Click photo to enlarge
Peyton Eisler, a senior at Brattleboro Union High School, is pursuing many of her studies at the Windham Regional Career Center, including coursework in Chinese, screenwriting, criminology, and dance. Her primary focus has been in the field of medicine.

BRATTLEBORO >> Peyton Eisler is clearly someone who knows how to make the most of her time.

It's impressive how much this not quite 18-year-old Wilmington resident has managed over the past couple of years. She recently joined Windham Southeast Regional School Union superintendent Dr. Ron Stahley, along with the director of the Windham Regional Collegiate High School, Tom Yahn, as co-presenters at the annual conference of the Vermont School Boards and Superintendents Associations. Their workshop was intended to help other Vermont school districts develop dual enrollment programs similar to the Windham Regional Career Center model, which currently offers over 40 college credit bearing courses at Brattleboro Union High School and the WRCC.

Stahley shared that Eisler was an impressive workshop presenter.

"Peyton did a great job talking to the Superintendents Association and School Board members about her interest in taking dual credit courses related to her interests in medical services. She gave an excellent personal account of her interests and how the coursework and internship have advanced her college and career goals."

Eisler also participated in a showcase at the end of that conference, offering her views on school improvement.

Yahn said that attendee interest was high for that presentation, with a number of questions directed to her regarding her interest in pursuing forensic nursing as a career path. He shared that he's very impressed with


Eisler and that he really enjoyed the discussions he's had with her.

"She has a kind of natural enthusiasm about pursuing her career goals, and learning in general, which combines self-confidence along with a desire to be of service, and a curiosity about the world around her that will serve her well no matter what path she ends up traveling in the future."

As a senior at Brattleboro Union High School, Eisler is pursuing many of her studies at the Windham Regional Career Center. Her interests are many, including coursework in Chinese, screenwriting, criminology, and dance, but her primary focus has been in the field of medicine, and to this end, the WRCC has served her well. There she has taken Medical Human Services, Principles of Biomedical Science, and Medical Terminology, and she is registered to take Human Body Systems this spring. She's also currently involved in a cooperative education work experience at the Pine Heights Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Brattleboro.

If all that weren't enough, Eisler serves as the student representative for the Windham County Educators Workforce Committee, facilitated by the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation. This group, with representation from schools throughout Windham County, is tasked with developing and enhancing working relationships with schools and local businesses to expand learning and work experience opportunities for area students. The impetus for this committee has been the implementation of Vermont Act 77, the Flexible Pathways Initiative, signed into law by Governor Shumlin in 2013. This bill calls for an increase in student access to work-based learning opportunities and to Career and Technical Education courses, as are offered at the WRCC, as well as an expansion of dual enrollment programs statewide. The hope, too, is that students will be encouraged to settle in this area as working adults, in part due to the business connections and awareness of career opportunities that they gain while in high school.

Eisler has been an active and thoughtful participant on BDCC's workforce committee, while gaining personally from the experience. She relates, "I do enjoy giving my opinion on the workforce committee because it makes me feel like I am doing something that would hopefully stay with the people who listen to me. This has also benefited me because I am the worst when it comes to talking in front of people because I freak myself right before ... I have learned that there are many different opportunities for students being discussed and I believe we need (more) students to hear their ideas to get even more opinions."

She goes on to add, "My idea for better schools is to give students the chance to study what they want to study."

Say if you have a student who wants to go into farming or automotive, and yet they are limited in the amount of exposure to these courses at the high school level because of the required classes they need to take. I think there should be plans set up for students that know they want to follow a certain path that they have to take certain classes and work experiences that relate to their field of interest, while still having some of the same classes in all paths in case the student wants to switch. Students will be able to experience more of what interests them. I think students should definitely take advantage of the coops (cooperative education) because they can really help solidify your choice for the future."

Alex Beck, the Workforce and Education Specialist at the BDCC, has appreciated Eisler's input at these meetings.

"She is a great addition to the group. She has shared her viewpoints at least once per meeting, which have proven to be invaluable. She is representative of highly engaged, career-oriented students. She has a pretty clear idea about what she wants to do professionally and has already interned in her field of interest. Her ability to challenge the group about the assumptions we make about her peers is truly important to ensuring the programs work for every student."

Beck goes on to discuss the importance of this group's work. "The state of Vermont has the second oldest population in the United States, and Windham County is the "oldest" county in the state. ... To make matters worse, fewer and fewer young Vermonters are aware of the Vermont businesses in desperate need of workers, and young people leave the state to find work elsewhere. Culturally, this migration of young people out of Vermont is negatively affecting the vibrancy of our downtowns. With fewer young people engaged in the community and economy, the services and goods young people desire are having a harder time succeeding. It really is a chicken or the egg kind of problem, because once businesses like music venues and mid-range eateries whose target market are 20 to 30 year olds, disappear, that younger demographic that has remained in Vermont have fewer reasons to stay. By attracting and retaining young people in our communities, we can engage an entire generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, and community leaders. We can redevelop and reinvest in what our children value as necessary to their quality of life without sacrificing the quaint "Vermont-ness" we all know we love. We can provide great workers for great, local jobs, and make sure everyone who loves Vermont has an opportunity to stay and thrive here."

Eisler plans to attend college in the fall.

"My plans after high school are to attend a school to receive a bachelor's degree in nursing. I hope to then do traveling nursing for two years as I work toward my master's degree in forensic nursing online. Hopefully, then I'll return to the United States and work for a while and possibly travel more and finish one of the novels I've been working on."

Her co-op experience has indeed helped her formulate these decisions. She shares, " I have been given the chance to do a coop at a nursing home and was able to experience a scenario that really helped solidify my decision regarding forensic nursing. I had to witness a patient come close to passing and it weighed a lot on me. It made me realize I want to help people find answers as to why something happened versus caring for a patient to the end of the line. This is also because of events in my family that happened during my freshman year."

We're hoping that Peyton, along with lots of her peers, will decide to reside and pursue her career goals close to home after she's completed her schooling.

Paul Cohen is the co-op coordinator for the Windham Regional Career Center. He can be contacted at