Professional Learning & Support

Cognitive Restructuring, November 2nd

What if you could improve the resilience of your school community by changing the collective mindset?

The school community is a place where children and adults can learn and thrive together. This is particularly true in schools where there is attention AND intention in cultivating a supportive environment. This is a crucial time to lean in on strategies that will support this effort. Adults will only be their best selves when they are in a safe trusting work environment, where all members of the school know they matter and are committed to not only care for themselves, but also to that of the greater good.

Participants in this workshop will learn about Cognitive Restructuring with clinical psychologist Dr. Joelle van Lent and VPA’s, Erica McLaughlin. This is a well vetted practice, well researched, and highly effective for those willing to participate in this technique on an ongoing basis.

  • Who: Target Audience is School Leaders, Teacher Leaders, District Leadership
  • When: Wednesday, November 2nd 1:00 – 3:00 with two following Question and Answer sessions lasting 45 min each will be offered in December and  February (dates to be determined based on needs of participants).
  • Time: The Initial learning session will be 2 hours with 2 other 45 min sessions for a total of 3.5 hours of direct service.
  • Location: Online (Zoom)
  • Cost: $250 for an individual, $225 per person if joining as a team of three or more

Learn More & Register Here

Step Up to Conflict: Open Enrollment, November 3rd

The Step Up to Conflict workshop is developed by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) in collaboration with the Eckerd College Leadership Development Institute, a valued partner of CCL for over 30 years.

We believe that:


  • Conflict is inevitable: When people work together they bring differing perspectives, opinions and motives that can lead to conflict.
  • Conflict is not always bad: Many conflicts — when handled properly — can create an atmosphere of creativity and innovation.
  • Conflict management skills can be learned: While natural ability is helpful, we know these skills can be effectively developed and improved.
  • Mobilizing reframes boundaries to develop community.
  • Weaving interlaces boundaries to advance interdependence.
  • Transforming cross-cuts boundaries to enable reinvention.
Date: 11/3/22
Time: 8:30am to 12:30pm
Location: VSBIT Conference Room in Berlin, VT.
Target Audience: Vermont Educators
Cost: $200 per participant, includes materials, refreshments, and lunch

Register Here

Stretching Your Learning Edges, Growing (Up) at Work, November 16th

Jennifer Abrams Webinar: Shared offering with VCSEA and VPA: At this moment in time when things are so uncertain and so ever shifting, it is critically important that we strive to develop ourselves, not just as educators, but as human beings. What can we do to be bigger and better versions of ourselves as collaborative team members and as leaders? This 90 minute webinar, based on Jennifer’s new book, Stretching Your Learning Edges: Growing (Up) at Work, will introduce us to five focused ways we can develop ourselves at work.

Who: Target Audience is Education Administrators & Teachers
When: Wednesday, November 16th, 3:15pm to 4:45pm (live webinar)
Cost: $100
With Presenter: Jennifer Abrams

Learn More and Register

Recorded Webinar: “How Innovative Schools Are Addressing Social Media, Current Events, and Tech”

To view/listen to the recorded 30 minute webinar, click here

Date of Recording: Monday, September 19th, 2022 with The Social Institute

More on the Webinar: This Webinar was hosted by Laura Tierney, Founder and CEO of The Social Institute and celebrated leader in supporting school communities. She shares strategies that fuel students’ health, happiness, and success. Viewers will get an introduction to:

  • Best practices to modernize your approach to modern life skills and social media education, engage 100% of students, and address student well-being.
  • Latest research behind why schools are adopting a positive approach to social media that empowers and equips students, rather than scares and restricts.
  • The role of social media and technology in student well-being

Ongoing Offerings

Half-Day, Center for Creative Leadership Workshops

Thanks to the VPA Waddington Leadership Initiative, the VPA is able to offer 7 additional workshops to VPA member organizations. The overall cost of these workshops for VPA member organizations is reduced by more than half. Vermont schools and districts can learn more and schedule any of the below listed half day workshops here:

  • Leading People Through Change
  • Influence-The Business of Getting Things Done
  • Feedback That Works
  • Step Up to Conflict
  • Direction, Alignment, Commitment
  • Boundary Spanning, Turning Boundaries Into Frontiers
  • Learning Agility: Unlock the Lessons of Experience

Half-Day Effective Learning Environment Practices Workshop

This workshop focuses on the development of effective classroom management and teaching reflective practices. Some educators struggle with unwanted student behaviors that impact the opportunity for a safe and healthy learning environment. This workshop focuses on strategies for educators that build  high expectations and real time support for unwanted student behavior. This workshop focuses on strategies that build strong relationships with students while holding students accountable for high expectations which ultimately alleviates unwanted behaviors. 

Participants will learn how to:

  • Teach and facilitate shared expectations along with teaching content
  • Develop classroom norms, procedures and process to ensure a positive learning environment
  • Discipline, not punish, as necessary in a way that affirms student dignity 
  • Provide feedback to students on behavior using the SBI research method
  • Learn the 7 C’s of classroom Climate
  • Utilize the zone of proximal development to make sure students are engaged
  • Design the physical learning environment in a student-friendly manner

Contact: Jay Nichols at for more details and cost structure


The staff absolutely loved the session! They really appreciated the energy and the positivity. They also really liked how they got some practical ideas.  At least two staff members rearranged their rooms from the activity we did. Many folks came up to me afterwards to say that it was a great session.”  -Erika Schneider, Director, Hartford Area Career and Technology Center

“Not only was the content “spot-on”, but the delivery, tone and pace was just what we were looking for. Frankly, I thought it was one of the best we’ve had here for our staff in some time.” -Scott Farnsworth Assistant Director Hartford Area Career & Technology Center

Better Conversations Every Day (Full Day Workshop)

The VPA has worked closely with the Center for Creative Leadership to be able to offer Better Conversations Everyday to Vermont educators. Nearly 200 Vermont educators have already had the chance to experience this capacity building, highly engaging and effective one day workshop. View more information here, and inquire directly with Mike ( or Jay ( for costs and open dates.

Waddington Leadership Initiative Cohorts w/Center for Creative Leadership

The Waddington Leadership Initiative is currently enrolled through cohorts 11 and 12. We will alert members when additional opportunities and cohorts are opened. We are anticipating the application process for cohorts 13 and 14 will be announced in November, 2022. Read More on the Cohorts

VPA Podcast

The VPA has podcast series with a growing number of episodes. Check out the descriptions and listen here. Now available on Apple Podcasts.

VPA School Visits

Members of the VPA staff welcome the chance to visit our members in their schools. We can get to know one another better, hear from members directly, and see schools in action. We also can highlight some of the great work happening around the state. If you are interested in having VPA staff visit you school, feel free to fill out this form.

Ongoing Support Offerings

VPA Zoom Drop In Meetings

Check VPA-Leads weekly newsletter for the zoom links and notes. We have been offering zoom drop-in meetings for school leaders since Mid-March 2020. We recommend blocking a time in your calendar and join when you are able. Open to all VPA members.

  • 9am on Mondays focuses on High Schools
  • 9am on Thursdays focuses on Middle Schools
  • 9am on Fridays focuses on Elementary Schools
  • 9am on the 4th Wednesday of the month focuses on New School Leaders
  • 9am on Wednesdays focuses on Athletic Directors

Mentoring and Mentor Training

The VPA offers three mentor training dates per year to keep current mentors up-to-date and to invite new mentors into the mentoring program. The VPA also helps match new school leaders in Vermont with mentors. (read more & registration). 

Member Affinity Spaces

“A Place of Our Own”- Affinity Group for Vermont Administrators of Color (VPA member benefit)

 “Just a quick note to thank you for your leadership with the VPA Affinity Group for Leaders Of Color.  It was, by far, one of the most supportive, inspiring, and informative 90 minutes I’ve ever had in my professional career.  We’re talking top 2-3 here- and my career is 28 years old. I am truly grateful to you.” (2020 VPA Affinity group member)

Our group provides an opportunity for BIPOC administrators, working in predominantly white schools to come together and share experiences, learn from and support each other through our triumphs and challenges. The sharing of stories, experiences, ideas, successes and lots of laughter, provide a place for healing and growth that allows for racial equity transformation. Additionally our affinity group has become a wonderful place to network, make state-wide connections and as well as  providing leadership and guidance on issues of educational equity.

The group is facilitated by Bonnie Johnson-Aten, long-time educator in Vermont and currently Principal at Edmunds Elementary School, with support from Kevin Robinson, Integrated Arts Academy Principal.  We will generally meet virtually once a month, with quarterly in-person gatherings.We hope you will consider joining us.


Bonnie Johnson-Aten

“A Place of Our Own” An Affinity group for LGBTQIA+ Administrators (A VPA member benefit)

“I want to share with you that during a segment of our Leadership Team meeting, I ended up finally “outing” myself to all my district colleagues. I share this with you because the confidence, level of social-emotional safety, and security I have been experiencing as a result of being in the affinity group paved the way for this to happen today.  I was able to leave day one of this week-long meeting feeling more empowered and secure in my own inner truth than I have in my last two years.”  (2020 VPA Affinity group member)

Our group provides an opportunity for LGBTQIA+ administrators and athletic directors, to come together and share experiences, learn from and support each other. The sharing of stories, experiences, ideas, successes, challenges, and lots of laughter, provide a safe and secure place for our tribe.  We have found that similar issues come up, no matter where we work in Vermont.  Additionally, our affinity group has become a wonderful place to network and make state-wide connections, as well as provide leadership and guidance on LGBTQIA+ issues.

The group is facilitated by Kevin Dirth, former Superintendent of the Maple Run Unified Schools and long-time educator in Vermont. We generally meet virtually once a month and hope to occasionally meet in person several times a year. We hope you will consider joining us.

Kevin can be contacted at:

Direct One-to-One Support

  • As one part of VPA member benefits, members can reach out directly to the VPA for an initial consultation on any given challenge in real-time.

Leading Vermont Schools, Cohorts

  • This program is focused on relatively new and new to Vermont principals and assistant principals. It is a cohort model course that meets once a month. In person and hybrid options are available. If you are new or relatively new please consider signing up. If you know of a new leader please share this information with them. For more information you can read the 2022-23 brochure here and you could email me with any questions. Jay Nichols,

Vermont Employee Assist Program

  • INVEST EAP, The Employee Assistance Program offers help and support for you and the members of your household for a wide range of issues including

Support At the National Level

National Federation of High School Sports (NFHS)

  • Resources and support on all kinds of sorts of related rules and issues, The NFHS is the body that writes the rules of competition for most high school sports and activities in the United States. Most high schools, whether public or private, belong to their state’s high school association; in turn, each state association belongs to the NFHS. Over 17,000 high schools belong to associations that are members of the NFHS.

National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) Leadership Networks

  • NASSP is the leading organization of and voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the United States and 35 countries around the world. NASSP’s (National Association of Secondary School Principals) Leadership Networks are collaborative spaces for school leaders to share similar lived experiences, passions, and interests so we can connect with each other on a personal and professional level. All networks meet monthly for one hour.

National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP)

  • As a national organization, NAESP operates through a network of affiliated associations in every state, the District of Columbia, Canada, and overseas.