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: 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.


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.  


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.


THE FWSU STORY: New Teachers Celebrate the Year and Reflect on Resilience

Each year during the month of May, FWSU takes the opportunity to celebrate the work and learning of our new teachers and their mentors.

New Teachers and their mentors reflect on the year.

New Teachers and their mentors reflect on the year.


New Teachers discuss their experiences over the past year with their colleagues.

The year’s focus was on “Wellness Strategies to Promote Joy” in our classrooms and in the profession. In our last Professional Practice forum, new teachers worked on a personal legacy statement. During our final celebration, new educators shared those “legacies” with their mentors in a one-word summary.

In addition to delicious food, friendly conversation, and legacy sharing, we ended the year as we began in August, working with Dr. Joelle Van Lent, PsyD.


This time, her message centered on maintaining compassion satisfaction as resilient teachers. She urged new teachers and mentors to be mindful of creating balance between satisfaction and fatigue to support a healthy professional quality of life. She provided participants with useful suggestions to support that balance.

This year’s cohort also received a copy of Self-Care for Teachers, a helpful resource to extend their learning.


As the year winds to a close, we are grateful to our new Teachers and their mentors for their perseverance and commitment, and we thank them for their many positive contributions to our schools. We wish all of our educators a restful, rejuvenating, and JOYFUL summer break!

Linda Keating

Linda Keating is the Director of Curriculum at FWSU. She is a regular contributor to the FWSU Blog. You can follow her on Twitter @Educate4ward

THE FWSU STORY: School Board Chairs Learn Together

This week the three school board chairs of the schools that comprise FWSU spent the day together learning. The professional development opportunity was sponsored by the Vermont School Boards Association is a requirement of all school board chairs and superintendents in Vermont (16 VSA 561(b).

Board Chairs in FWSU

Board Chairs in Franklin West Supervisory Union participated in VSBA training at Lake Morey (pictured left to right: Elaine Carpenter, Carl Laroe, Jr., Tara Sweet)

The daylong training explored topics such as educational leadership, school board roles and responsibilities, education funding, open meeting law, public records, and collective bargaining. A portion of the meeting was also devoted to the State’s study of special education completed by the District Management Group (DMG). The DMG worked with FWSU three years ago in a pilot study and later expanded its work with schools all over Vermont.

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VSBA Superintendent and Board Chair Training

The work of our school boards is essential to the success of our schools by providing student-focused oversight of education system. The boards of Fairfax, Fletcher, and Georgia are all committed to providing the best educational experiences for students. Each school board meets monthly and always invites the community to attend board meetings which are lawfully held in public. The Franklin West Supervisory Union Board meets five times per year and is comprised of three board members from Fletcher, Fairfax, and Georgia. FWSU Board meetings are also held in public and community members are encouraged to attend. Each year, the chair of the FWSU board rotates year to a different member district in our supervisory union. All of our school boards have also adopted a written Code of Ethics to hold their work to the highest ethical standards as they serve our schools and community.

Each of school board has its own webpage with current information:



“Having the opportunity to meet with other school board chairs as well as superintendents is always informative and energizing. Not only were we updated on current challenges for funding Vermont’s education system, but we also spent time focusing on data-driven best practices for improving student outcomes. It is validating to know that other Vermont schools are facing the same challenges that we are in balancing the needs of our students with the economic reality of funding public education.”   – Elaine Carpenter, Chair Fairfax Board of School Directors.

THE FWSU STORY: Promoting School Inclusion Through Unified Sports

This spring BFA Fairfax started a Unified Sports Bocce team. The team is practicing and learning the fundamentals and strategies of the sport.


The Unified Bocce Team at BFA Fairfax

The team will participate in the spring Unified Champion Schools Bocce Tournament in June.  They will compete against many other community Special Olympics Unified Sports Bocce Teams.


In Unified Sports, teams are made up of people of similar age and ability which makes practices more fun and games more challenging and exciting.


Unified Sports builds friendships, promotes social inclusion, and empowers individuals with and without intellectual disabilities.


BFA Fairfax has partnered with the Special Olympics to provide this opportunity for students in grades 4 through 6. Unified Sports has positive impacts throughout the school. This allows for meaningful participation opportunities for students and increases social inclusion.


Thank you to the coaches, Cindy Anderson and Paula Thompson. Their effort and dedication to supporting all student-athletes have made this program possible.

Bocce Coaches Paula Thompson and Cindy Anderson

Bocce Coaches Paula Thompson and Cindy Anderson

THE FWSU STORY: Middle School Students Learn at Champlain College

Middle school students from BFA and GEMS joined other Vermont students at Champlain College to participate in the sixth annual Reaching Out On Technology & Science (ROOTS). 

The ROOTS program is sponsored by the Champlain College Division of Information Technology and Science. The focus of the event is to expose middle students to fields in Science & Technology and to encourage their curiosity and imagination.

ROOTS is an all-day immersive event where students can select and participated in a series of three workshops taught by faculty from Champlain College’s Divisions of Information Technology & Sciences (ITS) and Communication and Creative Media (CCM).  Some of the choices included the following: Art with Code, Binary Challenge, Building Your First Website, Forensic Science, Game Design, Game Show Mathematics, Learning with Lightbot, Mobile Forensics, Programming with Scratch, and Tools for Digital Privacy.

This is the third year that FWSU middle school students have joined students from ten other middle schools in the Champlain Valley. STEM partnerships with Champlain College and University of Vermont have made our school programs stronger, as we continually try to inspire our students to envision themselves attending college, or exploring a career, in a STEM related field.