Six years ago we launched THE FWSU STORY. We decided it was important to share the story of our schools each and every day with our communities and stakeholders. Our initial goal was to use blogging as a platform to broadcast the “good” news and build awareness of our system. Our goal remains the same and as of today, we’ve had over 109,000 views of our blog!
Along with telling the good news of our districts, we also wanted to report on and document the work of our schools towards our new centralized FWSU Action Plan. The plan started a change in our system. The plan looked at how we operate our schools and what was important for our students’ future. It looked at creativity, innovation, global understanding/interaction, community partnerships and leadership as regular parts of our instructional practice. It was a systematic belief in what is possible. Four target areas were identified for our action plan:
- Proficiency-based student-centered learning
- Engaged community partners
- Flexible learning environments
The beauty of the targets is their simplicity. They are simple to grasp, easy to believe in, and made our schools feel more human and less industrial. Since the initial plan was launched it has been revamped; under the direction of the FWSU Board, however, the targets have remained the same. The board made a decision because of the evidence of the positive impact our plan is having in our district. Some of the examples include:
- FWSU has been named an Apple Distinguished twice in the past 5 years. The designation is reserved for programs that meet criteria for innovation, leadership, and educational excellence. FWSU is the only system in Vermont with this designation.
- FWSU is also one of 83 districts nationwide to be a member of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools. Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools.
- FWSU has been named a school of distinction by IVECA (International Virtual Education). IVECA Center for International Virtual Schooling focuses on the concept of intercultural competence in our education program. Superintendent Ned Kirsch was invited to speak on a panel this summer at the United Nations on our schools work in this area.
- FWSU launched Innovation Labs in all of our schools. Innovation Labs offer students a more intense focus on design thinking and innovation enlarges our capacity to integrate sets of skills such as coding, research, fabrication, making and gaming to solve the authentic problems our world is now facing.
- FWSU was one of ten schools nationwide featured in the Education Elements competency (proficiency) based education playbook. FWSU (BFA Fairfax HS) was recognized for its leadership in building a personalized system for our students.
- FWSU is a finalist for P21 designation as an exemplar system this year (schools nationwide will be notified in November). If accepted, FWSU will be the first district in Vermont with this designation. P21 also featured a blog written by BFA Fairfax students on student leadership.
- FWSU was one of three districts in Vermont invited to participate in the Early Learning Networked Improvement Community of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Four states are participating in this work building knowledge and capacity for strengthening early literacy and mathematics instruction. GEMS administration and teachers will represent our system.
- BFA was named Vermont’s ACT College and Career Transition Exemplar for the 2016-2017 ACT College and Career Readiness Campaign. ACT identified BFA Fairfax as one of a select group of high schools in Vermont for the ACT College and Career Transition Award. High schools were identified based on ACT test data and high school demographics. ACT State Councils—comprised of education and workforce professionals from all 50 states—chose the school for state exemplar designation.
The work that has been accomplished could only have been made possible by supportive communities, strong school boards, visionary administrators, fabulous teachers, and outstanding students. FWSU continues to be guided by a belief in what is possible. As a learning community, we are leveraging all of the elements for success and want to inspire our followers to dream big dreams and believe in what is possible as well.
It’s one reason why we keep telling our story every day!