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 Cannondale bicycles, Chocolate Lace, and Duracell batteries, 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. The Bethel Cinema, a renowned venue for offbeat and arts films, is a Fairfield County landmark. 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
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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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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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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. Mrs. Teri Yonsky serves as
the Director of Fiscal Services. 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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According to Connecticut law, your
child must be five years old on or before January 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/Procedures to register a new student.
A birth certificate, proof of residency, and immunization records are required for registration.
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Frank A. Berry and Anna H. Rockwell Schools
Frank A. Berry and Anna H. Rockwell
Schools house Kindergarten through Grade 3 programs. Additionally, Berry
School houses the Circle of Friends pre-school program. Kindergartners
must be 5 years of age by January 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 3:25 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 7/1. Stringed instrument
instruction is an elective beginning in the 3rd grade. 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 third grade class sizes average 19 – 22 students per
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. Danielle Legnard (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 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 8:10 a.m. and dismissal is at
2:40 p.m. Students ride buses with middle school children.
The educational program is built upon
the expectations developed in grade three. 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 5/1.
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
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. Derek Muharem is the principal.
Ms. Pamela Chapman and Mr. Bryan Watson 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
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 7:25 a.m. to 2:05 p.m. each day. Parent/teacher conferences
are held in September, February, and May 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
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
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.
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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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.p>
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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
- 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
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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