FLETCHER — With a passion for the deep heart of Vermont and a conviction in her stride, incoming Fletcher Elementary School principal Aimee Toth aims to take the small rural town’s elementary school to new heights and carve a brave new story.
“The school is the heart of the community ... it’s a gathering place,” said Toth, who was announced as the school’s new principal on Wednesday. “And I was looking for a place that had done substantive work in social emotional learning, having that community support is important.”
Toth will replace outgoing principal Chris Dodge, who will be moving on to Swanton Elementary School, where he will be replacing longtime principal Dena St. Amour, bringing with him a similar passion for the outdoors, for art, creation and for taking on new challenges.
“I love any opportunity to connect with my creativity and desire to express myself,” Dodge said. “I love getting my hands dirty.”
Currently a literacy coach and interim curriculum coordinator for the White River Valley Supervisory Union in South Royalton, the Ohio native said that after years of serving in school districts throughout the country, it was the lifestyle, archetype and beauty of Vermont that possessed her and her family.
So much so that they moved to the Green Mountain State in 2007 to live full-time. She brings 12 years of experience in the classroom and two years as a principal to her new position.
“I fell in love with small rural schools,” Toth said. “And I found being a principal really gives you the opportunity to serve in a community.”
Toth said that as an educator, a leader and a designer of curriculum, she came to understand and deeply appreciate the value of both proficiency-based education and the importance of social-emotional learning.
In a time when educators and administrators everywhere are working to rapidly adapt to new parameters and needs brought forth by the challenges of a global pandemic, Toth said she thought the future of education looked bright, especially for small rural schools where communities could bond together and share resources.
“I’m terribly optimistic that our kids are going to be fine,” Toth said. “As long as we have caring teachers with expertise ... my hope is in the resilience of students when they receive responsive teaching.”
Toth brings with her a national board certification as an educator and a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Plymouth State University. She also brings a passion for homesteading, painting and canning, keeping her own chickens, and an extremely spoiled chocolate lab named Lincoln.
“I want to co-create this team with the teachers (that are there),” Toth said. “I hope to build a really strong team ... I have always been very driven by the democratic mission of public schools, and serving all kids. It’s what I find very fulfilling.”