Rachel McIntyre Named New Director of Support Services at FWSU

Rachel McIntyre Headshot

Rachel McIntyre

Franklin West Supervisory Union is pleased to announce that Rachel McIntyre has accepted a position as the Director of Support Services for Franklin West Supervisory Union effective July 2016. The decision made by the Franklin West SU Board of Directors follows an aggressive search process which began mid-April 2016. The search committee, comprised of SU and school leaders, teachers, a board member, and FWSU staff, identified two finalists. The FWSU Board unanimously approved a contract for Rachel McIntyre at its meeting on June 8, 2016 based on the recommendation by Superintendent Ned Kirsch.

Rachel McIntyre is currently the Special Education Coordinator at Missisquoi Valley Union Middle & High School where she has served for the past 2 years. Prior to that, Rachel was a Special Educator at BFA Fairfax for 14 years. She received her M.S. in Special Education from University of Vermont. Rachel lives in Fairfax with her husband and their two daughters.

“I’m really excited that Rachel is joining our team at FWSU”, said Superintendent Ned Kirsch. “Her experience as a Director of Special Education in a Grade 7-12 school, coupled with her previous experiences as Special Educator at BFA Fairfax, will be a benefit for all FWSU students and families. She already knows our system and our region, which should allow Rachel to hit the ground running.”

Welcome Rachel!

BFA Fairfax 6th Graders Collaborate and Play at Lotus Lake

IMG_1679On Thursday and Friday, May 27-27, the sixth grade from BFA went on their annual overnight trip to Lotus Lake in Williamstown, VT.  Students learned to collaborate, work, and play together more effectively through Team Challenge activities, building shelters in the woods, building rafts from a limited amount of available materials, and through challenge course stations.

The weather was beautiful! The students were also able to partake in a night hike, learning to investigate and appreciate their natural surroundings at dusk and after dark.


For both, students and as educators, Lotus Lake is always a favorite memory of the year.  It’s a chance for students to not only get to know each other better, but is also a chance for them to get to know their teachers better and for teachers to roll up their sleeves a little and get to play soccer, volleyball, and other fun activities with the students, making connections that aren’t always sparked within the classroom context.

BFA Fairfax Girls Run with Heart & Sole


Saturday, June 4, 2016, 40 girls in grades 3-8 at BFA Elementary/Middle School participated in the Girls on the Run/Heart & Sole 5K event at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex.  This celebratory, non-competitive event is the culminating experience of a 10 week program.  Completing the 5k gives the girls a tangible understanding of the confidence that comes through accomplishment as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals.



These girls met two days a week for 90 minutes each day from March to June.  The girls not only developed their skills as runners, they participated in activities designed to encourage positive emotional, social, mental, and physical development.  Participants explored and discussed their own beliefs around experiences and challenges that girls face.  They also developed important strategies and skills to help them navigate life experiences.


The program began with helping the girls develop a better understanding of who they are and what is important to them.  Then, they looked at the importance of teamwork and healthy relationships.  Finally, the girls explored how they can positively connect with and shape the world.  Physical activity is woven into the program to inspire an appreciation of fitness and to build habits that lead to a lifetime of health.



Freshman Core Team Transforms Learning for BFA Fairfax Class of 2020

When the Class of 2020 joins the high school at BFA next fall, they will be on the leading edge of a transformation. They will be the first class to graduate based on Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements which require high schools to change the way they instruct and assess students.


To begin this shift, all ninth grade students will take part in the Freshman Core, an interdisciplinary team taught proficiency-based experience. Core team teachers Will Brooks, Gabe Grant, Danielle Kicsak, Mark Ladue, Jensen Welch and Sara Villeneuve have been working all spring (and will continue through the summer) to develop expectations and plan curriculum that is inquiry based, student centered and rigorous.

Students will spend the first two blocks of the day working on Math, Science, Language Arts and Social Studies. This will provide all incoming freshman with a common experience and allow the teacher team to monitor student progress and provide additional support. The teachers plan to group students flexibly throughout the year based on the students’ needs and interests.


“We will use interdisciplinary approaches that  strive to help students to develop knowledge, insights, problem solving skills, self-confidence, self-efficacy, and a passion for learning” – Language Arts Teacher Sara Villeneuve

The team has been working with the University of Vermont College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences to create projects that will introduce students to the design process and help to develop their computational thinking. Students will have access to our new Maker Space as they solve relevant problems and work in conjunction with UVM students and professors.

“Through a combination of direct instruction, inquiry, and project-based work, the students will be working on rigorous targets to demonstrate proficiency in the basics of science, social studies, language arts and math.” – Math Teacher Jensen Welch


The students will also use LiFT to track their progress toward proficiency. LiFT is a Vermont developed software program that helps students to personalize their education and provide evidence of their learning. The team has been working with the creators of LiFT to learn about its capabilities so they can introduce it to their students in September.

The students will spend the last two blocks each day in elective courses in art, world language, health, physical education and other electives with students in grades 10-12.

The team is very excited to welcome the Class of 2020 to BFA and provide them with new opportunities to demonstrate their learning. The entire high school faculty is ready to embrace the changes brought about by the shift to Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements that will start with the Freshman Core.

Culture Fair Celebrates Family and Global History in Fletcher

When Lewis and Clark led their historic expedition through the uncharted American interior to the Pacific Northwest beginning in 1804, there wasn’t much chance they’d bump into their adventure-seeking French counterpart, Jacques Cartier. Even though Cartier explored the St. Lawrence River and gave Canada it’s name more than 350 years earlier, the three history-makers stood side by side in spirit at yesterday’s fifth and sixth grade Culture Fair at the Fletcher School.


Nathan Gillilan displays an old-fashioned toaster oven.

Fifth graders focused on learning about early explorers, answering three main questions: What were the results of their explorations? How did they change the world? and What positive and negative impact did the explorer have on native cultures? Sixth graders explored their own ancestry, asking what their relatives had endured in the past that empowers them today, how their family history contributed to the community and how different cultures make a community better.


Each Culture Fair project consisted of four main components including a research display board, bibliography of resources, digital presentation and a culminating presentation for families, the community and other classes during the Culture Fair itself. While many students included props from home, each display board also included the flag of origin, an essay, maps, pictures, diagrams and other supporting evidence of either the student’s explorer or their own ancestry.


Fifth graders worked with partners to learn about their chosen explorer, and were asked to provide each other feedback on the teaming experience. A rubric allowed students to assess their partner’s ability to work cooperatively, their helpfulness and attitude.


Fifth grader Kaila Sheltra studied Juan Ponce de Leon, who discovered Florida. According to Sheltra, learning about early explorers and cultures is important because, “we need to know what made this world what it is.”

Communication as a transferrable skill was a theme that ran through this project.

The Fletcher School has focused on communication proficiencies for all students this year and the fifth and sixth graders focused, in part, on explaining and informing their audience by researching and examining their topic and conveying ideas and information clearly. They received feedback on the organization, relevance, use of evidence, use of quotations and new vocabulary used in their writing. Students were also given feedback on their oral presentations and reflected on how compelling their found the assignment.


“The Culture Fair is important because other people might not know about these people and it is important to know about the people who impacted the world,” fifth grader Zachary Bushey said. For the Culture Fair, Bushey dressed as one of the Hawaiian natives who killed James Cook, an explorer who discovered many of the Pacific Islands. “He did not find the Northwest Passage, though. The Hawaiians killed him first.”

Sixth grader Sirena Sawyer appreciated the addition of personal ancestry to the Fair this year. “It was much more interesting because we were learning about our personal ancestry as opposed to just reading an article about someone else.” Sawyer interviewed her Grandmother, a native of Greece, to help understand her history.


Many presentations included a culturally relevant dish, as was the case with fifth graders Melissa Hall and Matthew Spiller’s apple crisp and early American cornbread, representing Lewis and Clark.

“It is important for the fourth graders to see what they will be doing next year,” fifth grader Jasmine Duncan said of the Culture Fair. “We also need to know who we came from and where we came from. It’s out history. It’s part of us.”

“The Culture Fair connects students with the past. Understanding how we got to where we are and to understand where you personally came from can help you go forward,” fifth grade teacher Tracey Godin said.

Target 2. Leadership: FWSU students and staff lead innovative, personalized learning opportunities.

Indicators of Success: (1) Students and staff act as coaches, facilitators, collaborators and co-learners in a personalized learning environment. (2) Students and staff design and implement plans together. (3) Students explore a greater understanding of community, social issues, and the self in community.

Action Steps: (1) Design multiple avenues for students and staff to lead, advocate and serve within the school community. (2) Shift teacher roles from direct of teaching to facilitator of learning. (3) Demonstrate learning habits, communication and problem-solving skills necessary for collaborative learning and leadership.

BFA Fairfax Runners Beat The Heat at the 2016 Vermont City Marathon Weekend

Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike, once said “The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race, it’s to test the limits of the human heart.”

BFAmarathon1On May 28 and 29, the infallible hearts of 50-plus members of the BFA Fairfax community were on full display during the annual Vermont City Marathon Weekend.  On days where temperatures and humidity levels were intimidating to even the most seasoned runners, BFA Fairfax students, faculty, staff, and family members braved the conditions and met or exceeded goals that were established in training many weeks and months earlier.


Whether participating in the youth races, team relay, or full marathon, the success of the weekend was a testament to the vibrant running community here at BFA Fairfax. In addition to our multiple runners, many other school community members were in attendance as race volunteers, supporters, or simply taking in the energy of the popular annual event.


We are extremely proud of our student, faculty, staff, and family runners here at BFA Fairfax.  They are true example of the interests and camaraderie of members of our school community that extend far beyond the walls of our classrooms.  We all can tap into their inspiration and determination, and look forward to continued success in future Vermont City Marathon weekends.

GEMS First Grader’s Demonstrate Community Collaboration

FWSU students play an important role in the relationship of learning and teaching. They are valued for their prior knowledge, skills, talents, interests, and cultural points of view.


First grade students in Mrs. Dattilio’s Georgia Elementary School’s classroom recently engaged in a performance of the folk tale “Stone Soup.” Some travelers come to a village, carrying nothing more than an empty cooking pot. Upon their arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the hungry travelers. Then the travelers go to a stream and fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire.


One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travelers answer that they are making “stone soup”, which tastes wonderful, although it still needs a little bit of garnish to improve the flavor, which they are missing. The villager does not mind parting with a few carrots to help them out, so that gets added to the soup.


Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travelers again mention their stone soup which has not reached its full potential yet. The villager hands them a little bit of seasoning to help them out. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. Finally, the stone (being inedible) is removed from the pot, and a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is enjoyed by all. Although the travelers have thus tricked the villagers into sharing their food with them, they have successfully transformed it into a tasty and nutritious meal which is shared with all.


This portrayal of this folk tale encouraged the student’s to act as a community of learners on stage while community members watched the performance. This play helped the students to gain a greater understanding of ways they can be positive contributors to our community.


Target 3. Flexible Learning Environments: FWSU will maximize flexible learning environments by redefining the school day, promoting learning experiences that extend beyond the school classroom, and fostering creativity, innovation,  and differentiated learning opportunities for all.

Action Steps: Provide students with access to content, resources, and methods for learning beyond the school day and beyond the school walls.  Develop opportunities for students to collaborate, innovate, create and conceptualize in all learning settings.