The Vermont Principals Association
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Sideline Conversations – JJ Castillo

Introducing Sideline Conversations: a podcast for those that are interested in athletics and sport. We’re hoping to connect with those who were athletes, are athletes or work with athletes, to build some connection between what athletes go through and how it connects to their life and their career. We’re looking to see how athletics connects to everyday lives and hoping that the guests we are able to cultivate and bring in can bring some insights and some revelations to many of you and maybe some connections that you also feel in your day to day life.

My first podcast is with a former student-athlete of mine from La Quinta, California, JJ Castillo. I thought of JJ for this because he is an incredible soccer player and a first generation Mexican American. His dreams of playing professional soccer didn’t pan out but his journey evolved into working in the soccer industry in a different way! His story and outlook is so positive, give it a listen!

Episode 14 – Bob Johnson

In this episode, we talk with Bob Johnson, Associate Executive Director at the Vermont Principals’ Association. We had the chance to talk to Bob on his last day at the office before retirement. Bob has worked for the VPA for the past 19 years. We hear about his early career, how the job functions and get some of his advice in the work going forward to best support all students and their communities.

Episode 15 – Alin Bennett – Education Reimagined

In this episode we spoke with Alin Bennett of education reimagined. Alin is Education Reimagined’s Vice President of Practice and Field Advancement. He is a staunch advocate for national school transformation and creating an equitable education system. His previous work has included supporting curriculum development, leading advisories, and leading schools in ways that continuously advanced learner-centered, equity-based practices. Alin is based in Providence, RI where he lives with his wife and two young children.


Episode 13 – Joe Truss

In this episode, we speak with Joe Truss of Truss Leadership. Joe will be a speaker and stand presenter at 2022 leadership academy. Joe is committed to dismantling white supremacy culture in schools. He is a father of 3 children and a husband of a High School History Teacher. He brings 18 years of education experience, and originally grew up in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. Learn more about Joe and his current offerings at:

Episode 12 – Future Design School

In this episode, we speak with Sandra Nagy, who leads the Education Practice at Future Design School, building strong academic partnerships with school leaders that help to drive their strategic priorities through consulting support, professional development and efficacious curriculum resources. We talk with Sandra about the premise of the school, their Future of Education Report, and the how and why schools might more fundamentally reimagine the goals, design, and methods of learning to better help students be future ready. Here is the link to their upcoming, June 7th free webinar event: Understanding the Future of Education 


Episode 11: VT Entrepreneurship & Education

We talk with Laurel Butler of the VT Small Business Development Center, Tammie-Jo Dickinson Champlain Valley Union High School Business Teacher, and Gwen Pokalo of the Vermont Center for Women and Enterprise about the importance of developing entrepreneurial skills and what we can do to increase access to business development for underserved Vermont populations. Related links: Community Navigator Program

Additional Links for Secondary Students and Educators:

Main Link:

Competition for Student Business Plan (Business Model Canvas) and Business Video Pitch:

Professional Development for Educators – last year info – and will be similar for fall 2022:

Episode 10: Democracy in the Kitchen

In this episode, we talk with UVM’s Dr. Belliveau and educator, Kathy Lara about all that can be learned when you are cooking to learn, not just learning to cook–in the course, “Democracy in the Kitchen, John Dewey’s Education Through Cooking and Eating” Learn more at: 

Episode Nine: With Sarah Pickering

(September 9, 2020) On this episode of the VPA podcast Mike spoke with Sarah Pickering. Sarah is the 2020 National Association of Secondary Schools Vermont Robert Pierce High School Principal of the year. She is the principal of Arlington Memorial High School in Arlington. Ms. Pickering just began her third year at Arlington and previously served as principal of West Rutland. Sarah’s nomination was full of support and praise.


Episode Eight: With Stacy Rice

(September 3, 2020) On this episode of the VPA podcast Mike spoke with Stacy Rice. Stacy is the 2020 John Winton Vermont Middle Level Principal of the year. She was the principal of Burke Town School in West Burke. At the beginning of the 2020 – 2021 school year, she took on the roll of Director of Student Services in the Kingdom East School District central office. Stacy’s nomination was full of support and praise.

Stacy Rice is an educational leader who most definitely creates an inclusive, caring and supportive environment for both students AND teachers. She knows every student by name and gives them a warm hello and welcome.”

She cares deeply about students living in poverty and works tirelessly to promote their wellbeing by making all school activities equally accessible and strong for all students.”

Episode Seven: With Jeff Renard of VTVLC

(May 14, 2020) Mike spoke with Jeff Renard of VTVLC. VTVLC is offering the Online Teaching Best Practices course to help teachers prepare for next year. This standards-based, 10-hour online course is facilitated by an experienced online teacher in cohorts up to 14 educators over a 3-week period. Start dates are flexible up to June 15th. Administrators can pre-register their cohorts here. Schools are also able to choose from a long list of supports, including Canvas and online content with over 140 course titles so teachers do not have to develop and curate over the summer. Full list of titles can be found here. Additional questions can be directed to  Director/Principal at