Bonnie Birdsall, Champlain Valley School District
The CVSD Board of Directors is thrilled to announce that Mr. Rene Sanchez has accepted our offer to become the next superintendent of the Champlain Valley School District. “This is an amazing time for our district,” said Board Chair Angela Arsenault. “We’ve been expertly led by Superintendent Elaine Pinckney for the past 15 years, and we’re poised to benefit from both the deep respect Mr. Sanchez has expressed for CVSD, as well as the fresh perspective he’ll bring to our schools and systems.” He will begin on July 1, 2021.
“As a lifelong learner, I’m excited to become the educational leader for Vermont’s largest district and to work with families and communities and businesses to make sure we’re in a place where we can help all students achieve,” Mr. Sanchez said upon his acceptance.
Rene comes to the district from South Bend, Indiana, where he is the Assistant Superintendent for Operations. In this role, he directs the human resources and transportation departments for a district with more than 16,000 students and a total budget of over $173 million. “My focus was providing training for new teachers in equity, literacy and Universal Design for Learning,” he said. He also led the district’s successful cross-functional COVID-19 response team. “Inspiring innovation and empowering our district’s potential was the goal in Indiana.”
Rene has a proven commitment to equity. One example is the creative solution he spearheaded to address the digital divide. Even before the pandemic, he led an effort to equip a group of school buses with Wi-Fi so students with long commutes or late-night rides following sports and other extracurricular activities can complete schoolwork during their trip. This positioned the district to respond quickly to the connectivity challenges of remote learning during the past year. All district buses (over 200 in total!) became roving Wi-Fi providers, traveling to students in need to deliver both internet service and food. These communication hubs remain parked in designated neighborhoods throughout the school day.
We asked what drew him to the Champlain Valley School District. “I’m intrigued by board and district initiatives supporting diversity, equity and inclusion. I’m excited about CVSD’s focus on personalized learning, proficiency-based learning, multi-tiered systems of support, and social-emotional learning. Knowing that we’re looking after every student and meeting them where they are is an educational philosophy that I share,” he said. “I welcome the opportunity to help the five towns grow together post-consolidation and become a stronger unified district.”
“My strength is designing from the beginning so that we reach all students—even those in the margins. My style complements CVSD’s existing approach ensuring that all students can successfully transition from elementary to middle school to high school and then on to college or career or whatever their pursuit of happiness is.”
On a personal note, Rene’s wife, Jean, is originally from Vermont and a UVM graduate. They have three children and three dogs. Rene loves to cycle, cook, read, fish, golf and work in the garden. “We’re happy that our children are going to grow up in Jean’s home state. We are thrilled to be closer to family and many of Jean’s college friends, who still live in the area.”
We welcome Rene and his family to the district and look forward to welcoming them to Vermont later in the year.