BFA Fairfax Celebrates its 4th Chinese Cultural Exchange Camp

Target 4 – Engaged Community Partners. FWSU staff and students will collaborate, innovate, create and conceptualize ideas and learning with local, regional, state, and global partners to make a difference in their community, state, and world.

Action Step – Develop partnerships with global partners to carry out a project related to units of study.

Indicator of Success - Collaborative student projects/partnerships become part of the fabric of the broader community.

photo 2 (1)For the fourth consecutive year, BFA Fairfax High School is hosting students from China in a two-week long cultural and language exchange program. The students are brought to Vermont by SPIRAL International for a 3-week intensive English Language immersion program. FWSU-area host families are welcoming the visiting students into their homes, which undoubtedly enriches their experience in the our country. The group has already spent time in Washington DC, New York, Philadelphia, and will be visiting Boston before they fly home. BFA educators Sara Villeneuve and Emily Cogan are serving as co-coordinators and co-lead teachers roles for this project.

photo 3Student leadership is an essential component of the BFA program. High School students serve as mentors to their Chinese friends throughout the exchange. It is a great experience for our students with lasting benefits. Past mentors have shared how important this connection was to them as learners and some have even kept in touch with the visiting Chinese students.

photo 1Cultural understanding is another pivotal piece of the exchange. Schools throughout FWSU have been promoting the concept of Intercultural Competence. Programs such as BFA’s Cultural Summer Exchange aids students in communicating with one another in Fairfax, even though they have different cultures and languages. The program provides an environment that enables students to share subject matters and to also socialize. As pictured above, our students do have a lot in common.

photo 5This year the program features a technology-rich environment to mirror how students at BFA, and our guests, learn. Mrs. Villeneuve created the curriculum using iBooks which is freely accessible to both students and mentors through iPads or individual handheld devices.

photo 1 (1)Friendship and colleagueship is certainly a huge part of the exchange each summer. We are proud of our students, families and teachers who are working hard to create memories that will last a lifetime.

FES Teachers Form Think Tank to Wrap Up School Year

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As the school year comes to a close and students begin summer vacation, teachers are still working hard. FES teachers formed a Think Tank happening during the June 17 and 18th inservice days.

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The first day focused on working together in teams to create curriculum maps, grade-level curriculum calendars, and a parent curriculum overview which will be shared with families at a grade level meeting during the first weeks of school.

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Julie Steves facilitated the curriculum work. Teachers were excited to have time to work in teams with literacy/math coaches, guidance counselor, music educator, and librarian all at the table.

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“This has been a super successful day. All teams enjoyed coming together at the end to report out on their work.” – FES Principal Bonnie Poe



BFA Ends – Have a Great Summer

“What a year for our students! That was great.” – Principal Mike Clark

photo 5BFA finished the 2013/14 school year today and students were more than ready to begin summer vacation. This group of 4th graders celebrated with a quick popsicle party before boarding the busses for the last time this year.

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Carol, Geri, and Sally were happy for our students and all of their accomplishments this school year.

photo 4 (2)School for our students is a personal experience. New classes, new adventures, new friends and new teachers await. But it is also important to say goodbye to the connections made this school year.

photo 3 (2)“The year goes fast and the end always sneaks up on us!” – Principal Tom Walsh.

Have a great summer Fairfax!

GEMS Ends – Have A Great Summer

“I feel like the first day of the year was yesterday.” – Principal Calano

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“It is bittersweet – it was such a great year.” – Emily Beaudion

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“I can’t believe its summer” – GEMS Student

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The halls are already 3 (1)

Although summer vacation is upon us, the GEMS office is already getting ready for next year!

photo 4 (1)Thanks for a great year of teaching and learning at GEMS. Have a great summer everyone!



FWSU Receives Grant From Bay and Paul Foundation For Global Student Engagement

Target 2 – Leadership in a Student Centered Learning Environment
FWSU will foster development of teacher & student leaders who provide innovative opportunities for local and global student-centered learning.

Action Step – Provide multiple avenues for students and staff to lead,
advocate, and serve within the school and community

Indicator of SuccessCreativity and risk-taking will be evident and celebrated as learners embrace new technologies.


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We are excited to announce the Bay and Paul Foundation has granted FWSU $17,000 to continue its work engaging our students with other students from around the world. This grant allows all of our schools to continue work that has been occurring for the last two years. For example, this year students in grades 3 – 8 at GEMS and BFA collaborated with classrooms in South Korea and Mexico. The learning experiences for our student working with our partner classrooms has broadened their knowledge and understanding of other cultures and other’s notions of citizenship.

Our goal for next year, with generous grant, is to expand the program to more grades next year as well as building our capacity of working with additional countries in Africa and Asia.  In addition, the grant will support an opportunity for a team of FWSU early educators to study and visit Italian preschools, establishing partnerships with the Reggio Emilia teachers and students.

2014-06-09 08.11.43The Bay and Paul Foundation is an independent private foundation located in New York City. The Foundation’s education grants are for School Change and support a variety of efforts to empower students and teachers by promoting the practice of democracy in schools, encouraging student voice, advancing an ethic of environmental stewardship, and integrating academic course work with meaningful community service.


The Bay Paul Foundation recognized the FWSU Action Plan was aligned with its core mission related to school change, personalized learning, and student voice. It also recognized FWSU leadership in Vermont incorporating technology into our teaching and learning in all of our schools. We are excited to continue work offering students opportunities to be leaders not only in Georgia, Fairfax, Fletcher and Vermont, but also to use those skills to lead globally.


A Poet in Residence at GEMS

Target 1 Student Centered Learning - FWSU students will engage in personalize learning involving collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creative learning opportunities.

Action Step -  Highlight, create and model innovative learning opportunities that promote collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creativity for students

Indicator of Success - Students and staff will apply existing knowledge to create original works as a means of personal or group expression.

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words  — Robert Frost
Recently, elementary students in grades K-2 , at Georgia Elementary school, had the wonderful opportunity of working with children’s author, poet, and writing teacher Amy Ludwig-VanDerwater.
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During her two-day artist in residency she worked extensively with students, teachers , and parents exhibiting the love of reading and writing.  But most importantly she shared the love of writing poetry and the love of creativity.
Amy was able to excite every student with her passion and love of poetry and ALL students created wonderful pieces that were shared with their peers. In addition to her classroom visits,she also worked exclusively with teachers providing valuable resources and methodologies that can be implemented in helping the reluctant writer get excited!  To conclude her day, she met with parents and shared healthy reading/writing habits and explained a variety of strategies to nourish young writers.
To conclude her day, she met with parents and shared healthy reading/writing habits and explained a variety of strategies to nourish young writers. Students are still writing poetry and expressing themselves which was the primary goal of the residency.

BFA Driver Educator John Viau Receives Award for Excellence

Target 1 – Student-Centered Learning. FWSU students will engage in personalize learning involving collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creative learning opportunities.

Action Step – Highlight, create and model innovative learning opportunities that promote collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creativity for students and staff.

Indicator of Success – Students and staff will apply existing knowledge to create original works as a means of personal or group expression.


BFA Driver Education Teacher John Viau was recognized as Vermont Driver Education Teacher of the Year, and he has been nominated for national recognition by the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association (ADTSEA) for his innovative teaching strategies.    John was chosen to showcase his effective use of digital tools, especially his innovative use of  instructional tools in the car that enhance young driver’s knowledge and skills in driver and traffic safety education.  The theme of this year’s National ADTSEA conference is Strategic Planning: Driver Education in the Digital Age, and John Viau has much to add to the conversation.

In the car 2CoachEyeAppAt BFA, students routinely mount their iPad over their right shoulder when they enter the car for driving practice.  John uses the iPad with the Coach’s Eye App to gather evidence and data so that students can analyze their driving skills once they are back in the classroom. Students can then share their own personal driving videos, reflect on their experiences behind the wheel, and practice with their parents.  Students use this digital tool to do analysis and self-assessment of their driving as a regular part of their instruction.


Students also work in groups to create PSA’s to raise awareness about safety issues such as drugged driving, animal hazards, and text driving. Groups of students are charged with creating powerful messages for the community using  podcasts, movie trailers, and presentation software.   They act as responsible citizens, educating their community on safety issues as part of their driver education experience.



John’s work with local law enforcement provides in-class instruction and simulations for students, and it also emphasizes their responsibility as responsible citizens,  a key outcome for all BFA students.

Alcohol Simulation

Congratulations to BFA’s Driver Education Teacher John Viau and BFA students for their innovative practice and their willingness to harness the power of technology to promote traffic safety within our school and community. The world is watching!


BFA Teacher John Viau recognized for excellence.


“Two aspects of John Viau’s practice  were recognized in his selection as Vermont’s Driver Education Teacher of the Year-  John’s alignment of his program with FWSU’s Action Plan and mission statement, and his extensive use of technology in his program.  John is also recognized by others for his leadership and the individual interest he takes in each of his students.”     Lindsay Townsend, VDTSEA Exec Director

GEMS and BFA Celebrate Global Learning with IVECA

Target 4 – Engaged Community Partners
FWSU staff and students will collaborate, innovate, create and conceptualize ideas and learning with local, regional, state, and global partners to make
a difference in their community, state, and world.

Action Step - Develop partnerships with global partners to
carry out a project related to units of study

Indicator of Success - Collaborative student projects/partnerships become part of the fabric of the broader community.


Once again students from both Georgia Elementary School and BFA Middle School engaged the broader global community to enhance their understanding of intercultural competence. This semester eight classrooms of students interacted and learned alongside students from Mexico and South Korea. The students interacted virtually on a weekly basis with their peers through a learning management system (LMS) provided by International Virtual Schooling (IVECA). 

photo 1 (1)The goals of IVECA match the FWSU Action Plan goals to expand the opportunities for our students to become leaders and learners in a global society. Our students will need the skills obtained in IVECA to thrive in the world they will enter after high school. Starting the process of understanding how to work and learn with students from around the world is beneficial.

This is the third consecutive semester that our students and teachers have participated in the virtual exchange. Next year we plan to continue and to add other countries where our students are paired with a school in order to find peers to share their learning.

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The highlight each year of the program is the “live class” culminating event. Students meet each other face to face via a video link to discuss their learning and to just have fun. It is always a pleasure to see the excitement and the smiles on the faces of the students when they participate in the live class.

Thank you to the following teachers for participating this spring  — Ben Psaros (BFA), Melinda Carpenter (BFA), Andrew Sealy (BFA), Jen Skerrett (BFA), Alexis Bell (GEMS, Kay Lee (GEMS), Sandy Leclair (GEMS) and Karen Lehning (GEMS). Without their hard work this remarkable program would not have been available to our students.

BFA-Fairfax Middle School Geo-Bee Team Wins Vermont State Championship!

The BFA-Fairfax Middle School Geo-Bee team won the Vermont State Championship in
Northfield earlier this month. Geo-Bee is an annual team geography competition sponsored by the Vermont Principals Association.

GeoBee 2014 Photo

BFA’s team included 8th graders Harry Schukei, Ryan Parker, Nathan Bruning, and
Lillian Eastman; and 7th graders Shane Seals and Elias Davis. Harry and Nathan were
also members of the 2012 team that also won a state championship. They are coached by
teachers Jenn Skerrett and Mary Fitzgerald.

The students met twice a week after school from March through the competition to prepare. Preparation includes a lot of study time at home and support from parents. Students needed to learn so much more than just the names of places and capitols; rivers, deserts, mountain ranges, products and native animals expand the topics. A current events category leads to much speculation year-to-year. Then there is everyone’s favorite question, “ Where is America’s Stonehenge?” 

To study and learn the vast quantity of facts that are possible questions we use ‘old school’ resources such as atlases; as well as new innovations, such as,, and the GeoQuiz app.

Two of the four teams competing at the state championships were from FWSU: both BFA Fairfax and GEMS won their regional competitions on May 3.

Congrats to BFA and GEMS teams!

Your VOTE counts!

Three  very important votes will occur over the next seven days in each of the FWSU member school districts. Today the Town of Fletcher decides on a bond vote to add an addition to the existing elementary school. Tomorrow BFA Fairfax will hold its third school budget vote of the year. Next Tuesday, Georgia Elementary and Middle School will also holds its third school budget vote. Follow the links below for additional information on each vote.

Please remember to get out and vote!





Fletcher Bond Vote Information — VOTE TODAY

BFA Fairfax School Budget Information — VOTE TOMORROW

GEMS School Budget Information — VOTE ON JUNE 3