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.

THE FWSU STORY: Meet the New Business Manager

Earlier this month, FWSU welcomed new Business Manager, Randall Morton, to its leadership team.

Randall Morton is the new Business Manager at FWSU.

Randall Morton is the new Business Manager at FWSU.

Randy comes to us with lots of experience and a positive, team-oriented approach to his work. His leadership style is driven by forging relationships, finding strengths, modeling flexibility, and keeping a step ahead of whatever may be on the horizon.


Randy has worked in the accounting field for over 20 years. He received his degree from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. After working for a number of years in the private sector in Florida, Randy learned about the position of School Business Manager and set a goal to become one in northern Vermont.


In 2012, Randy was offered an accounting position at Windham Central Supervisory Union in Townshend, and in 2016 he became the Assistant Business Manager. In 2017, Randy took the helm as the Business Manager at Battenkill Valley Supervisory in the community of Arlington, Vermont. When he heard about the search for FWSU Business Manager, he started doing research and heard nothing but great things about our three communities, our schools, and the staff. Randy willingly shared, “I’m happy to say that all of these have proven to be true!”


Randy describes this as a challenging time for school finance in Vermont. With statewide student enrollment numbers declining, tax rates increasing, funding formulas changing, potential mergers pending, and so many other variables up in the air at the moment, the need to be adaptive to change is incredibly important. Information that can significantly impact the day-to-day operations comes in constantly, so flexibility and keeping on top of the changes is absolutely vital. Randy is clearly ready for these challenges — his optimism and flexible approach are a real benefit for our supervisory union. And at the very least he says, “It keeps it interesting, for sure!”


Randy Morton shares a financial update at a recent Fletcher School Board meeting.

Randy has already noted that FWSU has an innovative and forward-thinking approach to education and technology, which he finds very exciting. About how he feels working here, Randy said, “The staff here has a great reputation and have been absolutely amazing to work with. I’m very happy to be a part of the team!”

When Randy is not at work, he is most comfortable exploring the Vermont outdoors, especially his new Franklin County surroundings. Hiking, biking, kayaking, exploring new areas, and taking road trips are his leisure activities of choice. He also plays guitar and is also been learning to play the piano. Randy has a 7-year-old son, Alec. Whenever possible, they like to travel to his hometown in the Boston area to see family and spend time at the beach.

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: Spring Arrives at BFA Fairfax School Farm

The weather has finally turned the corner in northern Vermont and signs of spring are everywhere. At BFA, the grounds are finally dry enough for the Farm to School class to get the School Farm ready for planting.


The Farm to School garden at BFA Fairfax

The students planted seeds months ago in the greenhouse and are getting ready to transplant them into the garden. Before they can do that, they need to uncover the beds and get them tilled.

Today, the students were working under the supervision of teachers Sarah Coon, Fred Griffin and Alan Morse. They were engaged in shoveling, raking, planting, rototilling over the expansive School farm.


Students care for plants in the greenhouse

“It’s quiet for awhile and then everything happens at once” -Sarah Coon, teacher


A student works to prepare soil for planting.

One group was preparing the asparagus bed. “We’ll have enough asparagus to feed the whole town,” said student Devon B.


A student works in the garden.

The class is also working on a chicken coop and a pollinator garden for the bees they will be adding later this year. They have already planted berry bushes and continue to plant apple trees for their orchard.  The food that grows from this garden will be used in the cafeteria in the fall and at the annual harvest dinner for the community.


Farm to School gardens at BFA Fairfax

However, between planting and harvesting, there is a lot of work to be done. Teacher Fred Griffin will work with students through the summer to keep up the garden. He is looking for students to help for 2-3 hours per day a couple days of the week through the summer. If you know of a student that might be interested please contact Mr. Griffin.


Rototilling the rows for planting.

Through the Farm to School class, students are learning about the planning and labor associated with gardening. In the fall, they will harvest the reward of their work. It is a hands-on experience that provides students with knowledge and skills and on this daytime outside on a beautiful day.

THE FWSU STORY: Appreciating Our Teachers

During the week of May 7-11, we are celebrating the incredible work that our teachers do each and every day. We are truly fortunate in FWSU to have so many talented and dedicated educators who are committed to helping students thrive.

Thank you Teachers

Teachers have the profound task of preparing the next generation for a future that we can only imagine. The impact of these caring adults cannot be underestimated. Teachers make a difference!

So during National Teacher Appreciation Week, thank a teacher and share a memory of your favorite teacher in the comments.

THE FWSU STORY: BFA Fairfax’s Sandy Brown Honored as a Statewide Leader in STEM Education

This week, across the nation, schools and communities are celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week. At BFA Fairfax, we are also celebrating and today we want to honor our very own Sandy Brown. For those of you who know Sandy, you know how much she loves teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Recently, her love and commitment to teaching were recognized both locally and nationally. She received two honors for her implementation of STEM work in her fifth-grade classroom at BFA.   Sandy was recognized at the STEM Challenge Initiative (SCI) Third Annual STEM Recognition Night in St. Albans.

In addition, she was also featured in a recently published book, Engineering in Elementary STEM Education. The book features teachers from New England and builds on the work of the Boston Museum of Science team that has spent 15 years developing elementary engineering curricula.  Sandy’s work is part of a comprehensive introduction for elementary educators on how to integrate engineering into their classroom, school, or district in age-appropriate, inclusive, and engaging way.


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Sandy Brown, STEM Educator


Sandy’s work also continues to evolve. Earlier this year, Sandy applied for and received a STEM Challenge Initiative (SCI) grant to purchase Mindstorm EV3 Robot kits for her classroom. The kits allowed her to facilitate the development of computational thinking skills with her students.  Through a series of challenges, students applied their newly acquired skills for to learn how to program.  Here is a link to a previous blog post, THE FWSU STORY: Innovation with Lego Mindstorm EV3’s featuring her work with her students.


Sandy and her students presented the class’s accomplishments, including a demonstration of their programming skills, at the SCI award ceremony mentioned above. You can read more about the presentation in an article featured in the Saint Albans Messenger: Budding Scientists, Teachers Recognized.

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Congratulations, Sandy Brown!!!!