The FWSU Story: School’s Out in FWSU

Memories made at GEMS Thursday…

Lots of laughter along the way….

Goodbye to Mr. Calano, still lookin’ cool…

And another Sixth Grade Lock-in at Fletcher Elementary School…

The famous Senior Walk, a BFA goodbye…

Plus a Class Day celebration led by this guy…

And we’ll say another goodbye to our leader,

Who always kicked the last school day into high gear…



Linda Keating

Linda Keating is the Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment and Acting Superintendent at Franklin West Supervisory Union. She is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow her on Twitter @Educate4ward

The FWSU Story: Welcome, Donald Van Nostrand!

On July 1, 2019 Donald Van Nostrand joins the Franklin West Supervisory Union (FWSU) as our Interim Superintendent of Schools for the 2019-2020 school year. Mr. Van Nostrand currently serves as Interim Principal at JJ Flynn Elementary School in the Burlington School District. Prior to his current position he served as Interim Superintendent for the Grand Isle Supervisory Union.

The decision comes after the Franklin West Supervisory Union Board of Directors interviewed two finalists on June 3, 2019. The Board voted unanimously to offer Donald Van Nostrand a one-year contract from July 1 2019 to June 30, 2020. During the 2019-2020 school year a full search for a permanent Superintendent will take place.

Mr. Van Nostrand has an extensive background in education and served as Superintendent of Orleans Central Supervisory Union prior to his position as Interim Superintendent of Grand Isle SU. Franklin West is confident that Mr. Van Nostrand’s vast administrative experience will provide continuity and stability for the Supervisory Union over the next year.

FWSU Board Chair, Tara Sweet said, “The FWSU Board is pleased to welcome Don to our supervisory union. His deep expertise and leadership skills make him a great fit to help FWSU through this unexpected transition and to lead us in continuing to provide the best possible education for all students within FWSU.”

FWSU looks forward to expanding our vision for continuous improvement by growing our “belief in what is possible” and moving forward together.

FWSU Builds New Garden Beds In Honor of Ned Kirsch

FWSU was blessed to have a visionary Superintendent who understood and appreciated the benefits of a wellness program.

In July 2014, Superintendent Ned Kirsch was excited with the addition of FWSU’s employee garden beds — he was ready to grow!

Each year, the SU’s office staff planted gardens and enjoyed the benefits they provided. You would often find Ned tending to his plot in the district’s garden, using it as a lab to see which kinds of vegetables might grow Artichokes? Yes, he tried them.

With the recent loss of Ned, the FWSU staff all agreed that they wanted to rebuild new garden beds and dedicate them in his honor.

In his memory, through a Central Office team collaboration that Ned would have loved, the staff have created an area where they can enjoy the gardens, keeping close to their hearts, a belief in what is possible

Angelique Fairbrother, FWSU Digital Learning Specialist
Angelique Fairbrother, FWSU Digital Learning Specialist

Angelique Fairbrother is the Digital Learning Coach at Franklin West Supervisory Union. She is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow her on Twitter @FWSUtech

The FWSU Story: Fletcher Students Rise to the Top with Healthy Lifestyles

Students in two classrooms at Fletcher Elementary School have achieved gold status with the wellness group, RiseVT. Cathy O’Brien’s kindergarten class and Kathleen Pellegrino’s first and second graders embarked on a year-long collaboration with the statewide organization to encourage small changes in students’ lives that will have a big impact on their health for years to come.

“We have lots of academic standards and resources,” Pellegrino said. “But there is less in place for teaching about wellness. Our partnership with RiseVT is one way we are bridging that gap in a way that is engaging and meaningful to students.”

RiseVT offers classrooms recognition at the bronze, silver and gold levels, progressively. Bronze status requires six of fifteen wellness activities, silver requires nine and gold level classrooms complete twelve of fifteen items on the RiseVT menu. The wellness activities range from adopting classroom wellness policies, participating in mindfulness activities, and incorporating movement and nutrition education into classroom routines, to taking a tobacco free pledge and ensuring that the teachers model healthy habits. Classrooms may choose from a list provided by RiseVT, but teacher-designed activities, such as Fletcher’s five week Winter Wellness Program, also count.

Founded in 2015, RiseVT works with individuals, employers, schools, childcare providers and municipalities to teach and promote healthy choices in children and adults. The group began in Franklin and Grand Isle Counties and is expanding statewide.

To achieve gold, classrooms must also engage families by adopting and sending home a copy of the classroom wellness policy. The policy suggests healthy options for classroom celebrations, snacks and physical activity. The RiseVT Pledge is also required, and ensures students’ commitment to learning about simple lifestyle changes that will benefit their health and wellbeing.

“Teaching students about being healthy is important to me,” O’Brien said. “ We know how things like exercise and eating well improve our quality of life. I want that for my students and they were really interested in learning these skills.”

Students received certificates at all three levels, along with a classroom kickball for achieving bronze. At the silver and gold levels, teachers also received Amazon gift cards to purchase a wellness item for the classroom and students received swag such as t-shirts. A RiseVT Wellness Specialist visited the school throughout the year to celebrate the milestones and complete a wellness activity with the classes.

“When my students pull out their snacks now, they identify foods that they should be eating regularly and those that should be the occasional treat,” Pellegrino said. “The learning really has carried over into their lives.”

“These are lifelong skills,” O’Brien said. “My students know that movement and eating well help them get focused and settle into their work. This is knowledge that they can carry into their adult lives to make them more successful.”

“We played a food game and we learned what is healthy for you to have all the time and what should be a treat,” kindergartner Mia Riggs said. “My favorite all-the-time food is carrots and cucumbers.”

“I learned that you should exercise,” first grader Fiona Gillilan said. “I like to be outside and there are lots of exercises you can do outside. Exercise helps you stay healthy.”

“We learned how important it is to drink water,” first grader Hale Marcotte said. “We learned that water should be our first choice to drink.”

“All of us at RiseVT want to congratulate the two classrooms at Fletcher Elementary School that achieved gold status on the RiseVT scorecard,” RiseVT Executive Director Marissa Parisi said. “To live a long, healthy life it is important to develop habits early on that will stick with you for the long term. Committing to a healthy classroom helps students and teachers feel we’re all in this together to embrace healthy lifestyles. We’re excited to continue our work with Fletcher Elementary next year to support them reaching the bold goal of having all their classrooms achieve RiseVT gold status.”

“RiseVT is a strong collaborator with all of our FWSU schools,” Director of Curriculum Linda Keating said. “As a partner with our Whole-School, Whole-Community, Whole-Child Steering Committee, RiseVT helps engage all learners within FWSU in active, healthy lifestyles that promote lifelong wellness.”

Christopher Dodge is the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @FletcherFalcon

The FWSU Story: GEMS Fourth Grade students team with Innovation Lab to spread the word about Recycling and Composting

Schools have been recycling and composting for years, but two GEMS fourth graders firmly believe more needs to be done. Callie and Ella started by writing a letter to Principal Emery asking for an opportunity to spread the message about how students could increase recycling and cut waste to make a positive impact on the environment. After presenting to their peers in a full cafeteria, they were looking for another way to get their point across. Knowing the GEMS Innovation Lab has helped produce a number of student videos including a weekly news feature called GEMS TV Express, Mr. Emery shared the idea of creating a public service announcement with Mr. Hadd.  

Ella and Callie began visiting the innovation lab weekly and working with Mr. Hadd. The production involved planning, scripting, interviewing, media creation, and editing. What emerged at the end was a short documentary. Interviews of school staff members, images, and other video clips support the main theme that everyone can make better choices and take action to improve the environment. The video has already been shown in classrooms and now we are sharing it with a wider audience.

Video is a powerful platform for student voice. How can you make a change? How can you take action?

Steve Emery is the Elementary Principal of Georgia Elementary Middle School. He is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY.

The FWSU Story: BFA Middle School News

The time from April break through the end of the school year flies by in schools. In the BFA Middle School, there has been many activities and accomplishments to round out the year.

This year’s GeoBee team included 8th graders Jacob A. and Laurel C.; and 7th graders Alaina R., Jack T., and Kagan W. The team is coached by Jennifer Skerrett.

GeoBee State Champions

On May 11, the BFA Fairfax Middle School GeoBee team won the Vermont State Championship. GeoBee is a team geography competition run by the Vermont Principals Association. Teams first compete in a regional competition before advancing to the state championships. Also competing in this year’s state championship were Orwell Village School and Hartland Elementary.

The GeoBee team meets 2-3 days a week after school, from March – May, preparing for the competition. Questions cover a range of topics, from Vermont geography to the geography of Australia and New Zealand.

Trills and Thrills

Over the past two weeks, our 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students have participated in Trills and Thrills. The day begins with a performance at a New York high school where our band and chorus are judged by professional adjudicators. After the performance, the students travel to The Great Escape for a fun day riding the rides, playing games, and eating. For the second year in a row all of our groups earned a “Superior” rating. This opportunity is a reflection of the growth of our music program and the dedication of teachers Ian Flint, Christie Maynard, and Sarah Wolff.

Boston Trip

On April 18 and 19, our 8th grade students travelled to Boston. During the trip, we explored the Freedom Trail including Paul Revere’s house, visited the New England Aquarium, had dinner at Quincy market, saw the Blue Man Group, visited the Museum of Science and had a traditional Italian lunch in the North End. The overnight trip was exciting and exhausting. It was amazing to see the growth in our students over the 30 hours we were in the city. The trip would not have been possible without the advance organization of Sally Billado and the tireless work of chaperones and 8th grade teachers Ben Psaros, Melody Wilkins, Dana Hamm, Ashley Barnes-Cota, Dylan “Blue Man” Callan, and Christie Maynard.

The end of the year culminates with the 8th Grade Dinner and Middle School Dance, Honors Breakfast, Step Up day, 7th Grade Trip to Jay Peak Water Park and the 8th Grade Graduation Ceremony.  It’s a lot to pack into a week, but BFA’s Middle School students and staff love challenge and adventure.

John Tague is the Principal of BFA Fairfax Middle/High School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him @jtague252

The FWSU Story: Fletcher Elementary Spring Concert!

Fletcher Elementary held it’s spring concert earlier this week. The school’s band, chorus and individual classes performed the 45-minute afternoon show to an audience of family and friends. We invite you to enjoy these excerpts – pictures and video – from the performance.

Christopher Dodge is the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @FletcherFalcon