THE FWSU STORY: Fletcher Students Learn About Financial Literacy

Plan ahead. Isn’t that what we’ve always been told? In Fletcher, students have begun to do just that, and they are working to secure their financial futures in the process.

Each student received a certificate signed by State Treasurer Beth Pearce.

Each student received a certificate signed by State Treasurer Beth Pearce.

The Reading is an Investment Program is an initiative of the Vermont State Treasurer’s Office. It encourages students to learn about financial literacy through children’s books. This year’s theme, “Creative Ideas Pay Off,” encourages librarians to share the stories of entrepreneurs and their innovative ideas and projects that have led them to financial success. Creativity and planning skills are emphasized as students share stories that provide inspiration and a framework for their future financial plans.

The program provides a book list that focuses on money management, as well as a reading log for students and suggested activities that teach students about personal finance. In Fletcher, all students shared financially-themed books as part of library classes with Librarian Emily DiGiulio.

"The Bridge of the Golden Wood" by Karl Beckstrand and Yaniv Cahoua

This title was included on the book list: “The Bridge of the Golden Wood” by Karl Beckstrand and Yaniv Cahoua

“Our students gain an understanding of financial concepts as they make connections to the stories and characters in the books,” DiGiulio said. “The books include young characters making a difference in their families and communities and help students understand financial issues. Through reading, book discussions, and reviewing ideas with partners in the activities, students begin learning about the role money plays in our lives while building their skills for financial well-being.”

Three books are included in the program this year. The Bridge of the Golden Wood, By Carl Beckstrand, tells the stories of successful businesspeople and how they have turned creative ideas into practical solutions. It also teaches the relationship between goods and services and the relationship between expenses and sales. A second story, Barbara deRebertis’s, Count on Pablo, tells the tale of a young boy and his grandmother who develop a successful plan to market their wares. The final book, Soda Bottle School, by Laura Kutner and Suzanne Slade, discusses how a young girl evaluates the wants and needs of her customers.

Another title was "Count on Pablo" by Barbara deRubertis

Another featured title: “Count on Pablo” by Barbara deRubertis

“Supporting students in thinking about money management, financial success, and ingenuity at an early age is a critical step in setting the stage for creating adults who behave in a financially responsible manner,” Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Teacher Leader Denette Locke said. “It’s great to see this theme extend beyond the classrooms and into library classes.”

DiGiulio registered each student at Fletcher for the program, presented the lessons, facilitated discussion and awarded each student a certificate signed by State Treasurer Beth Pearce.

This title was a favorite of the students: "The Soda Bottle School" by Seno Laura Kutner and Suzanne Slade

This title was a favorite of the students: “The Soda Bottle School” by Seno Laura Kutner and Suzanne Slade

According to DiGiulio, the Vermont State Treasurer’s Office provides the incentive for a 529 College Savings Account and students are selected by having their name drawn to win. “Having access to this account gives our students the opportunity to have funds for their future educational goals,” she said. “This program provides our students with an equal opportunity to have this college fund that will grow over the years as it adds to their repertoire of positive financial choices.”

Three Fletcher students also received recognition for their participation in the program’s “Be Money Wise” poster contest.

“It’s great to see students connecting a variety of disciplines and making meaning of their interconnectedness,” Literacy Teacher Leader Julie Steves said. “Reading and math go hand-in-hand so to use great books to teach financial concepts makes total sense.”

THE FWSU STORY: Fletcher Students Participate in “Sweet” Learning

Students in Miss Fecura’s first and second-grade classroom at Fletcher Elementary recently hit the road to tour three bustling Fletcher sugarhouses.

Each stop featured a thriving maple producer who is also a parent of a child in that classroom. The students are studying states of matter, and there is no sweeter way to observe the phenomenon first hand than to tap a Fletcher maple, collect the sap, and watch the transformation to sticky-sweet liquid gold.

Throughout the day, students each tapped their own maple tree, first learning how to identify the proper trees and tap sites. They hung buckets, learned about the importance of sugar content, studied the reverse osmosis process, heard about tap lines and how they are set up, and were in awe of the hard work and long hours it takes to produce maple syrup.

At each stop, students sampled maple treats like maple cream on crackers, maple candy, and of course, maple syrup itself. Students also learned about sustainability, seeing how many sugarhouses use the byproduct of syrup-making to clean their equipment.

They learned about the many regulations that govern syrup production, and the importance of specific weather in producing a bumper crop.


THE FWSU STORY: Fletcher Students “Harvest” New Food Learning

Kimchi and maple glazed carrots may not ordinarily be selections one would expect to find on a school lunch menu, but a new program at the Fletcher Elementary School is tantalizing the taste buds of students and helping them learn about the nutritional and economic value of local foods.


The Vermont Harvest of the Month program supports seasonal eating, healthy diets, and the local economy, by highlighting a different food at the school each month. In February, students learned about cabbage and sampled a variety of kimchi recipes. Earlier this week, maple syrup was spotlighted and students enjoyed maple glazed carrots. Each of the featured selections is purchased from a local grower, and presented to students by The Abbey Group, the school’s foodservice contractor, along with fun facts and nutritional information.

“The Harvest of the Month was designed to give fruits, vegetables and other local produce some exposure,” Abbey Group Executive Vice President and USDA Nutrition Specialist Scott Choiniere said. “The idea was to have restaurants, grocery stores, schools and other institutions promoting the same vegetable or fruit for the month.”


Fletcher Elementary is part of the Franklin West Supervisory Union, which has formed a cutting-edge committee known as the Whole-School, Community Child Committee. The group focuses on health education, nutrition environment and services, employee wellness, family engagement and community involvement. It is facilitated by Bonnie Poe, a long-time educator, and former Fletcher School principal. Tara McMahon, School Nurse, and Sandra Simmons, School Counselor, represent Fletcher on the committee.

Vermont Harvest of the Month is organized by three non-profit groups and offers free ready-to-use materials to classrooms, cafeterias and the community. The resources include printable posters, educational lesson plans, recipes and a suggested reading list that allow connections between classroom learning and tastings, which take place during students’ lunch period.


“Exposing students to new foods, foods found locally, and new recipes, offers opportunities to make choices about what to eat that will have a long-term impact on their health,” Poe said. “New food choices and new recipes can eliminate the boredom of eating the same things every day or week.”

According to Poe, the Vermont Harvest of the Month Program provides schools an opportunity to address standards from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a group founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation to combat childhood obesity and support children in sustaining lifelong, healthy habits. The Alliance encourages schools to offer three additional servings of vegetables per week, a different fruit every day, fresh fruit at least weekly, address cultural diversity through food, provide whole grains and to offer a legume-based food at least weekly.


“The program provides an opportunity for students to learn about their community and the impact it has on them now and in the long term,” Poe said. “It supports healthy decisions in the future and cam promote better school attendance, better grades, increased focus and more energy.”

“Harvest of the Month is important because we get to try new foods,” fifth-grader Ava Ardovino said. “The maple carrots were really good.”

“The benefit of this program is to learn new things about yourself like which foods you like and you don’t like. It’s better to look back and know you tried something than to say you wish you had tried it,” fifth-grader Hailey Zamuda said.


“You are never going to know if you like something or not until you try it,” fifth-grader Anna Villeneuve said.

Each month’s food selection is also featured on the school’s lunch and breakfast menu.

While the Vermont Harvest of the Month program is open to schools, restaurants, farms or businesses, starting this year individuals can take the pledge and participate from home. Participants are encouraged to submit their photos and taste test results on the group’s website.

Radishes, mixed greens, winter squash and sweet potato are among the foods to be featured in the coming months.

Read more about Harvest of the Month.

THE FWSU STORY: Fletcher Celebrates World Read-Aloud Day

Students at the Fletcher Elementary School recently celebrated the joys of reading by participating in World Read Aloud Day (WRAD). Established by LitWorld International, WRAD is an event that celebrates people across the globe reading and sharing books together while advocating for literacy for all.


World Read Aloud Day is a celebration of literacy in many forms: reading books aloud, favorite books and book characters, celebrating authors and illustrators, and connecting with readers around the world.


In Fletcher, several classrooms hosted celebrity readers who shared a cherished book to read aloud. Mr. Dodge, Mrs. Locke, Mrs. Steves, and a Fletcher parent were among the special guest readers who shared in the celebration of great books!


To help promote World Read Aloud Day, a whole group of book authors offered free virtual visits with schools. Fletcher 6th graders visited with the amazing author, Casey Lyall, who connected with them from her home in Canada. Ms. Lyall read to the students from her books and engaged in an engaging question and answer session with the students.


Another wonderful connection took place when several classes visited with Pennsylvania children’s book author, Mara Rockliff, who talked with students via a web connection. These author visits were incredible opportunities for students to engage with a professional author and share World Read Aloud Day globally.


In library-based art classes, all students listened to a read-aloud book and created a picture of their favorite book character. The characters became the focus of a library bulletin board where they are bounding out of a giant book! World Read Aloud Day was a great time for enjoying and sharing the love of reading for our students.



Emily DiGiulio is the Library Media and Technology Specialist at Fletcher Elementary School. Follow her on Twitter @Librologist .

THE FWSU STORY: For BFA Fairfax’s Isaac Collins, Leading by Example is the Name of the Game

For BFA Fairfax senior and soccer star Isaac Collins, setting a good example is his most important goal. Whether he’s inspiring his peers as captain of the soccer team or volunteering in his community as part of the National Honor Society, Collins says, “I like to lead by example.”


BFA Fairfax student and Fletcher Elementary graduate Isaac Collins likes to lead by example.

The renowned athlete and respected musician got his start at Fletcher Elementary, where he achieved success alongside eight classmates.

“It was a really, really small class and we all knew each other and were best friends. Some of us still are,” Collins said of his early educational years. “We had a lot of good times together.”

While Collins says he enjoyed “most everything” about his schooling in Fletcher, he recalls being particularly motivated by music class in fourth grade.

“The teacher made it the best,” he said. “I really enjoy music now and play guitar and sing. That fourth-grade year in music really got me interested.”

Collins said he appreciated the tight-knit community the Fletcher School offered, something that he has also experienced in his middle and high school years at BFA Fairfax.

“I always remember the parents were really involved,” he said. “BFA is larger than Fletcher, but we’re still tight. I know everybody in my classes and my teachers know me personally. It’s just a comfortable environment.”


Collins left Fletcher for BFA in seventh grade, and he’s developed a positive reputation as a leader and good student ever since.

“Isaac is an accomplished student taking challenging AP courses, is an incredible athlete, and he is also a talented actor and musician,” BFA Fairfax teacher Sara Villeneuve said. “His peers adore his calm, patient, thoughtful demeanor. He always makes time for others and his community.”

Collins is well-known for his musical and vocal talents, which he often showcases at his school’s Coffee House events, where he also takes charge of the technical-set of equipment. He was his soccer team’s MVP during both his junior and senior years. The skilled athlete was also selected as a member of the 2017 Vermont All State High School Soccer Team, comprised of the best performing seniors that year.

While Collins acknowledges sports has taught him several life lessons, he also credits his parents and his faith for “giving me a solid set of morals like kindness and being humble.”

“A character trait that Isaac exemplifies is integrity,” Villeneuve said. “Isaac has strong moral principles and acts with honor and respect for others.”

Success runs in the Collins family. His sister is a senior in the nursing program at New York’s Elmira College. Both of his parents attended Vermont Technical College. His mother is a veterinary technician and his father is maintenance technician at Globalfoundries. Both have been successful in their fields for about 30 years.


Collins is committed to giving back to his community. He’s helped organize dinners and children’s events as part of his church, and has supported blood drives and individual service projects as part of National Honor Society, a group he describes as “being conscious of the community, looking out for people, and connecting with people that have similar interests and share your values.” He and a friend are currently planning a sports tournament from which the proceeds will be donated to a cancer charity.

Collins credits BFA Fairfax with giving him the communication skills to be successful across settings.

“For me, because of what I’ve learned here, it’s really easy to communicate with pretty much anybody or a group of people, “ Collins said.

That skill will be an important one for the aspiring communications and digital media major, who has already been accepted to two of the five colleges to which he’s applied.

“Sharing information by video and working technically really interests me,” Collins, who is considering broadcast journalism as a career,  said. “Education is important to me, as is personal expression in a variety of forms. This year, everybody was asking me what I was going to major in during college. I realized that my favorite part of all my classes at BFA was about sharing information.”

Collins is currently completing an independent study that focuses on videography and showcasing the extracurricular activities at his school.

“BFA offers the opportunity to work one-on-one with teachers,” Collins said. “You work very closely and I don’t think you would get as much of that at a larger school.”

Some might ask how Collins balances sports, academics, community service, friends, and family.

“He is able to find balance between these things,” Villeneuve said. “His peers see him participate in activities like this, in sports, philanthropic work, and his studies … and still find time for family.”


Collins’s care for the world is also reflected in his choice of music. “Paul Simon’s songwriting is incredible and the harmony when they sing is some of the best. Most important, though, is that you can find more meaning in Simon and Garfunkel lyrics than most of the other stuff. The message is important.”

Collins will continue visiting potential colleges this spring, before making a final decision. In the meantime, he plans to continue being a positive role model for those around him.

“Isaac Collins personifies the title of ‘student-athlete,’ BFA Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Geri Witalec-Krupa said. “His strength of character, attention to his studies, commitment to soccer, and all around positive demeanor make him an exceptional leader and role model in our school. He is an incredibly well-rounded young man as one of the most talented musicians, and athletes, at BFA Fairfax. Whether quietly leading by example, or being the vocal motivator, Isaac also possesses the ability to adjust his leadership style based on the environment and those around him. The traits he demonstrates on a daily basis will serve him well in all his future endeavors and successes.”

“I want to provide an example for younger people that don’t know exactly what they should be doing,” Collins said. “I want them, at any given point, in any situation, to be able to look to me and see a leader. Leading by example is really the most important thing to me.”

THE FWSU STORY: From Farming to Nursing, Fletcher’s Lydia Tinker is Always a Caretaker

From nurturing newborn calves on her family’s farm to professional nursing, at 17, Fletcher’s Lydia Tinker has accomplished far more than most students her age, and she doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.

Lydia Tinker, Fletcher Elementary graduate

Lydia Tinker, Fletcher Elementary graduate

Tinker started her academic career at the Fletcher Elementary School as a three-year-old preschool student and graduated sixth grade nine years later. After four years at BFA Fairfax, she transferred to the Allied Health program at the Green Mountain Technology and Career Center, in Hyde Park. Having graduated from that program with honors last year, she formally remains a student at Lamoille Union High School but participates off campus in the Community College of Vermont’s Early College Program.

During the Allied Health program at GMTCC, Tinker participated in 172 hours of community service, mostly supporting the elderly, but also completed 80 clinical hours at Copley Hospital and surrounding nursing homes as part of the requirements to become a Licensed Nursing Assistant. She also took French, just for good measure.

“The classes weren’t always easy and still aren’t,” Tinker said of courses like human biology, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology and bioethics. “And sometimes driving to St. Albans in the winter for late classes is hard.”

Tinker is already a Nationally Certified First Responder, Licensed Nursing Assistant, and Licensed Personal Care Attendant, though she cannot practice as a PCA until she turns 18 in April. Last November, she landed a nursing assistant job at Copley Hospital, where, between taking four college classes, she often works 12-hour shifts supporting the needs of a variety of patients.

“I like to help people and see them get better,” Tinker said of her motivation to enter the nursing profession. “I got really, really sick when I was in second grade and spent a week in the hospital and then several weeks at home. That’s when I decided to be a nurse. The nurses were always there for me and right then and there I knew that I wanted to be there for other people who needed my help.”

The work isn’t always easy. In addition to spending long shifts in the fast-paced healthcare profession, Tinker is also exposed to challenging work situations.

“Taking care of someone who is passing is very hard,” she said. “But I like being there for them.”

She credits her sixth-grade teacher with helping her make up her missed learning as a result of falling ill.

“I remember being in a class of eight boys and me,” Tinker chuckled. That taught me to stand up for myself. I struggled with math and reading but Mr. Sweet stayed after school to help me.” Tinker recalled fondly the support she received in her formative years.

Tinker had another built-in support at the school. Her grandmother, Sharon Tinker, has been the administrative assistant there for many years.

“One day I got in trouble and my punishment was to sit with my grandma all day,” she laughed. “That really wasn’t much of a punishment if you ask me.”

Tinker has always lived in Fletcher. Her father, Jason, works on the family farm and her mother, Jennifer, is a hair stylist.

“Definitely, the farm work makes you have a really strong work ethic,” Tinker said of helping out with all aspects of farm life. “I can go and do nursing for 12 hours and still be fine. Farming definitely teaches you to be dependable.”

Certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid, Tinker is also trained to recognize the warning signs of adolescents at risk of committing suicide, abusing drugs, or participating in other risky behaviors.

A current CCV Dean’s List student, Tinker is an accomplished scholar. She was admitted entrance to the National Honor Society in high school, the National Technical Honor Society while she attended GMTC, and is a current member of CCV’s Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa. She received the Committed Learner Award from her Allied Health Program and, upon graduation from that program, she was awarded the $500 Martha A. Schwarz Memorial Scholarship. The award is presented to a highly successful student who is pursuing a post-secondary degree in nursing.

As for advice for today’s students, Tinker suggests, “Try to stay on the straight and narrow, especially online. Everybody is on social media today. One wrong post can cost you a job or entry into a school. Kids don’t stop to think about that in time, sometimes.”

Tinker will attend Vermont Technical College’s nursing program in the fall and plans to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing and licensure as a Registered Nurse. She has already received a college scholarship because of her academic success.

“In five years I will be done with college and working as an RN in labor and delivery,” Tinker said with a confident smile. “If somebody tells you no, there’s always a different way. I just say, watch me.”

Tinker will graduate from Lamoille Union High School in June. She will have accumulated 38 college credits towards her nursing degree.

THE FWSU STORY: Prehistoric Giants Teach Fletcher Students About History and Science

Three prehistoric beasts took the Fletcher Elementary School gym by storm Monday. The brightly colored larger-than-life guests were part of the Dinosaur Science Series, educational programming infused with engaging antics, that is the brainchild of paleontologist and comedian Bob Lisaius, otherwise known as Dinoman.

Fletcher Elementary School third grader, Serein, assists paleontologist and comedian Bob "Dinoman" Lisaius by holding a "dinosaur egg" during a whole-school presentation on Monday.

Fletcher Elementary School third-grader, Serein, assists paleontologist and comedian Bob “Dinoman” Lisaius by holding a “dinosaur egg” during a whole-school presentation on Monday.

Dressed in a multi-pocket vest and tan hat, Lisaius, burst onto the scene in Fletcher Monday in full explorer regalia, taking students through a spirited history of dinosaurs and the earth, supported by the use of props such as an actual meteor fragment, dinosaur skull, teeth and feces, as well as a variety of fossils.

Dinoman, a.k.a. Warren, VT-resident Bob Lisaius, uses a clothesline and stuffed animals to teach Fletcher students about the Mesozoic Era and the creatures that lived at that time.

Dinoman, a.k.a. Warren, VT-resident Bob Lisaius, uses a clothesline and stuffed animals to teach Fletcher students about the Mesozoic Era and the creatures that lived at that time.

With student volunteers holding each end of the line, Lisaius used a clothesline adorned with various stuffed creatures to create a historical timeline that illustrated the history of dinosaurs and major events that impacted their existence. Working his way from one end to the other, Lisaius chronicled the life and plight of some of earth’s biggest inhabitants.

Comedian and paleontologist Bob Lisaius uses a balloon and skewer to demonstrate how oxygen traveled through dinosaur eggs in order to reach the developing young.

Comedian and paleontologist Bob Lisaius uses a balloon and skewer to demonstrate how oxygen traveled through dinosaur eggs in order to reach the developing young.

The experience culminated when three life-sized inflatable dinosaurs came to life, the largest reaching the gym ceiling and towering over students with a watchful, toothy grin.

“They looked so big and real,” second-grader Harrison Frennier said of the creatures. “For a minute I had to remind myself that they were full of air and that we weren’t back in the olden days. They looked like they might start chasing us at any second and we would have to run for our lives. It was so real.”


Bob “Dinoman” Lisaius holds a dinosaur tooth for Fletcher Elementary School students to view during a presentation on dinosaurs Monday.

Two of the inflatable dinosaurs were made by the prop-maker of Jimmy Buffett’s stage sets, while the third was made by Lisaius himself, who lives in Warren, VT, and travels the country doing hundreds of shows from his Dinoman Science Series each year. The real-life paleontologist and funny man offered up a witty blend of sass and science that the students found riveting.


Fletcher Elementary School fifth-grader, Bryant, along with paleontologist and comedian Bob “Dinoman” Lisaius, demonstrate how a Tyrannosaurus Rex balances on two legs with its very short arms.

“Engaging students requires a whole new set of skills today,” STEM Teacher Leader Denette Locke said. “You have to infuse really engaging experiences with very targeted learning. Dinoman kept our students’ attention with humor, silliness and amazing props, but also taught them a lot of important information about history at the same time. It was a great combination of learning and fun.”

Fletcher Elementary School fifth grader, Bryant, and Bob "Dinoman" Lisaius, demonstrate how a Tyrannosaurus Rex balanced on two feet.

Fletcher Elementary School fifth-grader, Bryant, and Bob “Dinoman” Lisaius demonstrate how a Tyrannosaurus Rex balanced on two feet.

The 45-minute show transported the audience through the Mesozoic Era, which took place between 66 and 252 million years ago. It is also known as the “age of the reptiles.” Divided into the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, the Mesozoic Era is well known in modern history as the backdrop for Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park series of films in which dinosaurs break free from an amusement park and go on the hunt for humans.

Warren, VT-based paleontologist and comedian Bob "Dinoman" Lisaius stands in front of one of three inflatable dinosaurs used during a presentation at the Fletcher Elementary School on Monday.

Warren, VT-based paleontologist and comedian Bob “Dinoman” Lisaius stands in front of one of three inflatable dinosaurs used during a presentation at the Fletcher Elementary School on Monday.

“Back then life was nothing like how it is now,” sixth-grader Logan king said. “Most of the creatures that lived then have either died off or changed a lot. They had to adapt a lot to survive. The dinosaurs might have some ancestors here now, but the dinosaurs themselves are all gone.”


Lisaius and his dinosaurs have been on perpetual tour for the past several years, receiving rave reviews from critics including those at the LA Times and Wall Street Journal.


“This really brought science to life for our students,” Locke said. “Textbooks, and even films can’t replace a life-sized dinosaur coming to life right before your eyes. This is something our students won’t ever forget.


Students at the Fletcher Elementary School learned about dinosaurs Monday with paleontologist and comedian Bob “Dinoman” Lisaius. Here, Dinoman uses one of three inflatable dinosaurs to bring the presentation to life.