The FWSU Story: Crayola Grant Helps Fletcher Students Get Creative

Fletcher Elementary is one of 20 schools nationwide to receive the 2019 Champion Creatively Alive Children Grant from Crayola and the National Association of Elementary School Principals. The grant provides $2500 cash to support the arts and $1000 worth of Crayola art supplies. 

“This grant affirms Fletcher’s dedication to being on the cutting edge of arts integration,” art teacher MC Baker said. “Through art, we teach math, literacy, science, creativity and a variety of other academic and social skills. Art has such potential to span the entire curriculum, to create spectacular connections, and we are incredibly thankful that the funding and materials from Crayola will allow us to expand our commitment to arts integration in the future.”

Baker, along with kindergarten teacher Cathy O’Brien and first and second grade teacher Katheen Pellegrino, authored the grant request, which asks students to think about how they can make the world a better place. Entitled, Personalized Global Projects, the grant asks students to design and participate in art based one or more of four focusing Global Goals that include reducing inequities, good health and well-being, quality education, and peace, justice and strong institutions. As part of the project, each student will create an artist’s statement around one of the Global Goals and consider the impact they can have on solving the problem.

Created by world leaders in 2015, the 17 Global Goals aim to make the world a better place through international collaboration. In addition to the goals that focus Fletcher’s current grant work, the Global Goals include 13 additional efforts such as gender equity, ending hunger and poverty and protecting the environment. 

“The arts play an essential role in supporting students’ exploration of these broad, global ideas,” Baker said. “Through drawing, painting, design and other creative outlets, students can process the significance of world issues in a developmentally appropriate way and think about solutions and how they can help.”

Fletcher has also connected the grant project with its schoolwide behavior approach, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), within which four schoolwide expectations to be respectful, responsible, safe and caring encourage a positive culture on a more local level. Using materials from the grant, students creatively decorated both large and small stones as part of the Kindness Rocks Project. The smaller stones, called palm stones, were exchanged school wide before Thanksgiving break so that each student received a stone to take home while celebrating thankfulness. Students and staff transformed the song, Rock you, to become Rock you, With Kindness, for the exchange (see video). Students wrapped their stones in small gift boxes adorned with ribbons and designs before the exchange. Larger stones will be displayed and placed outside in the spring.

“Doing acts of kindness regularly actually has a scientific impact on the chemistry of the brain,” Fletcher School Counselor Lisa Coale said. “Through the act of intentionally being kind to others the body creates endorphins that activate the areas of the brain that are linked to social connection and trust.”

According to Coale, highlighting kindness, as a theme for the school, sends the important message to students that simple acts of treating each other well has a ripple effect that not only benefits their overall happiness and wellbeing, but contributes to the happiness and wellbeing of the greater community and world. 

“Beyond increased social connection and trust, my hope is that by focusing on kindness we will also see students feeling less stressed,” Coale said. “We know that when children and adults alike feel connected, safe, loved and accepted, their brains are better able to think creatively, process information effectively and regulate their thoughts and emotions more consistently.”

“The Crayola grant allowed us to bring the kindness theme together with art for a common goal by providing the materials needed to design the stones and gift boxes,” Baker said. “This is an incredible partnership between Crayola, our art program and our school’s efforts to create a welcoming, positive environment while also thinking about issues that impact the word globally.”

Students’ projects will be on display at the school’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) Night in the spring.

“Having new art supplies is very motivating,” sixth grader Colin Wolfe said. “You get to enjoy making really special art and think about how you can help other people around the world at the same time. Those two things kind of go hand-in-hand. It’s like making beautiful art with a bigger purpose than just looking good. It’s about saving the world. I think Fletcher School can do that. I really do.”

Christopher Dodge is the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @FletcherFalcon

The FWSU Story: Fletcher Elementary Hosts Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s “Fanfare” Brass Trio

On Monday, November 4, Fanfare, the Brass Trio of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, performed before a school-wide audience and several community members at Fletcher Elementary School. 

For over three decades, Fanfare has toured the state, performing in town halls and other local settings. Through their annual school performances, they introduce hundreds of elementary school students to brass instruments each year. Current trio members include Glendon Ingalls on trumpet, Ron Wold on horn and Bear Irwin on trombone. 

“It was a great concert,” first grader Mateo GraffBell said. “They played songs and then taught us stuff and then played more songs and then taught us again.”

Fanfare’s performance included a variety of musical styles plus demonstrations of how the instruments produce their sounds and how each one has changed over time. 

“My favorite part was when they used a long garden hose and a funnel to show us exactly how brass instruments work,” GraffBell said. “Those instruments would be very long if you unwound them like the hose.”

In addition, audience members had an opportunity to ask questions of the performers. The program used a unique blend of old and new music, serious and popular, to produce a lively and informative concert.

The performance was part of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s SymphonyKids education program, which reached over 18,750 school children last year with 262 presentations in 131 Vermont schools. It was made possible and cost-free by a grant from the George W. Mergens Foundation.

“Part of our obligation as teachers includes helping students realize opportunities for lifelong learning beyond the school walls,” third and fourth grade teacher Tracey Godin said. “The great thing about having the trio here was that our students can begin to learn an instrument and play in the school band now, as elementary school students, and potentially continue that experience beyond Fletcher in middle and high school and into their adult lives.”

“I never even knew that you could have your job be playing an instrument as a professional,” fourth grader Faye Hood said. “Or that playing an instrument involves so much math. They have to practice and study a lot to get this good but it pays off because they get to travel around and share everything they know with other people.”

Christopher Dodge is the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @FletcherFalcon

FWSU Seeks Superintendent of Schools

The Franklin West Supervisory Union (FWSU) Board seeks a full-time Superintendent to begin July 1, 2020. The previous Franklin West Superintendent approached this position with an ambition and vision that has made FWSU an active part of the global community. Within our three schools, this leadership created a culture of education that focuses on giving our students the tools they will need to create solutions for the problems of tomorrow by engaging in authentic learning today. The FWSU community is seeking a candidate that can continue to lead Franklin West with the same amount of energy, creativity, and vision, focusing on a “belief in what is possible.”

Located in beautiful Franklin County, Vermont, FWSU is pleased to serve the thriving communities of Fairfax, Fletcher, and Georgia by providing innovative, personalized public education for over 1,700 students. Franklin West Supervisory Union is comprised of three member school districts and serves Bellows Free Academy Fairfax (PreK-12), Georgia Elementary & Middle School (PreK-8), and Fletcher Elementary School (PreK-6). A leader in #VTED, FWSU is proud to be an Apple Distinguished Program, be recognized as a P21 21st Century Learning Exemplar District and an IVECA Distinguished Global School District, and an inductee into the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools.

Georgia Elementary & Middle School 4th Graders Work Through Design Process

SUPERINTENDENT LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT NEEDS

  • Bring to the FWSU a vision that will continue to foster the progressive goals of the SU and its individual districts.
  • Oversee the management and supervision of the Supervisory Union Central Office and its wide variety of financial, operational, and educational functions.
  • Provide supervision to and support of the leadership team (which represent the elementary, middle, and high schools in the supervisory union) so that the administration and staff of each school are inspired to maintain their focus and commitment to supervisory union and building-based goals for continuous improvement; special emphasis includes orientation, support and development of two principals who will be completing their first year in the SU.
  • Instill and maintain a positive, supportive working relationship with school boards based on shared values of transparency, effective communication, and collaborative problem solving.
  • Lead negotiations for collective bargaining agreements.
  • Create, modify, and oversee significant technology initiatives.
  • Conduct ambassadorial work on community-school relations.
  • Offer fresh eyes and insights on the SU for administrative and/or board consideration.
  • Demonstrate currency and experience in the areas of Vermont policy, law, union relations, and AoE interfaces.
  • Have specific knowledge, understanding and insight into state-wide AoE priorities.
BFA Fairfax Gr 6-7 Band and Chorus Celebrate “Superior” Ratings at Trills and Thrills

PERFORMANCE RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Carry out the policies adopted by the school board relating to the educational or business affairs of the school district.
  • Identify the educational goals and objectives of the school district and prepare plans to achieve those goals and objectives for adoption by the school board.
  • Recommend that the school board employ or dismiss persons as necessary to carry out the work of the school district.
  • Furnish the Secretary of Education data and information required by the Agency of Education.
  • Provide for the general supervision of the public schools in the supervisory union.
  • Act as link of communication among Board, schools within district (including staff, parents and students), and community members/groups. Maintains relationships with Agency of Education.
  • Organize, prepare for, and attend Board meetings as needed. Submit recommendations along with essential documentation that will assist the Board in making decisions. Alerts Board on all matters that require approval (policy changes, master agreements, etc) to ensure legal compliance. Develop and recommend long-range plans and vision for the school district which are consistent with Board objectives. See to the execution of all decisions of the Board.
  • Hire, supervise, and evaluate FWSU and school administrators. Conduct meetings supporting and directing Administrators as needed.
  • Oversee educational program with Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment on short and long term curriculum goals.
  • Assures school districts follow necessary state guidelines regarding Education Quality Standards and the Vermont Comprehensive Assessment Program.
  • In support of the Director of Support Services, assure appropriate programs are in place for students with disabilities and directs Administrator when needed.
  • Assure adequate records for the schools, including a system of financial accounts, business and property records, personnel records, school population and scholastic records. Act as custodian of such records and all contracts, securities, documents, title papers, books of records, and other papers belonging to the Board.
  • Be directly responsible for news releases and/or other items of public interest emanating from all District employees that pertain to education matters, policies, procedures, school related incidents or events. Approve media interviews of this nature with District employees. Acts as spokesperson as necessary.
  • Oversees Business Manager in areas of budget operations and annual/quarterly reporting. Confirms annual proposed budget and submits it to the Board. Assures all funds, physical assets, and other property of the District are appropriately safeguarded and administered by the Business Manager.
  • Assure effective relations with employees/organizations; assume ultimate responsibility for collective negotiations with employees of the District. Conducts negotiations with union(s) regarding contracts, disciplinary issues, master agreements, etc.
  • Assures proper licensure for all districts, including accurate contract offerings.
  • Ensure a safe and educational environment for all learners.
BFA Fairfax 8th Graders at Boston Science Museum

REPORTS TO Franklin West Supervisory Union Board of Directors

EVALUATION Performance in this position will be supervised and evaluated by the FWSU Board of Directors.

SUPERVISES/EVALUATES Supervises all school and district administrators and staff; evaluates all FWSU Administrators, School Principals, Executive Assistant.

Job Requirements

  • The successful candidate will possess:
    • A proven record of accomplishment as an educational leader
    • A solid vision for creating 21st Century learning environments in our schools
    • Comprehensive understanding of best practices in curriculum/instruction
    • Knowledge of Vermont education law
    • Exceptional communication and human relation skills
    • Innovative problem-solving and effective decision-making abilities
    • Superior planning/organization/time-management skills
    • Demonstrated capital and fiscal management experience
    • Healthy sense of humor
  • Evidence of Vermont licensure as superintendent of schools or being appropriately licensed on or before the first day of employment.
  • Salary will depend on experience.
The famous BFA Fairfax Senior Walk through the halls of the Elementary School

Franklin West is a strong and functional supervisory union known for its progressive and forward-thinking approach to learning. The SU’s vision and direction is well established, and the result of this is a highly student-centric organization that has earned the respect and support of its communities, as well as national and international recognition. Teachers work collaboratively, staff is committed to student learning, and the administrative team consists of both relatively new and veteran members. Individual boards thoughtfully govern their respective districts, which then work together to create equity across the SU. This is an exciting opportunity to lead a high-quality district committed to partnering with its schools and communities, to influence education for its students and staff in a positive way.

Fletcher Elementary STEAM Night Focuses on Sustainable Development

For More Information and to Apply, click here to view the listing on SchoolSpring.

Partnership for 21st Century Learning logo

The FWSU Story: Fletcher Elementary Named PBIS Exemplar School for Second Year

For the second consecutive year, Fletcher Elementary has earned Exemplar status as a Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) School. The designation was awarded by the state level VTPBIS Team of the Vermont Agency of Education and the UVM Center on Disability and Community Inclusion Collaboration at the annual PBIS Forum in Killington on October 10. Fletcher’s PBIS Coordinator and School Counselor, Lisa Coale, accepted the award on behalf of the school.

“We are excited to have the hard work of our students and staff recognized at the Exemplar level again this year,” Coale said. “Creating a respectful, responsible, safe and caring school climate is a priority at Fletcher and the results not only create a more positive environment for all learners, but pave the way for increased academic teaching and learning time, as well.”

Exemplar designation represents the highest of three tiers of PBIS recognition and affirms Fletcher School’s unwavering commitment to supporting a positive school climate. Of the 156 Vermont schools using the PBIS approach, Fletcher was one of only 28 schools that received Exemplar status this year. Slightly more than half of Vermont schools and about one in three schools across the US use the PBIS approach. Fletcher school is in it’s sixth full year of PBIS implementation. 

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is an approach to creating proactive, school-wide systems that support students’ behavioral and academic success. It begins with the teaching, modeling, and practicing of school-wide behavior expectations with all students and staff and a formal system of recognition when students meet those expectations and supports when challenges arise. The Fletcher School has created clear and concise behavior expectations for each physical area of the school, on the school buses and for field trips. The school emphasizes respectful, responsible, safe and caring behaviors.These school-wide expectations are modeled and taught to students throughout the year. Individual classroom and school-wide successes are recognized and celebrated regularly. 

The school’s PBIS Team uses data from classroom and office behavior referrals to identify students, locations around the school, times of day, problem behaviors and other demographics needing additional support. Behavior data is provided to families throughout the year as part of parent conferences. 

Students are intermittently recognized when they meet school-wide expectations. The recognition comes in the form of small wooden “falcon” tokens, representing the school mascot. Tokens accumulated in classrooms and other locations around the school result in class and school-wide celebrations.

“Being data-driven is an important part of the PBIS approach,” Coale said. “We track both major and minor behavior referrals and gather information such as the perceived motivation, location, time of day, type of behavior, and more. Using specific information allows us to more precisely target our interventions and supports.”

The school also involves families in the PBIS approach. During Open House, families were given tokens to give to participations whom they spotted meeting the school-wide expectations. The school also sends home tokens before school vacations and encourages families to award them at home, keeping up the momentum of positive behavior across settings and when students are away from school.

Coale has even engaged students in analyzing their own PBIS behavior data. Last year, fourth and fifth graders identified celebrations and challenges in their class-wide behavior, speculated on the root causes, and suggested solutions.

In 2014, the Fletcher School was designated a Vermont PBIS School of Recognition based on its strategic use of data to support student behavior, celebrating school-wide and individual successes and working to support behavioral challenges, as well as noted decrease in behavior issues overall. In the following three years, the school received the PBIS School of Merit designation based on a continuation of that work, as well as receiving exceptional scores on its state-conducted school-wide evaluation of its PBIS implementation. This year’s Exemplar designation, the second in two years, recognizes both a continued decrease in rule-breaking behaviors and an increase in academic performance and comes following a rigorous selection process that included documenting both improved behaviors and increased academic achievement.

“Fletcher is a ‘go to’ school for model PBIS practices and implementation fidelity. They are truly an Exemplar school, and they should be very proud of the recognition for the work they have done on behalf of their students to ensure safe and responsive learning environments,” FWSU Director of Curriculum Linda Keating said. 

In addition to receiving the Exemplar designation, members of Fletcher’s PBIS Leadership Team presented to schools from around the state on parent engagement and student voice at the annual statewide PBIS Forum. 

“As a classroom teacher, I’ve noticed substantially more positive behaviors since I started using the PBIS approach,” third and fourth grade teacher Tracey Godin said. “Students understand what our schoolwide expectations look and sound like across locations and because of that they just behave more positively and responsibly. The time we have put into modeling and teaching behaviors has given rise to a community that cares about each other.”

Christopher Dodge is the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @FletcherFalcon

The FWSU Story: Fletcher School and Cambridge Fire Department Partner For Student Safety

October is Fire Safety Month and Fletcher Elementary School has teamed up with the Cambridge Fire Department to bring fire safety lessons to students both at school and at home. 

According to firefighter Kristy Wyckoff, who is also the department’s treasurer and chair of the fire prevention committee, teaching fire prevention at an early age is essential because it creates connections between the children and firefighters that help students not be afraid of the firefighters in the event of a real emergency. 

“Fires can be scary and we want the kids to know that we are there to help,” Wyckoff said. 

For several years, Wyckoff, along with a team of firefighters from the all-volunteer Cambridge Fire Department, have taught fire safety lessons at the school during a designated fire safety day in October. The lessons include a discussion about creating a home fire escape plan, the importance of smoke detectors and their maintenance, and fire prevention. Students interact with firefighters who don nearly 50 pounds of protective gear that makes them virtually unrecognizable in an effort to dismiss any fear the students might have about their unusual appearance. 

“My main goals are for the kids to learn something new each year,” Wyckoff said. “Our biggest components are learning about smoke detectors, including when to change the batteries and when to replace the entire detector. We also focus on escape plans and meeting places, encourage getting out and staying out during a fire, and sleeping with bedroom doors shut.”

In addition to Fire Safety Day, Fletcher Elementary created a smoke detector giveaway this year. Cambridge Fire Department and J&L Hardware each donated smoke detectors to be given away to Fletcher families. Students were asked to complete at least two of three suggested fire safety activities at home with their families. Once done, students and their families documented their work and were entered into a drawing for a free smoke detector. The school is giving one smoke detector away each day during October, Fire safety month. The daily drawing takes place during school-wide morning announcements. 

“The smoke detector giveaway is a great way of getting detectors into our community. And, projects like this are important because it brings the learning home in a practical sense,” Wyckoff said. “Most people are unaware that smoke detectors expire after ten years. The fire department bought the detectors using funds from our yearly fundraising events. We feel it’s important to get unexpired detectors into homes. Our hope is that it will inspire families to check the dates on their own smoke detectors to ensure they are not older than ten years.”

According to Wyckoff, students have responded with great enthusiasm and an eagerness to share what they have learned in previous years. 

“Their favorite part of fire prevention is Rollie, our robotic fire truck,” Wyckoff said.  “Their response to Rollie has been overwhelmingly positive. Rollie adds a new exciting way to learn about fire prevention.” Using robotics, firefighters can speak through rollie’s speakers, squirt water, and control flashing red lights. 

During fire safety day, students received junior firefighter helmets and backpacks filled with fire prevention goodies like pencils, trading cards, notebooks and pencil sharpeners and erasers.

“I’ve learned fire safety from the firefighters for five years now,” fourth grader Donovan Austin said. “Every year there is something different. You have to remember to test your smoke detector batteries once a month and change them every year. That is one of the most important things you can do. You can also feel a door before you open it to see if it feels warm. If it does, don’t open it because there may be fire on the other side.”

“When there is fire you have to stay low,” fourth grader Will Mauck advised. “Gasses, heat and smoke all rise. You don;t want to be breathing those in. Also, if your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop, cover your face and roll like mad. That puts the fire out.”

“Something new I learned this year is that smoke detectors all beep three times in a row to tell you that there is smoke and maybe a fire,” third graders Lorelei Sloan said. “You need to get out quickly and go to your family meeting place. Make sure you have a fire escape plan ahead of time.”

“There are so many mutual benefits to engaging with Community Partners like the Cambridge Fire Department,” FWSU Director of Curriculum Linda Keating said. “Such partnerships allow schools to expand their education efforts, raise community awareness of such efforts, and most importantly, with this project, support the safety of children and families.”

“Nothing gets the attention of young elementary students more than firefighters and firetrucks,” first and second grade teacher Kathleen Pellegrino said. “These men and women are great role models to show our students just how important it is to give back to your community and make responsible decisions. Being safe is one of our four schoolwide expectations and the firefighters’ visit is one more way to reinforce how important that is.”

For more information on fire safety and Fletcher’s smoke detector giveaway, visit www.fletcherelementary.org  or read our family smoke detector giveaway letter.

Christopher Dodge is the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @FletcherFalcon

The FWSU Story: Fletcher Elementary Students Dig Into Learning

Fletcher Elementary School students learn the techniques necessary to carefully and precisely conduct an archaeological dig. The students joined a team of archaeologists from the Northeast Archaeological Research Center as they conducted a dig along the Lamoille River in Fletcher.

Students at Fletcher Elementary School really dug into their learning on Sept. 20 as they supported archaeologists from the Northeast Archaeology Research Center at a dig site just miles from the school. The adventure was part of a year-long theme that focuses student learning on Vermont’s past and present. 

Fletcher Elementary School third grader Koda Chipman holds an arrowhead discovered as part of an archaeological dig in Fletcher. The school’s third through sixth graders assisted a team from the Northeast Archaeological Research Center on Sept. 19.

Third through six grade students from the school learned about the techniques and equipment used to conduct a professional dig, how to catalog their findings, and the many reasons individuals and groups participate in the work. In this instance, the group is helping Green Mountain Power meet its legal requirements as part of a permit renewal process. As the company raises and lowers water levels at their nearby dam, the question remains if important historical objects underground are being lost.

Fletcher Elementary School fourth grader Stephen Duchaine assists an archaeologist from the Northeast Archaeological Research Center in sifting through soil collected as part of an archaeological dig near the school. From the site, the team collected arrowheads, pottery, heat-cracked stones, and jewelry from over 1500 years ago. 

Students reviewed objects found at the site like arrowheads, earthenware and fire-cracked stones from about 1500 years ago before getting their hands dirty by helping to dig and sift the soil and watch for new discoveries.

Students from Fletcher Elementary School sift through soil that was excavated as part of an archaeological dig by the Northeast Archaeology Research Center. Participation in the dig was part of the students’ study of Vermont, past and present.

“Getting to see the old stuff, like the firestone and the arrowhead and part of a tool from a long time ago, was the best,” sixth grader Justus Cota said. “It was great to be learning about history in an all-hands-on way.”

An arrowhead was found in Fletcher as part of an archaeological dig. Students at Fletcher Elementary assisted professional archaeologists at the dig site on Sept. 20. 

“We actually got to help,” sixth grader Eli Tinker said. “We learned how and why everything was happening and really got to understand it way more than we would from a book or a video.”

Fletcher Elementary School students examine an object found as part of an archaeological dig in town. Archaeologists from the Northeast Archaeology Research Center worked with the students to teach the process of discovering buried objects from the past. 

“It was just really fascinating,” sixth grader Colin Wolfe said. “It was like history coming to life before our eyes. The soil was telling us a story and I couldn’t wait to hear the next part.”

Christopher Dodge is the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @FletcherFalcon

The FWSU Story: New School Year, New Beginnings, New Teachers in FWSU

A new school year is full of excitement for all returning educators, and in FWSU the first day of school is the best day of the year. But teachers who are brand new to FWSU get a 2-day preview of what FWSU is all about, along with lunch and tour of their home school well before that first day. When you are starting a new job, it’s a pretty great way to get off to a positive start.

We are so fortunate that FWSU attracts so many skilled and talented educators. So it is important that they have a chance to find out just how special our schools are, and that they have chosen well. Our FWSU schools and our educators share high expectations for teaching and learning, and along with that, we are collectively inspired by “a belief in what is possible.”

After some great food, gift bags, and welcome greetings from administrators from the Central Office and across the district, the learning begins. Some of the critical foundations they get a chance to learn about and experience during the 2-day orientation are systems-approaches to PBIS, MTSS, Technology Integration, Equity, All Learners Universal Frameworks, and creating Trauma-Sensitive Classrooms. In addition, they get to know a bit about our 3 schools and the pride that we share in being part of Franklin West Supervisory Union.  

The culmination of this mid-August orientation is a trip to their home schools that includes lunch, time with their principals, mentors, and mentor coordinators, and a Welcome Home tour of the school. 

Linda Keating

Linda Keating is the Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment at Franklin West Supervisory Union. She is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow her on Twitter @Educate4ward