LUDLOW, Vt. – With 30 years of experience in Vermont’s education system, new Two Rivers Supervisory Union Superintendent Meg Powden is using the full-breadth of her specialized insight to move forward with significant progress that local educators and School Board members have already put in motion.
Powden began her tenure on July 1.
“I’m at a point in my career where I really like looking at the big picture and thinking about students and how we can provide the optimal educational opportunities for them,” she said in an interview. “I thoroughly enjoy working with the adults who care about education and our students.”
In addition to the challenges of declining enrollment, Powden sees administering a rigorous and relevant curriculum to all students as a critical component of the learning organization that must be addressed.
Working with Curriculum Coordinator Michael Eppolito and other administrators throughout the Union, Powden hopes to make the educational practices at Two Rivers Supervisory Union more effective.
Eppolito has been working with secondary teachers on developing proficiency-based learning units of study, which presents a shift in the current educational practices of the union. This shift stems from Act 77, a bill known as Flexible Pathways that was passed by the legislature in 2013 that incorporates personalized learning through performance-based assessments.
“In personalizing that learning we work with our students to develop plans based on their passions and interests, as well as our requirements and expectations,” Powden explained. “It’s a way to engage our students in their own learning and their path; it’s also a way to support them in their future endeavors.”
Another obstacle Powden and her team must contend with is Act 46, a bill implemented in 2015, that has played a major role in the actions of school districts throughout the state by addressing the issue of location-based educational disparities.
“Even though there’s been funding to try to alleviate the situation, it’s clear that some of our students in certain schools just don’t get the opportunities that students in other schools get,” said Powden.
Furthermore, with approximately 60 supervisory unions in the state, Act 46 was put forth in an effort to find solutions to governance complications, while creating efficiencies and being fiscally mindful, according to Powden.
“One of the issues our (state) legislature has been dealing with is the fact that our property tax rates keep going up and up and up,” she said. “It’s just not sustainable to keep asking our taxpayers to do that, so this is a way to address that situation.”
During an era of considerable change in the landscape of Vermont’s educational system, many believe Two Rivers Supervisory Union is fortunate to be under the helm of Powden, who seems to be a well-equipped, teamwork-oriented administrator armed with the necessary knowledge to guide the union over whatever hurdles may lie ahead.
Powden began her career in 1986 working as a middle school guidance counselor at Rutland Junior High. Her most recent position was as Superintendent of the Windsor Northwest Supervisory Union, which was dissolved by the State Board of Education in January of 2015 due to its comparatively small size.