On May 26, 2021

Pump track built at Allen Street Campus

By Peg Bolgioni

Scott Corbett, director of the Allen Street Campus, has a phrase he often tells his students, “We are exploring and providing access to your backyard.” His philosophy is finding what engages a child and connect them with it, then the learning part is easy. 

Located directly across from Rutland Regional Medical Center, it is an extension of Rutland Middle School and Rutland High School, offering non-traditional programs that serve approximately 25 students in grades 5-12. 

Courtesy Scott Corbett
Allen Street Campus student Isaac Kline rides on the newly opened mountain bike pump track, practicing skills.

The Allen Street Campus is a place bursting with activity and positivity. Students ride bikes on a brand-new ASC pump track, cultivate plants, and prepare food in their state-of-the-art commercial kitchen. 

“Ellie McGarry, former director of student services, had a vision for a program to help kids that needed an alternative to the traditional classroom learning experience,” said Pam Reed, director of student services, equity and inclusion for Rutland City Public Schools. “We wanted to find out the best way to not only integrate academics into activities that sparked interest for the students, but also build on the social-emotional pieces like resilience and problem-solving skills. We wanted to make certain that children in Rutland City had access to these types of programs in order to flourish, find out who they are, and make good choices.”

Corbett maintains that the secret to their success is actually listening to what the students want. It begins as an idea, takes shape, and becomes an actual project. “When the students came to me and wanted to build a pump track it became about providing a physical and emotional outlet for them during the school day. They wanted to develop their skills so they could ride on other bike trails and parks. It’s all about providing access not just for them, but to open it up to the entire community,” he said.

Tuesday, June 15 at 11 a.m. will be the official opening of the track, which will be open to the public when school isn’t in session, Corbett said.

At the Allen Street Campus four teachers, four counselors, and a group of paraeducators work directly with the students. Corbett credits his team for fostering an experiential learning environment that combines academics with the student’s own unique interests like gardening, biking or hiking to acquire skills like composting, creating plot plans, how to grow organic produce and be able to sell it to the community. 

“All of my team is hands on with the kids whether it’s in the classroom, skiing, or in the fields,” explained Corbett.

School Resource Officer Ernest LaGuardia spends time on the Allen Street Campus. He understands how important it is to be role model for the students. “Police Chief Kilcullen and I play basketball with the kids on Fridays. I help them with their academics, even cooking. What’s most important to me is to be a sounding board for them when they just want to talk.” 

Building a sense of community and collaboration is part of Allen Street Campus’ greater vision. Although it has received funding for projects through grants, many local businesses and organizations have contributed both monetarily and in-kind. 

“We are so grateful to those folks who have helped make our pump track and gardens possible. Among those I wish to thank are the Vermont Principal’s Association, Gagnon Lumber, 802 Quits, OVX/VKAT, Fabian Earth Moving, Carpenter & Costin, The Powder Horn Trail Company, and Rutland South Rotary Club,” said Corbett. 

Patrick Miner, 18, “loves the pump track and knows it will benefit not just the school but the entire community.” 

Isaac Kline, 12, is “very happy at Allen Street. We do lots of fun things together like skiing and hiking. The best part is that it makes me feel like I’m part of a family.” 

Aurora Campbell, 15, put it in these words, “When I went to high school last year, I didn’t have much confidence in myself. The people at Allen Street gave me that confidence, pushed me, and helped me become a young adult. I really thank them for who I am today.” 

Every year the school puts together yearly goals to work towards. This past year it was reducing discipline and building connections. Disciplinary incidents were reduced an astounding 70% and solid and sustainable connections with each other and the greater Rutland community are evident at every turn. The pump track will add and sustain both missions for years to come. 

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