The FWSU Story: GEMS Teacher of the Year – Lauralee Wilson

“Teachers, I believe, are the most responsible and important members of society because their professional efforts affect the fate of the earth.” – Helen Caldicott, author and peace activist

The 39th Annual Vermont Outstanding Teachers Recognition Day is being held on Thursday, December 5, 2019 at the Grand Maple Ballroom in the Davis Center at the University of Vermont.  This ceremony is held to thank outstanding teachers and publicly honor them for educating the next generation – each day helping them to be smarter, more creative, and more humane. To recognize the long hours, the patience, the perseverance, and passion defining their important work, and to honor them for their commitment, their successes as well as their trials, and the powerful impact they have on the children of Vermont and our future.

Honored at this ceremony will be our GEMS Teacher of the Year. Math Specialist, Lauralee Wilson.  A leader among her colleagues, Lauralee has taught at the Georgia Elementary School for the past 17 years engaging students to become mathematicians, problem solvers, and respectful members of every learning community.  As a true advocate for children, Lauralee’s approach takes into consideration the whole child; socially, emotionally, and academically. Lauralee is a valued educator within our community across all facets of her work and she is a proven GEM!

Lauralee’s colleagues had the following things to say about her:

“She demonstrates the qualities that our school promotes.  Lauralee is very respectful to adults and students, she is very responsible about her lesson planning, and she works well as a team member.  She is also very positive, calm and flexible.”

“Lauralee is amazing to collaborate with.  She truly knows the meaning of what it means to be a team player.”

“Her passion for teaching is contagious.  Every time Lauralee enters the classroom students are immediately interested and engaged in her math instruction.  Every day, she is able to set each child up for success and helps all students feel valued, regardless of their math ability.  Lauralee is a constant source of inspiration to be the best educator one can be. She is not only a superb math instructor and teacher, but also has a genuine love for the children, enthusiasm for teaching and a bright disposition toward all things.” 

“She is positive , calm, and flexible”

“”Students always come first”

“She has a wonderful sense of humor”

Steve Emery is the Elementary Principal of Georgia Elementary Middle School. He is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY.

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: GEMS Students Use STEM Problem Solving Methods

STEM is an interdisciplinary and applied approach that keeps students engaged and learning through a “plan, design, and improve” method of solving a problem. Throughout this flow students apply their current knowledge, build and test their thinking, and then make improvements from information they’ve attained. 

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The incorporation of these content areas along with “problem-solving” questions provides a great learning opportunity for students that becomes engaging, collaborative, and thought-provoking.

In Georgia, teachers work exclusively with their STEM coach to plan and collaborate on the implementation and cross cutting approach to embedding all disciplines. 

Here, 4th graders work to answer the question, “How to create an earthquake resistant building incurring the least amount of damage.”

To test their thoughts…..Their structures will undergo this earthquake test:

Many modifications to existing structures occurred as students discussed why structures failed and how they could make improvements. 

Steve Emery is the Elementary Principal of Georgia Elementary Middle School. He is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY.

THE FWSU Story: Creating Problem Solvers at GEMS

Middle-level students have been hard at work at GEMS this fall in creating creative solutions to different types of problems. The brainstorming and creations of possible solutions have been found in and around our core content classes as well as our UA. 

Creative and Practical Problem Solving is one of the five Transferable Skill proficiencies that FWSU and GEMS have been working to incorporate throughout our proficiency-based learning and reporting. The Transferable Skill of Creative and Practical Problem Solving requires that students do things like: 

  • observe and evaluate situations in order to define problems.
  • identify patterns, trends, and relationships that apply to solutions.
  • generate a variety of solutions, use evidence to build a case for the best responses, critically evaluate and repeat that process to generate alternative solutions.
  • identify opportunities for innovation and collaboration.
  • use a range of tools, including technology, to solve problems, and
  • persist in solving challenging problems and learning from unsuccessful attempts.

Students in Mr. Hardy’s grade 7 math class have incorporated their mathematical understanding to create and share proposals to me on ways they would like to improve and expand the experiences along our walking path.

Last UA block, Mr. King’s Tech Ed course offering was helping students to design and build their own dragsters. This course culminated with a drag race competition to determine which design was the fastest. It was great to hear students discuss and debate the many different variables of what created the more successful designs. 

Mrs. Hardy, our Enrichment teacher, taught a course last block called Problem Solvers. When asked about the course, Jen shared the following: 

“We started the UA block with nonroutine style problems on paper and a few classroom-style escape activities. Then we moved on, to search the building for authentic problems. The problems kept rolling in, once we solved one, someone else would say how about this. Students didn’t get to them all, but some they did pursue was creating a school map, a ramp for the 1st-grade cart, and keeping plants from being trampled. They also tackled safety and congestion problems in the lobby and hallway headed to lunch. Lastly, we are waiting for quotes designed to increase the feeling of belonging here at GEMS. Students loved the feeling of accomplishment they got from being helpful and making our community a better place.”

These are only a few of the many examples of how our students are inspired to create, innovate and problem-solve at GEMS both to extend their learning and continue to improve our community.

Julie Conrad is the Middle School Principal of Georgia Elementary Middle School. She is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow her at @JulieConradVT

The FWSU Story: GEMS and BFA Go To School Maker Day

This year, students from both BFA and GEMS were able to go to the first ever School Maker Day at the Shelburne Farms Coach Barn, in Shelburne.

Students had the opportunity to explore and engage in experiments and projects around electronics, coding, robots, 3D printing, drones and music. This was a great way to take connect the innovative learning they are doing in classrooms with the maker community.

As an extension of the innovator classes, the middle students were also charged with collecting the multimedia for this blogpost. With the mobile technology of iPads in their hands, students documented several of the activities to compile a brief insight into the day’s festivities.

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.

The FWSU Story: New Leadership Joins Our Schools

Two schools within the FWSU have new principals joining the team this year. Georgia Elementary and Middle School welcomed Julie Conrad as the Middle School Principal, and Bellows Free Academy – Fairfax welcomes Justin Brown, also as Middle School Principal. Both principals have had a highly successful start to the school year.

Mr. Brown, BFA Fairfax Middle School Principal

Justin is delighted to reconnect with his home community of Fairfax. With a range of experience over the past 10 years in both local and international schools as Principal of Winooski High School, Assistant Principal of Colchester High School and Principal of Vilnius International School (in Vilnius, Lithuania), he is committed to growing BFA Fairfax grades 5-8 into the best it can be. As Principal, Brown often says his primary charge is building a sense of unity and identity throughout grades 5-8 at BFA Fairfax. 

In this new position at BFA Fairfax, Justin brings expertise developing and actively building on a solid foundation of work in the areas of Proficiencies-Based Personalized Learning; sharing leadership and learning among staff and students; ensuring safe, healthy, equitable and flexible learning environments; and involvement of family and community partners. 

He is the first to say that what drew him initially, and now on his return to Fairfax, is the sense of community and focus on what is best for kids. Each day, he enjoys visiting and checking in with students and their teachers throughout their classrooms and throughout the building, as well as at after school activities.

Ms. Conrad, Georgia Middle School Principal, first day of school

Julie Conrad comes to GEMS this year having ten years experience as a high school math teacher, served 3 years as the State Mathematics Coordinator for the Vermont Agency of Education, a project manager and instructor in the Vermont Mathematics Initiative at UVM, and the last five years as the Mathematics Coordinator at Mount Abraham Unified School District. She has also been an educational consultant with various schools and districts around Vermont and New England. Julie has received her BS in Secondary Mathematics Education from the University of Vermont and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. She has special interests curriculum, assessment, and instruction; brain research; proficiency-based learning, restorative justice, and integration of technology into K-12 student learning. Aside from work, Julie loves to spend time with her three children playing board games. She can also be found creating and enjoying the arts (visual and performing), baking, swimming or being in nature. 

Ms. Conrad with Thomas & Amelia Weber

From Ms. Conrad… “The start of the year has been going well, largely due to the amazing staff and educators that make GEMS a great place to work and learn. My personal focus for my first year at GEMS is to strengthen our learning community through developing strong relationships. This means I am actively working to build my relationships with the students, adults, and families that make up the GEMS community. I have enjoyed getting to know the teachers and students through daily interactions, welcoming them to the building, visiting with them in lunch, and visiting their classrooms to look at the learning. The Middle School students at GEMS are amazing resources that are constantly curious and offer great ideas daily about how they think we can make GEMS better from them as learners and people. It is also my hope to strengthen communication and collaboration between parents and our school. Open House is a great start to meeting our GEMS families and sharing with them about goals around proficiencies as this will be on-going work for our school in the next few years. “

Donald Van Nostrand is the Interim Superintendent of Schools at Franklin West Supervisory Union. He is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter at @dsvannostrand

Be sure to follow FWSU on Facebook and #FWSU on Twitter to see more exciting things happening in our schools!

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