PLAINFIELD, Vermont – Senator Bernie Sanders was in Plainfield on Friday to visit the summer program at Twinfield Union School, one of many across Vermont that saw higher enrollment and more activity in because of the financing of the American rescue plan.
$ 71 million in federal assistance has made it possible to create summer programs that are longer, well staffed and, most importantly, more affordable for families.
Senator Sanders said removing those barriers had a big impact on the thousands of children who might otherwise have been stuck at home during the summer.
“Summer programs are always important, after-school programs are always important, but especially after this year when the kids were so isolated, when the kids fell behind in their schoolwork, we thought it was extremely important to do everything possible to give the children a good summer, ”said Senator Sanders. “I think in Vermont we do.”
For many students in the program, this is the first time in over a year that they have had routine social interaction with their peers. Sanders said the positivity has spread beyond college students as well.
“It’s the parents, it’s the staff,” said Senator Sanders. “I just spoke to a member of staff here who told me how exciting and beautiful it is to finally see the kids she works with every day in person.”
Rachel Hartman is one such staff member, and she has been busy this summer leading programs through the Caledonia Central Monitoring Union. Hartman, who is also deputy principal of Twinfield Union School, said additional funds have allowed organizers to bring more variety to the program.
“Art, physical education, theater, we did more things outside, so we had the opportunity not only to study, but also a lot of socio-emotional learning”, a Hartman said.
Principal Mark Mooney told me pandemic isolation was difficult for Twinfield, even when classes could be held in person. In retrospect, however, he said there were aspects that made the tight-knit K-12 community even stronger.
“I’ve never felt the ‘you need a village’ attitude so much in our community,” Mooney said. “There has been so much support from community members and parents, and in many ways it has been a wonderful year, and my enthusiasm for fall is off the charts. “