Maggie Brown Cassidy

Commentator

Maggie Brown Cassidy recently retired from teaching French at Brattleboro Union High School. She was also a teacher trainer and founder of the BUHS Swiss Exchange, which provided homestays and immersion experiences for hundreds of students in Vermont and Geneva. She continues to teach adults and has written many features for the Brattleboro Reformer.

The end of the school year is approaching, and with it the end of my first year of retirement after 43 years of teaching French to high-school students.

When Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro announced an exhibit of local Native American artifacts, I made a special trip to the library, but then walked right by the small, anonymous bits of clay and stone in the local history section and had to ask a librarian for directions to the display.

Suddenly, it seems Racism is bubbling up again – this time in unusual places like the Academy Awards.

I grew up in rural upstate New York. I was lucky enough to live in a university town, so that when music changed in the sixties, and folk and gospel entered the mainstream, I could go to concert halls or sports arenas on the university campus to hear Judy Collins, Peter, Paul and Mary and Odetta.

Town Meeting Day is coming up, and in towns and villages all over the state, people will gather for the two-part meeting. In one part, voters consider and vote on their town’s budget, questioning and discussing it, line-item by line-item, special article by special article, and then they vote, either from the floor or by Australian ballot.

After a mass shooting, making our country safer becomes everyone’s top priority, and sales of firearms typically reach new record levels. Gun dealers report that while some people buy because they fear more restrictive laws, others want to arm themselves for protection.

Many of my Facebook friends are former students in my French classes, so it’s unsurprising that after the attacks in Paris my Facebook page was flooded with images of the French flag, the Eiffel tower, and other “I stand with Paris” icons. So I’ve been considering what it means to “stand with Paris."

Vermont’s new law promoting the consolidation of school-districts is generating a lot of conversation and anxiety. Act 77 is getting less public attention, but it’s also bringing radical change to Vermont schools.

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