Yay! School's out, and that's always a good thing. But today was also an emotional last day at Champlain Elementary School in Burlington, VT, where my kids have gone for the last five years. Today was the last day for the visionary school leader, principal Nancy Zahniser, who will be retiring after many years as a teacher and administrator.

Waiting for ms z
Parents and students at Champlain Elementary wait for the final bell to ring to say goodbye to Ms. Z.

Robert resnick

Local celebrity musician/radio host/librarian and alumni dad Robert Resnick came to seranade the crowd and Ms. Z with his accordian in a rousing version of a school favorite, The Chicken Dance . And trust me, you are very sorry that you never got to do this dance with Tammy Charbenau and Ms. Z leading it.

Champlain Elementary is always a joyous place. The wonderful, inspired teachers stay year after year, the halls ring with laughter and the kids enjoy learning. What makes a great school? Great leadership. And that we had.

Ms Z
Nancy Zahniser on the right,  greeting the crowd  with a typically enthusiastic gesture. On the left, beloved teachers Tammy Charbeneau and Coleen Cowell.

Ms. Z is the principal who knows every kid's name, who is out on the steps to greet each child and parent every morning with inspired music mix cds which she makes and then and plays on the steps of the school so the kids can dance - and you should see some of the inspired line dances the kids do on that makeshift step/stage.  Even the kids who play 4 Square or chat while waiting for the school bell  are enfolded into a  rhythm for the day.

Ms. Z  lead her faculty and administration into creating an environment where education flourishes. I don't usually wax enthusiastic about our educational system. (Don't even get me started talking about Edmunds Middle school.)  So it is with great and rare pleasure that I can say these wonderful things about Ms. Z and Champlain Elementary.

Click here to see a news clip from local channel WCAX TV about a Burlington history project that the fourth / fifth grades did this year.

Goodbye ms z
Everyone gathers around at the top of the steps for a final hug.

So thank you Ms. Z. We love you.