Recognizing the Language of Behavior

“The process of learning requires not only hearing and applying, but also forgetting and then remembering again.” This quote by John Gray can be easily  linked to Target 1-Student centered Learning and Target 4- Engaged Community Partners of the FWSU Action Plan:

As a part of FWSU’s opening inservice events, paraprofessionals were provided with a half day learning opportunity entitled:  “Behavior and Communication.”  This presentation was provided in conjunction with our community partner: Northwestern Counseling and Support Services (NCSS) The topic encouraged staff to engage with the presenter to gain additional understanding about behavior as a form of communication.  Our staff is committed to developing learning habits that will foster growth and independence, while providing our students with a way to express their needs in the learning environment.

The function of behavior may be:

  • Attention – To gain access to one’s attention, whether the attention is positive or negative.
  • Escape/Avoidance – To escape/avoid a particular activity, situation, person.
  • Tangible – To gain success to tangible items(s)
  • Sensory – To gain access to sensory stimulation.

This will be the first of many learning opportunities as we begin our education journey for this school year!

Building Community in Morning Meetings

Elementary classrooms in FWSU start the day with Morning Meeting. This daily routine from Responsive Classroom (RC) is an opportunity where students explore and practice social skills and model how social, emotional, and intellectual learning come together in school.  Morning Meeting is designed to give every child a sense of  belonging and helps a child develop listening, expressive and cooperative skills. Most of all, Morning Meeting is designed to be FUN – a great way to start the school day!

Teachers in FWSU generally participate in Responsive Classroom training during their first or second year in the district as part of their mentoring program. Responsive Classroom is a research-based approach to teaching children social skills and establishing a culture of caring within a classroom and a school.

“Good morning!”

Morning Meeting typically has four components: Greeting, Sharing, Group Activity, and News and Announcements. Our goal is to help create a positive sense of community in the classroom.   We recognize the need to systematically teach the skills of friendliness, listening, participation and including others.  The meeting also serves to model dialogue among even the youngest children.

Laughter and silly songs often accompany Morning Meeting even in classrooms with older students. This gathering time each morning gives students a chance to model and practice social skills with the help of entertaining greetings and songs that become familiar rituals within the groups. Some days morning meetings feel like a gathering of kids around a campfire at summer camp – a time when you hold your breath and wish for the magic to never end.

”Morning Meeting is a microcosm of the way we wish our schools to be- communities full of learning, safe and respectful and challenging for all.”  

Rosann Kriete, The Morning Meeting Book

Fletcher Elementary Launches Readers’ Workshop

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

Readers Workshop is a research-proven method of reading instruction that uses direct instruction and practice to promote a love of reading in students. It also personalizes the learning experience of each student and allows for differentiation to occur naturally. Students read books that are “just right” for who they are as learners.

Fletcher Elementary School this year just launched a new school-wide Readers’ Workshop during its literacy instructional block. This model allows students to gain the benefits of reading through self-reflection, self-pacing and time spent reading and sharing books. The Readers’ Workshop model also promotes a learning community that fosters diversity and the development of each student’s self-confidence and self esteem.

Third and fourth grade students created their own reading notebooks:

Cafe’ Menu provides students with strategies to support their reading.

“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”   –  Dr. Seuss “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut”

The Value of World Language Learning

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.❞ ‒Nelson Mandela

At FWSU we are fortunate to be able to offer world languages to many of our students. Learning a new language is not always easy, but it is worth the challenge! Gaining world-language communication skills can be the key to unlocking new opportunities in a rapidly-changing global marketplace. Schools recognize that foreign language instruction is vital to preparing our students for success in a future that has yet to be defined.

Here are just a few of the many reasons to learn a foreign language (Why Learn a Foreign Language? 2012):

  • helps you to expand your view of the world
  • encourages critical reflection on the relation between language and culture, language and thought
  • expands your opportunities for meaningful leisure activities (such as travel, viewing foreign language films, watching foreign TV programs)
  • develops your intellect (encouraging good learning habits, memorization, combining course content and skills in a meaningful way)
  • improves knowledge of the native language (through comparison and contrast with the foreign language)
  • exposes you to modes of thought and viewpoints that are available only in the foreign language and its culture
  • helps to build practical skills that may be used in other disciplines
  • fosters your understanding of the interrelation between language and human nature
  • teaches and encourages respect for other ethnic groups
  • contributes to the development of your personality

But perhaps the best reasons are to challenge yourself and to have some fun too! Students at BFA have choices between French and Spanish once they reach high school with Madame Poulin and Senor Vecchio. At GEMS, Spanish begins in Grade 7 with Ms. Peterson. Ms. Peterson is new to GEMS and we are glad to have her join our team of language experts!

Join the adventure!!!

Inflated Learning at BFA

Setting up the balloon!

Last Friday, our students at BFA had an exciting and up-close learning experience with a hot air balloon! Students enjoyed the opportunity to explore math and science concepts beyond the classroom walls.

Loading up Faculty and Staff
Flying over Fairfax

View local news coverage of this exciting event here!

Learning Joy from Our Youngest Students

One of this year’s main emphases highlighted by Superintendent Ned Kirsch during FWSU Inservice, is recapturing the joy in learning. Prekindergarten classrooms are often one of the most joyful places in a school.

Franklin West Supervisory Union is proud of its quality early education programs as part of our public school program.  Fletcher, Fairfax, and Georgia each offer two and three partial-day preschool programs for 3 and 4-year olds.

“As your child’s teacher, my primary goal is to nurture a sense of wonder, while laying a solid foundation for lifelong learning.”

FWSU preschools are play-based programs which use the Vermont Early Learning Standards as a framework of learning goals for preschool children.

Classrooms are designed for young learners. They are bright and inviting, with room for exploration and hands-on activities. Children benefit from facilitated play, language-rich experiences, and a range of quality literature, art and music opportunities each day that they attend preschool. Teachers work closely with parents to ensure that all children have a relaxed and joyful first-experience in school.

FWSU Launches New Teacher Evaluation Committee

Teacher evaluation at FWSU has been based on the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching for the past 8 years. It is a system used extensively throughout Vermont and the United States. The model evaluates teacher effectiveness in and out of the classroom. It has been a very good system.

Two years ago the FWSU Board of Directors asked for a comprehensive review of our teacher evaluation model, and charged us to make adjustments or revisions where necessary with a focus on measuring student growth and student outcomes.

This week, we formed a team of educators and administrators from all schools in FWSU to begin work on this important task.  The committee is comprised of the following individuals – Bev Briggs (FES), Janet E. Cerro (FES), Karen Garrett (GEMS), Phil Gulizio (GEMS), Melinda Carpenter (BFA), Tracey Godin (FES), Tom Walsh (BFA), Mary Lynn Riggs (FWSU), and Ned Kirsch (FWSU).

We began the process with a review of current literature and research  regarding teacher evaluation to build a common understanding of best practice. We then introduced the Appreciative Inquiry process to guide our work. It allows for the committee to build on the successes of our current system amd make the next system even better.

As work of the FWSU Evaluation Committee continues, more information will be shared.

BFA Athletics Department Gets Director

As planned during last year’s budget process, BFA Fairfax has formally enacted its administrative restructuring plan. Tom Walsh, formerly the Middle School Principal is now serving as BFA PK-8 Principal at BFA. Geri-Lyn Witalec, has moved from her position as the MS Guidance Counselor, to BFA PK-8 Assistant Principal and Athletic Director.

Geri proudly displays new BFA Fairfax t-shirt!

Geri is fully committed to the tradition of excellence that is BFA Athletics. Currently there are several new initiatives underway as we begin the year.

  1. Athlete’s Council – each Varsity team will designate two representatives to serve on the Council which will spearhead athletic initiatives such as eligibility requirements, behavioral expectations, athletic department community service opportunities, what it means to be a BFA Student-Athlete, and more.
  2. Athletic Eligibility – the Fairfax School Board will review and discuss athletic eligibility requirements at its regular meeting on September 10th.

Fall teams (JV/V Boys Soccer, JV/V Girls Soccer, HS Cross Country, HS Football, MS Boys and Girls Soccer, and MS Cross Country) are in full swing!

“This fall we have excellent participation numbers across the board. I’m really looking forward to a very successful start to 2012!” states Ms. Witalec

Come out and support BFA Bullet Athletics!  All team schedules are posted on the BFA Fairfax website.


Student-Athletes, Coaches, and Parents

valuing community, responsibility, and integrity

in the pursuit of excellence

Nuts+Bolts: A Closer Look at School Policy

Have you ever wondered about the work of school boards? According to state law, policy development is one the primary functions of school boards. These written policies articulate the overall vision for the district, shaping the direction of the educational organization. They are an essential guide for local school officials as they carry out the daily operations of the school.

Last spring, local school boards in FWSU embarked on a comprehensive review of all school policies. The goal of the work is to ensure that policy statements are focused on the broader vision. As a result, some language will be reworked – specific procedures outlined in several policies will be removed. This will provide greater flexibility for school administrators to align procedures with the operational needs of their buildings.

Image by Natasha Wheel, FWSU

Now that the review process is nearly complete, school boards will move on to the next phase of the project and formally adopt proposed policy changes. In accordance with state law, policy changes are publicly warned on school board meeting agendas so that members of the community have opportunity to offer input. Our school boards welcome community engagement in this important process and invite members of the public to attend meetings – especially those in which school policy revisions are under consideration. All meeting agendas are available in the school board section of the FWSU website

Once all of the revisions are complete, school boards will compile policies into helpful mini-handbooks by topic for easier reading and distribution. This is just one of the many ways that school board members are committed to serving our students, staff, and communities. Please join us in thanking our school boards for all their efforts!