We’re On The Move

A Newcomer’s Guide to the Bethel Public Schools

This is the address of the Bethel Public Schools website. Consult the site for detailed information about curriculum, calendars, events, research links, and newsletters. It’s all here.

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Facilities and Location

Located just a few minutes east of New York State and 68 miles north of Manhattan, Bethel is distinctive in many ways. It is both one of the smallest and one of the newest (a mere 150 years old!) towns in western Connecticut. Home to Duracell batteries, Eaton Corporation, and Ability Beyond Disability. Bethel was once home to one of America’s most famous independent showmen, P.T. Barnum himself.

Crammed inside its 17 square miles are numerous eateries that attract large crowds each night. Historic Greenwood Avenue houses unique shops, is the locale for special events such as Trick or Treating, a November Christmas Tree Lighting, the annual book fair and sales days. The Route 6 corridor, Clarke and Berkshire Business Parks serve as magnets for commercial ventures. Despite its timeless, small-town New England charm, this little gem of a town is part of thriving Fairfield County and is connected directly to Manhattan and Boston by a commuter rail line that goes right through downtown.

All five of Bethel’s public schools and athletic facilities are located in a beautiful 140-acre Educational Park near the geographical center of the community. The site is considered to be one of the most attractive and functional school complexes in this part of the nation. Parents find the proximity of the schools to be ideal for car-pooling, facilitating transitions between schools, and participating in the full scope of services offered by the school system. The park is the social and recreational center of the community.

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District Governance

The Bethel Public Schools are directed by a nine-member Board of Education nominated by political parties and elected to serve four-year terms. The Board enjoys membership in the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education. It actively represents Bethel on state educational issues and follows the policies recommended by this state organization. The Board of Education meets bi-weekly to attend to matters of policy, curriculum review, finance, and monitors the progress of the schools’ learning initiatives. Each meeting of the Board includes a time for audience participation. Site-based school committees generate initial budgets for the Town’s schools. The Board of Education reviews all budgetary recommendations and forwards a proposed budget to the Town’s Board of Finance for approval. All budgets are subject to a May referendum of the eligible voters in the community. The Connecticut Association of Boards of Education nominated the Board of Education for the Magna Award by the National School Board’s Association and for the Leadership Award.

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District Financing

Per Pupil Spending is calculated and published annually as part of the budget process. This expenditure includes salaries, equipment, support services, transportation, and plant operations. Additionally, the Town has funded building renovations at various schools and upgrades to mechanical systems through both short and long term bonds. Schools are funded through a property tax.

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District Administration

Dr. Christine Carver is the Superintendent of Schools. She is responsible for the general oversight of the school program. Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Kristen Brooks, is responsible for the development of district-wide curriculum and instructional initiatives, the integration of state of the art technology into the schools, and the development of expanded opportunities for children at all grade levels. Ms. Jennifer Variale serves as the Director of Finance & Business Operations. She reports to the Board regarding the financial state of the school system and works with the Board and administration to develop and monitor the annual budget. The school system has additional administrators whose specific areas of expertise and responsibility include curriculum, instructional strategy, reading, technology, special education, and facility operations.

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Student Registration

According to Connecticut law, your child must be five years old on or before September 1st to register for kindergarten. There is no deadline for registration, but the Bethel Public Schools urges parents to register early. To be admitted, a child must meet all documentation and health requirements.

Parents of students transferring to BPS from other school districts should enroll their children as soon as they have moved into Bethel and are residents of Bethel. Registration for transfer students is ongoing.

Parents are directed to Registration Information and Procedures to register a new student.

A birth certificate, proof of residency, and immunization records are required for registration.

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School Configuration

Frank A. Berry and Anna H. Rockwell Schools

Frank A. Berry and Anna H. Rockwell Schools house Kindergarten through Grade 2 programs. Additionally, Berry School houses the Circle of Friends pre-school program. Kindergartners must be 5 years of age by September 1 to be enrolled. Assignment to these schools is done by random selection in an effort to maintain equal class sizes at each school. Siblings will be assigned to the same school. Classes begin at 8:55 a.m. and dismiss at 3:30 p.m. daily at each school. Students at both schools ride the same buses.

All educational programs are comparable at both schools. Students have 120 minutes of language arts daily, 60 minutes of math and instruction in history, science, and health as well. Additionally, students have music, art, physical education and time in the media and computer centers each week. The student to computer ratio at the K-3 level is 1:1. Special services include the availability of a guidance counselor, social worker, and psychologist as well as a full range of special education services. The Berry mascot is “The Lion” and Rockwell claims “The Ram”.

Student enrollment at each school is approximately 460. Kindergarten class sizes are projected to be 18 students with one teacher and additional reading assistance as needed. First through second grade class sizes average 19 – 22 students per class.

Each school produces a weekly newsletter for parents. Report cards are distributed 3 times a year. Parent conferences are scheduled twice a year and are available upon request. An active PTO serves each school. Membership information is available through the school office. The principal of Berry School is Mrs. Beth Grieco (office phone is 203-794-8680). Ms. Trisha Soucy is the principal of Rockwell School (office phone is 203-794-8688).

Ralph M. T. Johnson School

Ralph M. T. Johnson School is the home to the Town’s 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students. Student enrollment at this school is approximately 520. Class sizes in both grades average 24 students per class. Classes begin daily at 8:55 a.m. and dismissal is at 3:30 p.m. Students ride buses with middle school children.

The educational program is built upon the expectations developed in grade two. Students have 2 hours of language arts daily, 70 minutes of math and instruction in American History, science, and health. Additionally, students have music, art, physical education and instructional time in the use of technology and the media center. The student to computer ratio in the school is 1:1.Stringed instrument instruction is an elective beginning in the 3rd grade. Stringed instrument, band, and choral performance opportunities make up the elective offerings. Special services include the availability of a guidance counselor, social worker, and psychologist as well as a full range of special education services.

The school mascot is “The Jaguar.” Johnson School has active Character Counts and student recognition programs. The school publishes a weekly newsletter for parents.

Report cards are distributed 3 times a year. Parent conferences are scheduled twice a year and are available upon request. An active PTO serves the school. Membership information is available through the school office.

Mrs. Alison Salerno is the principal of Johnson School. The office phone is 203-794-8700.

Bethel Middle School

Bethel Middle School is a New England League of Middle Schools Spotlight School. It is home of the “Tigers”, and a professional learning community that houses students in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. Enrollment at this school is approximately 700 students. Class size ranges between 18-28 students. The term “middle school” means that each student is assigned to a “cluster” – a small community of learners assigned to a team of academic teachers (5-6) who coordinate their instructional and curricular decisions and plan together to maximize students’ learning experiences. Academics consist of reading, language arts, math, science, and social studies. All students participate in a unified arts program, consisting of computer instruction, health, art, and music in the 6th grade. Additionally, 7th graders begin technology education and world language instruction with Spanish or French. Grade 8 students have the opportunity to participate in a rigorous entrepreneurship class. A physical education program is offered to all grades with an option of band, chorus, or orchestra on alternating days.

Pupil Support Services include guidance at each grade level, a school psychologist, and a social worker as well as special education programming. The school houses 3 computer labs, mobile computer stations and a state of the art media center available. The expectation is that each student will be capable of using technology productively as a learning tool.

School activities range from interscholastic teams in cross country, field hockey, baseball, softball, and basketball to intra-murals, and interest clubs. Bethel imposes a “pay-to-participate” fee for these programs. Opportunities for student volunteerism include Helping Others, Bridges, and Darfur club. Connecticut’s Governor honored the school in for its outstanding service projects. Student Council, Peer Mediation, and Renaissance provide students with leadership opportunities.

Parent newsletters are posted to the website monthly and as needed. Parent-teacher conferences are scheduled twice yearly and available upon request.

Mr. Bryan Watson is the principal. Mrs. Jennie Taranovich, and Mrs. Shannon Mariconda are the assistant principals. The office phone is 203-794-8670.

Bethel High School

Bethel High School is accredited through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Enrollment is approximately 1050 students. The following 24 Carnegie units of credit are required for graduation:

English - 4 years 
Social Studies – 3.5 years 
Mathematics - 3 years 
Science - 3 years 
Physical Education – 1 semester/yr 
Health Education - 1 semester 
Fine Arts- 1 semester 
Practical Arts - 3 semesters
Community Service 
Performance Tests (CAPT)

The Daily Schedule and Graduation Credits Bethel High School has a six-period daily schedule within an eight-day rotating cycle. Students can take up to eight courses per semester. Each period is 57 minutes. Students are required to carry a minimum of seven credits per year. A full-year course, which meets six out of eight days, carries one Carnegie unit. A full-year course, which includes a laboratory period in addition to the six class meetings, earns 1.2 Carnegie units and semester courses meeting six of eight days carry .5 Carnegie units.

The Culture of the School - Bethel High School is the home of the “Wildcats”. Students and teachers take great pride in the academic achievements of the school. The school functions in a businesslike climate with a minimum number of study halls available and a closed campus. The school offers 37 clubs and performance opportunities in choral and instrumental music as well as the dramatic arts. Art exhibits and the proximity to New York allow for a full exploration of all aspects of the arts. The school fields 33 athletic teams that compete in the rugged Southwest Athletic Conference. The Renaissance program is directed by students and provides a focus on student achievement. The Principal’s Advisory Council provides direct input to the administration on all matters regarding school governance. The PTSO supplements school programs. The school also has all of the traditional social functions, most of which are held off campus. School hours are 7:30 a.m. to 2:10 p.m. each day. Parent/teacher conferences are held in October and March and are available upon request. Juniors and seniors are granted parking privileges and are monitored by the School Resource Office.

The Media Center Services -The Media Center offers students access to print and Internet materials and computerized information about careers, colleges, graduate schools, financial aid, and the armed services. Students are expected to demonstrate mastery in using available resources.

Advanced Placement - College credit courses are offered in United States History, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, English, Spanish, French, Biology, Chemistry, Art, European History and Physics. Students enrolling for these courses are required to complete the May AP test.

Co-op College Coursework - University of Connecticut Co-op courses are offered in College History and French. Bethel High has a partnership with Western Connecticut State University that allows our students to complete coursework at the university at a significant discount in tuition.

Independent Study - Credit may be given for independent work in a subject not included in the curriculum or in an area that is an extension or enrichment of the curriculum. The student fulfills a contract and is supervised by a faculty advisor.

The Bethel High Honor Roll - An overall average of 93% or higher constitutes Distinguished Honors with no grade lower than an A. An overall average of 90% or higher constitutes High Honors with no grade lower than B-. Overall average of 85% or higher constitutes General Honors with no grade lower than C+.

Weighted Class Ranking - A weighted system of grading is used in calculating the class rank. Since courses differ in their levels of academic challenge, the weighted class rank provides an accurate representation of students' academic achievements. This weighted system does not affect honor roll calculations.

A student must complete at least two years at Bethel High School to receive a class rank. Students completing less than two years at Bethel High School at the time of graduation will receive an approximate class rank and a written description of their achievements during their time at BHS. This information will be forwarded upon request to any specific college or university. A student's class rank will be calculated after the completion of his/her sophomore year, junior year, and senior year.

Levels of Academic Challenge - In calculating the class rank, all courses except those taken on a pass/fail basis are assigned one of the following levels. The second digit of a course number indicates the level.

Level 1 - Advanced Placement, honors, or college co-op courses. 
Level 2 - Courses, which involve a high selectivity of students, difficulty of material, and/or a high level of expectation and time commitment.
Level 3 - The majority of courses having an average level of rigor and selectivity. 
Level 4 - Remedial coursework.

Graduates Attend these Universities: Adelphi University, Arizona State University, Art Institute of Philadelphia, Bentley College, Berklee College of Music, Boston University, Castleton State University, Cazenovia College, Central Connecticut State University, College of the Holy Cross, Dartmouth College, Eastern Connecticut State University, Elizabethtown College, Emory University, Fairfield University, Furman University, George Washington University, Gibbs College, Hofstra University, Iona College, James Madison University, Johnson & Wales University, Lee University, Liberty University, Lynchburg College, Manhattanville College, Marist College, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, Merrimack College, Mount St. Mary College, Mt. Ida College, New York University, Ohio Valley College, Pace University, Penn State, Quinnipiac University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Roger Williams University, Sacred Heart University, Salve Regina University, Siena College, Southern Connecticut State University, Southern New Hampshire University, St. John’s University, St. Michael’s College, Stonehill College, Temple University, University of California at Berkeley, University of Central Florida, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Connecticut, University of Delaware, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, University of Miami, University of New Hampshire, University of New Haven, University of Notre Dame, University of St. Thomas, University of Utah, University of Vermont, University of Rhode Island, Villanova University, Virginia Tech, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Western Connecticut State University, Western New England College, Naugatuck Valley Community Technical College, Pasco-Hernando Community College, Wyoming Tech, American Academy of Cosmetology, United Technical Institute.

Typical Class Profile

Attending four-year colleges: 85% 
Attending two-year colleges: 3.1% 
Attending Technical Schools: 1.5% 
Entering military services: 3.1% 
Entering the work force: 2 % 
Undecided: 5.2 %

Typical SAT Profile

Graduates taking examination: 97.4% 
Average SAT scores for those attending four-year colleges: Verbal Math Total 531 532 1063

National Merit Scholars – Each year BHS has National Merit scholars and commended students. The administration requests that all sophomores take the PSAT, which is the qualifying test for the scholarships.

Scholarships - Graduating classes annually earn over $1 million is scholarships and grants from universities and local organizations. Approximately 20% of the class earned financial assistance upon graduation.

Guidance Counselors - Office hours are 7:05 a.m. to 2:05 p.m. The office phone is (203) 794-8630. Fax phone is (203) 794-8618. The business address is: Bethel High School, 300 Whittlesey Drive, Bethel, CT 06801

Bethel High Administration - The School’s Principal is Mr. Christopher Troetti, (203-794-8600 x 403). Mr. Gary Lawlor (203-794-8600 x 401) and Ms. Mari Lerz (203-794-8600 x 402) are the assistant principals. There are 89 full-time and part-time faculty members. The majority have Master's degrees or the equivalent. Approximately one-third of the faculty has a Sixth Year Diploma.

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Academic Benchmarks

Benchmark is a word we use to identify target skills upon which we seek to focus in a particular year. In the Bethel Public Schools, benchmarks help us to identify knowledge, skills, and strategies that we expect students to learn, know, and be able to do. All students can develop the knowledge, skills, and strategies described in the benchmarks. Different students will achieve varying degrees of depth and breadth of understanding.

Reading Instruction - The ability to read and write effectively is the foundation of instruction in the Bethel Public Schools. “Readers’ Workshop” is the primary tool used at the elementary level to deliver a comprehensive program that develops competent readers. This special block of the day focuses on teaching students those comprehension and thinking strategies that are used by proficient readers. Children read for extended periods across many genres in books that are “just right” for their interest and ability level. They respond to literature in writing and discuss the text they read in pairs and book clubs. Teachers use whole class direct instruction, guided reading, and individual conferences with students, and small group work to deliver their instruction and assess their students. This strategy involves students in their reading and tends to make reading an enjoyable hobby for many students. Our elementary children read more books annually than other children in Connecticut. At the middle and high school level, a prescribed core-reading list introduces students to classics. Advanced Placement opportunities are available in English.

Writing Instruction - At the elementary and middle school level, students are involved in “Writers’ Workshop”. For the youngest writers, the classroom is a safe place to write on a regular basis, to discuss thinking with classmates and teacher, learn to be mindful writers and discover the techniques used by great writers by looking at text through the eye and mind of a writer. This block of instructional time focuses on teaching students those thinking strategies that are used by proficient writers. Children write for extended periods of time across many genres, receive instruction dissecting the process of writing, and prepare pieces for publication. At the high school level writing is also done and assessed across the curriculum.

Mathematics Instruction - The mathematics curriculum is based upon the belief that students will demonstrate mastery of fundamental and then complex mathematical concepts. The program requires that students learn more mathematics at younger ages. In kindergarten, students count, read, and write numbers, but they also learn geometric concepts, to weigh and measure objects, tell time, learn the names and value of money, make simple graphs, and combine, extend and reproduce patterns. These concrete experiences lead to symbolic representation and communication of numerical, geometric, algebraic, and statistical ideas orally and in written form using paper and pencil, a variety of calculator displays, spreadsheets, graphing packages, word processing, and other related computer software. The curriculum spirals through each grade, building basic skills and providing students with the ability to use their mathematical skills to engage in complex problem solving. At the elementary level, accelerated students can take classes in upper grades or use an on-line distance-learning course provided by Stanford University. Many middle school students start Algebra in the 7th or 8th grade. At Bethel High School, students follow a traditional math course sequence of algebra, geometry, algebra II, college algebra, and calculus. Each is taught at different levels to accommodate student abilities. Advanced Placement opportunities are available in calculus and statistics. Other electives include trigonometry, applied mathematics, and SAT Prep.

Science Instruction - The curriculum is based upon the philosophy that each student should engage intelligently in public discourse and debate about important issues that involve science and technology, therefore achieving eventual scientific literacy. Students will demonstrate mastery of the skills of observing, inferring, experimenting, constructing hypotheses, testing those explanations against current scientific knowledge, and communicating their ideas to others. At the elementary level, children experience the excitement of exploring the natural world. They record seasonal changes, observe the life cycle; explain differences between plant and animal cells; study the relationships in ecosystems; record data on plant development; study how simple machines work using Newton’s laws of motion; study constellations, earth’s rotation, and force of gravity; study the functions of the human body systems; learn about light, sound, and weather and how to use the tools and vocabulary of science, i.e., microscopes, scales, computers, weather instruments, and the metric system. They learn to keep science journals and write lab reports. Middle School curriculum builds on the foundation of elementary science instruction, and focuses on specific areas of science at each grade level. Middle School grade 6 focuses on physical science, grade 7 on life science, and grade 8 on earth and space science. The science sequence at the high school begins with physical science in grade nine, followed by biology in grade 10, with chemistry and physics in grade 11 and 12. AP courses are offered in biology, chemistry and physics. Environmental Science is also part of the curriculum. Courses are supported by new textbooks and computer-based labs.

Social Studies - At the earliest grades, students are introduced to the history of the local community and state as well as families in other cultures. By the 4th and 5th grade, the emphasis shifts to an in-depth review of American History. At the middle and high schools, students learn the principles of democracy, historiography, geography, and research. Sixth graders study ancient history and seventh graders learn about Canada and Mexico. At the high school a variety of electives engage the students’ interests. Advanced Placement opportunities are available in eleven courses of study.

Technology Applications - Due to a rolling innovative lease program, the Bethel children use state of the art technology as learning tools. At the earliest grades, students receive regular instruction to master the keyboard and maneuver through a variety of applications. As students become more sophisticated, they are expected to use the technology to research and enhance their presentation skills. The use of the Internet is supervised. The district also makes use of television production capability and has access to Channel 22 for airing of school related events. Students work with faculty to create production teams.

Fine Arts Performance Opportunities - Beginning in the earliest grades, children experience art and music instruction and performance opportunities on a very regular basis. The art program is discipline-based and provides students with an opportunity to explore in a variety of mediums. Musically, students have a choral and general music experience at each grade in the elementary schools. Students are introduced to the recorder in K-3. Also, Berry and Rockwell begin stringed instrument instruction in the 3rd grade while Johnson starts band instrument instruction in the 4th grade. Students have art exhibits and concerts several times annually. At the middle and high school levels choral and instrumental instruction becomes more specialized. Several audition groups exist at each level. Johnson, middle and high schools have marching bands and each has groups that travel to perform in the region. Advanced Placement opportunities are available in Art.

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Special Education Services

It is our philosophy to provide programs for students with complex needs in the district rather than through outplacement. We provide staff with specialized expertise and flex our programs as students move through the district. We believe in maximizing the opportunities for students to remain in the regular classroom through the use of collaborative teaching and paraprofessional support. Long-range planning and clear communication are the anchors of all programming.

Circle of Friends - This program provides services to children, ages 3-5, with disabilities or developmental delays and their typically developing peers. Children attend 2, 4, or 4.5 days depending on their educational needs. Sessions are 2.5 hours and Circle is housed at Berry School. ABA Program for Autism or Pervasive Developmental Disabilities Children in grades K-3 who have a diagnosis of autism or PDD instruction using discrete trial and other specialized formats are integrated into regular education for varying amounts of time. This program is housed at Berry School.

Learning Centers - This term is applied to K-8 programs that serve students with more complex or severe disabilities. Children with neurological, physical or sensory needs are served through this program. It is therapy-based, integrating speech, language, occupational and physical therapy. All children spend varying amounts of the day with typically developing peers in regular classrooms. The program is data based, meaning that each child’s curriculum is individualized.

Resource Programs - This program flexes according to student needs at the K-5 level. These are semi-self contained environments where the students receive most of their academic instruction from a special education teacher in either a designated special education or regular classroom.

Collaborative Classes - In this model, students receive special education within the classroom in a co-teaching or collaborative arrangement with the regular education teacher. This model is employed in grades 4-12. It maximizes the student’s involvement in the regular education classroom and curriculum.

Special Education Courses - This is one strategy used at the high school, which follows the format of the typical day. Vocational skills, writing labs, and structured study are examples of this tactic.

STEP: Steps Toward Educational Progress - This is a high school program for students with serious emotional disturbance. Five-class periods are provided each day. Additionally, a “transitions” course prepares students for post secondary education or employment. Therapeutic support is provided by a social worker.

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