposium

April 29, 2021

Postponed until Summer 2022

Have a great summer and check back later this year for our plans for the 2022 SJA Summer Educational Symposium.



St. Johnsbury Academy Headmaster Sharon Howell recently announced a new summer initiative that will begin this year on the campus of St. Johnsbury Academy: the SJA Summer Educational Symposium. The Symposium, scheduled for July 25-28, 2021, will give educational leaders the opportunity to work with their peers to reimagine the nature and quality of students’ learning and to bridge the distances that have opened between teacher and teacher, teacher and student, and student and student as they begin to move on from the pandemic.


The Symposium will feature respected leaders in education, arts, adolescent development, and educational research. Planned keynote speakers include renowned developmental and cognitive psychologist Howard Gardner; Richard Weissbourd, Senior Lecturer on Education and Faculty Director, Human Development and Psychology at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; Jessica Lahey, author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed; Ivonne Chand O’Neal, Principal, MUSE Research; Wendy Fischman, Director of Harvard Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Boston-based contemporary arts leader Jen Mergel.


Panelists will include Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf, Principal Researcher at WolfBrown; Ivonne Chand O’Neal, Principal, MUSE Research; Rosie Prevost, Photographer, Educator, and Fine Arts Department Chair at St. Johnsbury Academy; Lauren Shelton, Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator at Chula Vista Elementary School District; Ping Ho, Founder and Director, UCLArts & Healing; John Rosinbum, teacher at BASIS Tucson North; Jim Klipfel;  high school teacher, coach, and adviser at Saugus High School; Julia Toews, Chief Academic Officer of BASIS Charter Schools; Kathleen Coghill, AP Capstone and environmental science teacher at William H. Hall High School; John Rosinbum, teacher at BASIS Tucson North; Aaron Bryan, Director of Arts Education for the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools; Molly Shepley, former writing teacher at St. Johnsbury Academy; Gerardo Munoz, social studies teacher, Denver Center for International Studies; Paul Gambill, Executive Director, Community Engagement Lab; Jen Mergel, curator; Dairrick Khalil Hodges, performing artist, vocalist, musician, activist, and social worker; Janae Peters, founding faculty at The Mastery School of Hawken; Jessica Lahey, writer; Ira Rounsaville, social worker at the William S. Hart Union High School District; Martha Neubert, Dean of Equity and Social Justice at the Northfield Mount Hermon School; Jody Fried, Executive Director, Catamount Arts; and Eliza Alexander, Managing Director, Northern New England, AISNE.


Each participant will take part in two panel discussions over two full days and evenings of learning and collaboration. Topics will include fostering creative response in the post-pandemic environment ; shifting our collective  narrative away from “learning loss” toward learning potential;  growing and innovating arts programs to help students find their voices; helping students inspire one another to create original programming and genuine agency; “creative placemaking” collaboration with arts, cultural, and other institutions to expand educational spaces; meeting the mental health and social-emotional needs of students and teachers; addressing diversity, equity, inclusion, and systemic change in the context of multiple crises; and rethinking the “class-room.”


Ample time will also be available during the Symposium for participants to enjoy the beautiful Northeast Kingdom of Vermont with trips to local recreational attractions including Kingdom Trails mountain biking network, nearby lakes, and mountains.


Headmaster Sharon Howell described her vision for the week: “This two-day Summer Symposium for secondary educators and administrators will bring professional colleagues together in a beautiful setting in the green mountains of Vermont to refresh mind, body, and spirit for the new school year. From July 25th-28th in residence at St. Johnsbury Academy, Symposium attendees will gather, consider, listen, and problem-solve during the day—listen to music and inspiring keynotes in the evening—and hike, kayak, make art, bike, cook and eat food from local farms, and enjoy each other’s company throughout.”


The cost for the SJA Summer Educational Symposium is $995 which includes campus housing and all meals. Other options include attending in person and staying off-campus at a local hotel, bed and breakfast, or short-term rental, or attending remotely. More information may be found at the Symposium website.

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