About Franklin West SU

School District in Fairfax, Fletcher, Georgia, VT. Apple Distinguished Program. League of Innovative Schools. "A belief in what is possible."

THE FWSU STORY: Thanks For A Great Year!

We want to thank everyone in the FWSU community for supporting our schools. This year was our 6th year blogging about our schools every day and we really appreciate you all taking the time to read and react to our stories. We will post some stories this summer and then get back to it full time in August.

Have a great summer, but before you do, take some time to stroll down memory lane with us with a look back some of our favorite pictures of the year.

Shannon Mahoney, Vermont Presidential Scholar

Shannon Mahoney, Vermont Presidential Scholar

Congratulations to Cathy O'Brien, Wellness Rockstar!

Wyeth at the State Geography Bee

Wyeth at the State Geography Bee

THE FWSU STORY: Fletcher Community Honors Retiring Veteran Teacher Jenny Blackman

Mrs. Jennifer “Jenny” Blackman has taught Kindergarten at the Fletcher Elementary School for the past 13 years and is beloved by her students, their families, her colleagues and the community at large. She will retire from teaching in on Monday, with the tremendous respect of all who have had her as a teacher and those who have worked with her.

Jenny Blackman and Melissa Sargent-Minor

Jenny Blackman and Melissa Sargent-Minor

Present and former students, families, and colleagues honored Mrs. Blackman at a reception earlier this week, where the Fletcher School Board presented her with an apple tree, which she and her husband, Oliver, promptly planted near their pond at their Waterville home.

The Apple Tree

The Apple Tree

Mrs. Blackman has exemplified what it means to be a lifelong learner, graduating from Champlain College with her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education in the spring of 2016. She took great pride in sharing her extensive knowledge both with student teachers and with colleagues, including those at regional and national conferences such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children. She is a strong advocate for play as a learning tool and outdoor learning in the natural world. No matter who or what she is teaching, her strengths include honoring the natural curiosity of the student and balancing the academic and social curriculum.

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Mrs. Blackman served as the Co-Chair of the Lamoille North Standards Board, supporting the certification and relicensure of professional educators. She was a Lamoille North Literary Magazine judge, Upward Bound Instructor and Assistant Postmaster in Waterville. She has been a School Board Member, Lister, Welcome Baby Home Visitor for Waterville and Belvidere, Community Literacy Team Member, a member of the Vermont Philharmonic Orchestra, Johnson State College Concert Band and the Morrisville Military Band.

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Mrs. Blackman in her classroom with her students.

In 2004, her then Superintendent, Bob McNamara, wrote the following in his recommendation to the Fletcher School Board about Mrs. Blackman as she applied to join the F.E.S. staff.

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Mrs. Blackman with students on a field trip earlier this year.

“I find Jenny to be an active and engaging teacher. Her instructional goals are clear and her presentation is crisp and engaging. She holds the students’ attention and encourages them to actively engage in their learning.”

Students engage in many hands on learning activities in the classroom.

Students engage in many hands-on learning activities in the classroom.

Mrs. Blackman’s teaching has stood the test of time. As she says farewell to our school and teaching, her smile, humor, skill, and compassion become her legacy that lives on in the hearts and minds of those she taught.

Mrs. Blackman's smile and humor will be missed!

Mrs. Blackman’s smile and humor will be missed!

Thank you, Mrs. Blackman. 

THE FWSU STORY: Researching & Developing A Solution For Plastic Waste at GEMS

Early this year, FWSU offered educators an opportunity to earn a FWSU micro-credential based upon the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Eric Hadd, an Educational Technology Specialist at GEMS, was one of the first to earn the micro-credential based on his work with his students. Throughout the year,  he continues to provide students with opportunities to develop solutions towards the goal of ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

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Throughout the year, as several students design projects using the 3D printer, the first prototypes created can often be unusable and therefore produce plastic waste. Two students enrolled in Mr. Eric Hadd’s choice class, Research and Development Lab, recently took on the challenge to find a way to reduce the PLA (Polylactic acid) plastic waste generated in the GEMS innovation lab. This work ties in with Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production which is to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. One of the targets of Goal 12 includes using eco-friendly production methods and reducing the amount of waste.  

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Inspired by Precious Plastic’s challenge to start collaborating and boost plastic recycling,  Jason and Logan began work to modify and improve plastic smoothies, a method of turning 3D printer plastic into useable items. Precious Plastic is a global community of hundreds of people working towards a solution to plastic pollution.  This organization works to reduce plastic waste and create tools that make it easier to start recycling plastic.

During their choice class, the boys developed a practical, useable procedure to repurpose the PLA Plastic waste into a usable sheet of plastic. These sheets of plastic can then be used by other students to design with using the laser cutter. Students have already made jewelry items using the recycled plastic.

Documenting all of their trials, errors, and successes, in their research and development journal, the team is working to create a user-friendly procedure to be published on the Instructables website. Instructables is a website specializing in user-created and uploaded do-it-yourself projects, which other users can comment on and rate for quality.


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THE FWSU STORY: BFA Fairfax High School Field Team Transects Franklin County

The new BFA Fairfax High School end of year Mini-mester has enabled Science Teachers Thomas Lane and Thomas Pfeiffer to engage students in a unique field experience. Nearly 20 students and teachers Lane and Pfeiffer are currently transecting Franklin County from east to west.

(Map of Transect Franklin County Field Team route.)

(Map of Transect Franklin County Field Team route.)

This field assessment has not been done by anyone in this manner before.

(Field Team at the start of Day 1.)

(Field Team at the start of Day 1.)

The students and teachers are collecting baseline data to establish existing aspects of the environment and hopefully monitor change in the future.

(Moving through a beaver dam in the first minutes of Day 1. Wesley in the foreground.)

(Moving through a beaver dam in the first minutes of Day 1. Wesley in the foreground.)

(Left to right Jackson, Sky, Jaxon and Michael at Branch Creek near the eastern edge of Franklin County southeast of Bakersfield, VT.)

(Left to right Jackson, Sky, Jaxon and Michael at Branch Creek near the eastern edge of Franklin County southeast of Bakersfield, VT.)

(Eastern boundary of Franklin County southeast of Bakersfield, VT.)

(Eastern boundary of Franklin County southeast of Bakersfield, VT.)

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(Left to right, Eli, Shane, Luke, Devyn collecting data during transect.)

Students and teachers stopped to collect data using observation and Vernier sensors every 15 minutes during the transect. Types of data include; air temperature, humidity, soil moisture and type, numbers and types of birds, animal presence, human presence (current and historic), land use, reptiles and amphibians, tick numbers, tree types and background sound level.

(Small frog. Picture courtesy of Shane Seals.)

(Small frog. Picture courtesy of Shane Seals.)

(Harry with a snake. Picture courtesy of Shane Seals.)

(Harry with a snake. Picture courtesy of Shane Seals.)

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(Moving through a horse pasture near S. Rd. and Buck Hollow Rd.)

(Lucky to find a beaver dam to cross Dead Creek in the middle of Fairfield swamp.)

(Lucky to find a beaver dam to cross Dead Creek in the middle of Fairfield swamp.)

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(Ethan in the dense thickets of Fairfield swamp.)

(Collecting data and having lunch at Black Creek south of E. Fairfield, VT.)

(Collecting data and having lunch at Black Creek south of E. Fairfield, VT.)

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(Sky with red eft.)

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(Michael and Tyler in front stepping carefully across a manured field off Whitney Rd. E. Fairfield.)

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(Ethan uses his backpack to keep Tyler from being zapped by an electrified fence east of Swamp Rd. Fairfax, VT.)

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(Moving through steep terrain somewhere south of Fairfield, VT.)

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(Start of day 4 the BFA Field Team transecting Franklin County.)

The Field Team is on track to reach Lake Champlain by Thursday afternoon to complete the Franklin County transect. A huge thank you to FWSU Transportation Manager Patsy Parker and all of the Bus Drivers at BFA Fairfax for coordinating the drop-off and pickups on a daily basis.

THE FWSU STORY: The Hive is Alive! GEMS 6th Graders Explore the Importance of the Honey Bee

A small group of 6th Graders gave us the “buzz” on bees this week as they presented their work on the importance of honey bees.  For four weeks, these students studied the honey bee and all the intricacies of the hive; culminating in an hour-long presentation, complete with costume, simulations, and snacks!

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Students learn about the honey bee.

The students had an opportunity to participate in a workshop shop with Kurt Valenta from Exordium an authentic learning experience with a lot of hands-on components, all within the classroom setting.

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Mr. Kurt Valenta from Exordium shared the importance of the honey bee.

The presentation focused on 5 key concepts: Pollination, Community, Communication, Energy, and Design.

Students learned about 5 key concepts about the honey bee.

Students learned about 5 key concepts about the honey bee.

Each component was connected to the Driving Question: Why are honey bees important and what can you do to help?

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Students discuss their learning with their classmates.

The students lead their peers through two simulations – demonstrating honey bee communication and pollination.

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The class was energized by their learning experience!

The 6th-grade class was energized by the experience provided by their classmates. One student commented, “They obviously put a lot of work into this presentation.  You can see the process of beautiful work.  They were well-rehearsed and prepared.  I had so much fun!”

THE FWSU STORY: BFA Fairfax Students Engage in Financial Literacy Program

Students and staff in grades four and eight partnered with Junior Achievement and People’s United Bank on June 6th to engage in a day of financial literacy.

 

Junior Achievement (JA) is a non-profit organization that provides age-appropriate programs for youth in grades K-12, focusing on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and career exploration. People’s United Charitable Foundation (People’s United Bank), is a long-time supporter of JA’s mission. The People’s United Bank Foundation has provided the funding for all the materials and People’s United Bank employees volunteered to present the programs in the classrooms.

Students learned important financial literacy skills using a fun and interactive game.

Students learned important financial literacy skills using a fun and interactive game.

Students in grade four participated in a range of activities to increase their understanding of what it means to be an entrepreneur.  Students engaged in learning activities that explored the traits of an entrepreneur and deepened their knowledge of human, capital, and natural resources in different regions of the country and the impact on business, and the finances and problem solving of running a business.

Materials provided age-appropriate instruction for 4th graders about business and entrepreneurship.

Materials provided age-appropriate instruction about business and entrepreneurship.

In grade eight, students investigated types of careers based on skills, interests, and values.  Students explored the importance and impact of education and work skill development on career offerings.  In addition, students deepened their understanding of gross and net income, taxes, opportunity costs, credit, and the value of different types of insurance coverages.

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A self-knowledge treasure hunt allowed students to reflect on their learning and assess their financial literacy.

We are really appreciative of Junior Achievement and People’s United Bank for partnering with BFA Fairfax to provide this important learning opportunity for our students. The content and activities were engaging and relevant.  The program made direct connections to the Common Core State Standards and provided an authentic opportunity to engage with the Vermont Transferable Skills.  We had a great day of learning and encourage other schools to participate in this program.

Resources for financial literacy learning were provided to students.

Resources for financial literacy learning were provided to students.

For more information about the Junior Achievement program, contact Jennifer Connolly at jconnolly@jawm.org.