Meet some of the SU Staff! Part 2

The schools of Franklin West Supervisory Union are supported by the employees of the central office. Their work is often unseen, but is vital to the success of the system. In this new feature, we will share profiles of the folks working behind the scenes at FWSU:

Penny Decatur

Penny Decatur, Payroll Specialist & HR Assistant

What’s your job title?
Payroll Specialist & HR Assistant  

What sort of duties do you have at work?
Payroll, direct deposits, taxes, W2’s, quarterly state and federal reports, assist with human resources

What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Helping people 

 Do you have any pets?
Not yet.  Not for the lack of trying. Someday, I will have a dog and her name will be Gracie. 

 What was your favorite subject in school?

Do you like roller coasters?
Ummmm… that would be NO!!

Danielle Drogalis

Danielle Drogalis, Data Manager & Assessment Coordinator

What’s your job title?
Data Manager & Assessment Coordinator 

What sort of duties do you have at work?
SBAC Training, Support & Set-Up
-Data systems- Set Up, training, growth
-Positioning Data & Assessment to support curriculum, instruction, assessment and MTSS

 What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Partnering for Growth

 Do you have any pets?
Oooh, yes! A Husky, a German Shepherd, 3 cats and a turtle.   

 What was your favorite subject in school?

Do you like roller coasters?
In my previous life. Yes. Yes I did.  

Candace Truso

Candace Truso, Executive Assistant

What’s your job title?
Executive Assistant to the Superintendent and Director of Curriculum 

What sort of duties do you have at work?
I have the fun job of saying hello to everyone that comes into our building and who calls the office.  I get to help the Superintendent, Director of Curriculum, school boards and anyone in our school districts with something they might need extra help with.  I also manage the SU’s website and social media accounts.  Make sure to like, share, and comment! 

 What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Getting to order super cool things, like Gaga Pits, for our awesome students! 

 Do you have any pets?
Yes! A very sweet Goldendoodle named Ruby and a rabbit named Bobo Bunny.  

 What was your favorite subject in school?

Do you like roller coasters?
YES!!  I can’t wait to bring my boys Jacob and Benjamin to an amusement park to ride some coasters with them when they are tall enough! 

Relaxation and Meditation in Kindergarten

Part of our daily routine in Kindergarten includes a relaxation and meditation time after recess.  We use this part of the day to settle our bodies and brains to prepare for afternoon learning.  Relaxation takes many forms.  Sometimes we lie on the floor and listen to meditation stories or listen to a guided practice of tightening and relaxing the muscles in our bodies.  Other times we sit and follow along with a meditation practice on Mind Yeti or with Moovlee, who is a mindful monkey.  We end each relaxation time with a wish or mantra for the afternoon.

After relaxation, students engage in mindful coloring.  This activity is done with relaxing instrumental music playing.  We work on coloring pictures with very small details.  Or we draw pictures in our Mindfulness Journals about the meditation story that was listened to in Relaxation.  

Some thoughts on this part of our day:  

“When I am laying down, it makes me feel calm.”

“I color slowly.  It helps me feel relaxed.”

“I like relaxation.  You can think about being calm.”

“I like meditation coloring because you can use whatever color you want.”

“I like meditation stories.  They sound pretty.”

“Listening to the meditation stories makes me calm.”

“When I’m doing meditation coloring, it makes me feel calm and it makes me feel like coloring neatly.”

“Listening to music at meditation is beautiful.”

The Twelve Days of Fairfax

On the eve of holiday recess, BFA Fairfax gave to me…….

TWELVE lunchers lunching,

ELEVEN seniors smiling (behind their masks of course),

TEN first graders coloring,

NINE P.E.  players,

EIGHT ballers balling,

SEVEN sledders sledding,

SIX graham cracker crafters,

FIVE Administrative stars,

FOUR brass musicians,

Three IPad workers,

Two rock star nurses,

And the BEST PK-12 community!

On behalf of the Administration, faculty, staff, and students at BFA Fairfax, we hope you have a restful break filled with family, friends, laughter, and joy!! See you in 2022!

Geri Witalec-Krupa is the Director of Student Activities at BFA Fairfax. Geri is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow her @GLWit

Peace and Joy

Happy Holidays to everyone! One of my favorite Fairfax community members always greets me with the phrase, “Peace and Joy.” I find this simple message to be profound and timeless, especially in the midst of these past months that have continued to force us to navigate unprecedented pandemic-related challenges.

Regardless of this upside down and unpredictable world, I consider myself one of the luckiest people around to have the opportunity each day to be a public school educator. There are so many reasons to be pessimistic and jaded. There have been many times since March 2020 that I have experienced these emotions. I recently read an article that resonated with me. The premise of the article is that no one else is going to fix the professional challenges and personal struggles we encounter. The author asserts that we alone are responsible for our outlook and must identify and seek out those things that bring us joy to counteract the challenges.

Each day I try to focus on being present, attempt to recognize when situations are out of my control and do my best to minimize the energy I devote to worrying about the outcome and reactions of others. Instead, I focus on connecting with people who are optimistic and make me laugh. Throughout the pandemic I have refocused my attention to appreciating the simple things I used to take for granted, and cherishing those experiences that bring me joy. 

Life is not all sunshine and rainbows, but the more I focus on positives the more peace I experience. Here are some of the things that bring me joy:

  • The simple beauty of a sunrise.
  • Students writing cards of appreciation to Military Service members, First Responders, and BFA Fairfax Educators.
  • A record number of Mitten Tree requests filled.
  • An outpouring of donations to BFA Fairfax Food Drive.
  • Students dancing to a Grateful Dead song last week in their classroom.
  • Exchanging a greeting and fist bump with students every morning.
  • Connecting with students at recess, watching them play and be kids.
  • Experiencing kind and supportive conversations with families in the hallways, through emails, and when I call to share about a COVID-19 situation in a classroom. (Let’s be clear, no one wants to hear from me about COVID!)
  • Collaborating with my amazing team of educators to create a supportive and responsive learning environment. 
  • Reading a story with students.

I remain grateful for everyone in our learning community and the joy I experience being part of something bigger than myself. I hope you all have a fantastic Holiday break. Stay kind, safe, and well. Keep focused on the positives because there is goodness and joy all around! “Peace and Joy!”

Thomas Walsh is the Principal of BFA Fairfax Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY.

Scholar’s Bowl Is Back!

By Madeline King and Michelle Lynch, December 16 2021

After a brief hiatus during the 2020-2021 school year, BFA’s Scholar’s Bowl team is back and better than ever! On December 1st, they attended their second meet of the school year at BFA St. Albans. BFA brought two teams, which with combined statistics won 5 out of the 10 matches played.

BFA Fairfax Team A during their last match at the meet on December 1st. Left to right: Ryan Thatcher, Jacob Antonovich, Michelle Lynch, Madeline King

Scholar’s Bowl is an extracurricular activity that tests the participants’ knowledge on topics ranging from art to biology to video games. Meets consist of multiple matches where two four-person teams representing different schools compete. Individuals buzz in to answer questions and accumulate points. At the end of multiple rounds, the total points for each team is calculated to determine the winner.

This year, new recruits have brought the group’s total number to the double digits. When they hold practices after school on Thursday, anywhere between five and fifteen students attend, depending on other school-related events occurring on that day. Gabe Grant, the club’s advisor, almost always brings Smartfood Popcorn to make practice even more fun. Some of the group’s favorite questions originate in lightning rounds, where a category is given that encompasses all of the answers. “Personally, one of my favorite lighting rounds was one that named particular shades of red, yellow, and blue, and we had to guess which color it was,” member Madeline King said.

Some of the team after a Thursday afternoon practice. Left to right: Alden Kalbfleisch, Jacob Antonovich, Madeline King, Michelle Lynch, Bri Start, Emma Sweet.

Over the years, the group has built up a welcoming community that allows people to exercise and build upon their academic strengths in a collaborative way. “Scholar’s Bowl is a lot of fun,” member Chris Dukeshire said. “I like to show off and it gives me a chance to show my knowledge.” 

One thing’s for sure, now that it’s back and its community is growing, it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon!

By Madeline King and Michelle Lynch, December 16 2021

Elizabeth Noonan is the Principal of BFA Fairfax High School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY.

Top 5 List for Winter Break!

I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with students about the upcoming school break. With genuine curiosity, I’ve been collecting a running list of what our students are most excited about. The top of this list might surprise you!

So here goes…..

Coming in at number 5: Sleep

I can’t say I disagree. Many students are looking forward to sleeping in, sneaking in a nap, and possibly staying in pajamas for the day. 

Coming in at number 4: Snow

If I remember correctly, last year we hit sixty degrees over school break. Many students were hoping to have a big snowstorm this year. Sledding was a top priority for many of our elementary students. Skiing and snowboarding also was a popular answer. If I’m being honest, I hope for a storm too. 

Coming in at number 3: Movies (TV)

More of a high school perspective but many folks were excited about binge watching a netflix series, maybe a holiday favorite, with lots of snacks. Fair to say, my list of series to catch up on has grown. Thanks for all the recommendations. 

Coming in at number 2: Food

This one is closely paired with our number 1. Whatever holiday we celebrate, food seems to be a major part. Whether it’s that special meal we only eat once a year or permission to bend the rules on what we consider healthy. Food is a universal connector. 

And the number 1: Insert drum roll here – Spending time with family and friends

This warms my heart! Our current situation has limited the way we get to interact with our inner circle. Seeing or “seeing” (i.e virtual) various parts of our families is, without question, a highlight for many. Also the ability to gather with friends, safely, is something I know we all are looking forward to. 

Whatever you are excited for I hope it finds a way into your life!  

 Scott Thompson is the Director of Curriculum of Franklin West Supervisory Union and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @Stboatervt

Tis The Season of Giving and Celebration:

Amidst the continuing Pandemic we are often reminded that there are both needs, but also so many generous individuals and families in our community. Each Holiday season, some of our regular traditions at BFA Fairfax are to support area families in need with their own celebrations.

With the holiday season in full swing, one thing that never ceases to amaze is the generosity of this community in support of its families who need extra care during this time of year. Each year, the BFA Fairfax Mental Health team organizes a Mitten Tree to help support those families that are part of our learning community that need extra support for the holiday season. In addition to the Mitten Tree, the National Honor Society, in partnership with United Way and Operation Happiness, has been holding a Holiday Food Drive. This food drive will support families from across our region with the food they need to have a holiday meal. Students have set up boxes in classrooms with flyers indicating current need and our community has been hard at work to ensure that no family goes without this season. On Wednesday, NHS students will work with United Way to sort toys for Operation Happiness that will go on to support 36 local families. This effort has truly been a demonstration of BFA’s mission at work. Ensuring that students leave here with an understanding of what it means to be community members who demonstrate responsible social and civic behaviors. 

For the last two years the BFA Fairfax Mitten Tree has taken on a virtual format amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Community members access a Google form to select their Mittens rather than selecting them off the tree as in years past. While this new format was a break from tradition it has allowed the BFA Miten Tree to be shared near and far and is now accessed by a wider portion of our own and surrounding communities. This year the need in our community generated nearly 250 virtual mittens and as of 8am Monday, December 13th all of them had been selected by community members, teachers, local businesses, and those outside of the Fairfax community who wanted to ensure all families had a wonderful holiday season. This outpouring of compassion and support at a time when so many are in need is one of the many things that makes this community so special. I want to send a heartfelt thank you to all of those who participated for their generosity and for modeling for our students what it truly means to be a responsible and engaged community member at a time when community is what we need now more than ever. 

And it wouldn’t be a holiday season without our students performing in our annual Band and Choral Ensemble Holiday Performances. It was such a joy to enjoy two nights of full attendance for both our Middle Grades and High School performers opening the season.  Sitting in the High School Gymnasium with so many families and community members to share the holiday cheer as our ensembles and featured performers sang, played and spoke to a packed house on each night truly made the week both for those in attendance and for those watching via Facebook live. 

Also in the Holiday Spirit, on December 10th, the BFA Chamber Singers participated in the annual Madrigal Festival sponsored by ACDA.  While it looked a little different this year because of Covid-19 precautions, the singers had an amazing time and put on a spectacular performance.  The Chamber Singers were professionally recorded at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Burlington where they received some advice from the wonderful retired music educator, Carl Reccia.  Students were then able to catch the opening matinee of Steven Spielberg’s adaption of the classic movie/musical, “West Side Story”, shop, and have dinner before meeting approximately 200 students from schools around Vermont to perform “Carol of the Bells” and “Deck the Halls”.  The singers were introduced by Burlington’s Mayor, Miro Weinberger and performed in front of the huge lighted tree on Church Street.  Each school then moved to their own “station” on Church Street to perform on their own.  Many community members and parents came to see the performances and it was a festive and fun experience.

Justin Brown is the Principal at BFA Fairfax Middle School. He is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @jbrownenator

FES Falcons Use Technology Tuesdays To Explore Geocaching With Mystery Caches

As part of Technology Tuesdays at Fletcher Mrs. Palermo’s 5th and 6th grade students have been learning all about geocaching.

Geocaching encourages kids to explore the outside world around them and also offers lessons on how maps work, geography, and estimation. Kids search for geocaches by using GPS receivers to located the assigned waypoints (latitude and longitude) This type of exploration prompts discussions on creating graphs, measuring distances, and other math concepts as well as the geographical lessons. After learning the basics of geocaching, the students then started to explore other aspects of the computational thinking skills needed for geocaching.

Most recently, the students took on the challenge of solving Geocaching Mystery Caches. With traditional caches, students use given coordinates to find caches. With Mystery caches, the students have to first solve problems to get the correct coordinates.

Thanks to a premium Geocacher team members, Jokeerus, who have designed Mystery Caches especially for children, our students had an opportunity to solve Mystery Caches. These geocachers have designed these too do their part to encourage the younger generation to enjoy geocaching. As a result, our students are able to solve problems to virtually find geocaches hidden in Utah.

The students used their skills to work hard at decoding and solving a variety of mystery caches. They solved a variety of codes using pig pen cyphers, tap code, and many others. After solving the puzzles, the students where then able to check with the geocache owners to gain a “find” for the geocaches.

The students did a great job and earned the reward for finding the caches.

If you are interested is solving these or other caches, check out these links to the Mystery Caches series hidden. It is a great experience, and we were appreciative of the work done by Team Jokeerus!

  1. Jigsaw -Kid Puzzle [#1]  GC96X5W
  2. Emoji Imagination Kid Puzzle GC96X6D
  3. Angelic Symbols -Kid Puzzle GC9746H
  4. Ka-Chow! Kid Puzzle GC97F05
  5. Animal Tracks -Kid Puzzle GC9745Y
  6. Coded Candy Kid Puzzle GC9746W
  7. Lego Lingo Kid Puzzle GC97T7G
  8. QR-dinates Kid Puzzle GC97W37
  9. Chocolate Pigpen -Kid Puzzle GC97VZF
  10. Tap Code -Kid Puzzle 
  11. Folding Fun Kid Puzzle GC981RE
  12. Incredible! -Kid Puzzle GC9839W

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.

Meet some of our FWSU central office staff

The schools of Franklin West Supervisory Union are supported by the employees of the central office. Their work is often unseen, but is vital to the success of the system. In this new feature, we will share profiles of the folks working behind the scenes at FWSU:

Kim Cornett

Kim Cornett

What’s your job title?

What sort of duties do you have at work?
I pay bills, compile information required from the state for grant reporting, receive revenue deposits, invoice schools for expenses, help co-workers whenever possible.

 What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Knowing I am helping students and teachers to be successful.

 Do you have any pets?

 What was your favorite subject in school?

Do you like roller coasters?

Jess Jenkins

Jess Jenkins

What’s your job title?
Administrative Assistant to the Director of Student Services 

What sort of duties do you have at work?
Accounts payable, Purchasing, State reporting, etc.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Getting to help out in the schools 

Do you have any pets?
2 cats, 1 dog

What was your favorite subject in school?

Do you like roller coasters?
Love them! 

Lisa Koval

What’s your job title?
Coordinator of Student Support Services

Lisa Koval

What sort of duties do you have at work?
Supporting 504 case managers and special educators
-Attending evaluation, eligibility and IEP meetings
Exploring resources to support the implementation of VTMTSS

What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Getting to work with other teachers, interventionists, and administrators across the district to support student learning. 

Do you have any pets?
Yes, 1 cat – a calico named Medley who thinks she’s the Queen of our castle! 

What was your favorite subject in school?
Science- I really loved biology and anatomy & physiology 

Do you like roller coasters?
Love them! When we last visited an amusement park pre-covid, I proudly rode all the coasters at Hershey Park along with my son Dylan. 

John Tague is the Superintendent at Franklin West Supervisory Union and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @jtague252

ABC’s of Fourth Grade

Ms. Godin’s fourth grade class has been busy learning about non-fiction writing using ABC Books. The class read many ABC books, learned about plagiarism and how to take notes, then, each student chose a topic they were either curious or passionate about. Subjects range from Famous African American Women to World Leaders.

Index cards were given to each student to collect information on their subject A-Z. On the back of each card was written the source. On the opposite side students collected information on their subject. After students were done gathering information they were given a rubric of how they would be scored. This rubric gives them precise information on what they need to include to get the grade they want. A checklist was also provided for students to make sure they have included everything.

As students create their ABC Books using the app, Book Creator, they look to their notes and checklists to make sure have included everything on their slides. Pictured here are a couple of students’ books in progress.

When they are finished each student will present his/her book to the class.

Aimee Toth is the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY.