PLL stands on the shoulders of several remarkable individuals. Vermont Reads Institute was conceived in 2000 by Marc Hull, then Vermont Commissioner of Education working closely with Sue Biggam, Vermont literacy consultant. For the first several years, VRI was housed at Vermont Institutes and directed by Pat Halloran, although staff worked under a grant to UVM. At that time, it coordinated the Reading Excellence Act grant and, subsequently, the Vermont Reading First Grant. In 2004, the Institutes were restructured, and Vermont Reads found a home at UVM in the College of Education and Social Services, with Dr. Marjorie Lipson overseeing the enterprise from a research and development perspective. VRI at UVM served dozens of Vermont schools/districts and principals, thousands of teachers through courses and conferences, and collaborated with the state to develop and support the most effective policy and practice for students in grades K-12.
The lessons learned from almost 20 years of research and practice have resulted in a book, monographs, research presentations, professional development materials and tools used by all educators in the state. The work has been grounded in the principles and standards of high quality professional learning, coaching, leadership development, and school improvement. Although the projects of PLL are guided by empirical evidence and ongoing data collection, the focus of PLL is to share the lessons learned over the past 20 years with classroom teachers, district leaders, and policymakers. When PLL opened its doors in 2017, it was built on the solid foundation of VRI at UVM. PLL has the most robust basis for helping schools and districts strengthen their practice to improve student outcomes for all students. As a nonprofit, we can focus on the mission of helping professionals solve the problems they face by employing an action-oriented focus designed to help schools “get better.”