THE FWSU STORY: Bakery Play and Learning Opportunities Abound in Georgia Preschool

When you walk into Miss Sweet’s classroom you will find children taking on the adult work of being Bakers.

Students are learning to bake at GEMS Preschool
Students are learning all about the work of a Bakery at GEMS Preschool

There is Gingerbread-scented playdough, baking tools, and pans for children to use and create treats with.  They put their treats in colorful packaging. 

The bakers need to count the number of treats they are putting in boxes. 

How many is a dozen? 

Is that box heavy?  

Students learn the range of skills involved involved with a Bakery
Students learn the range of skills involved involved with a Bakery

There are fine motor, literacy, and math learning opportunities as children make signs, price tags and fulfill customer orders. Customers pay for their bakery treats. All of these learning opportunities happen through playful interactions and conversations facilitated by adults who know the language and curriculum that children should be exposed to in preschool.  

THE #FWSU STORY: Building Positive School Culture, One Interaction at a Time

A very important part of school culture is starting each and every day off on a positive note. Taking the time to greet someone, making eye contact, and sharing a friendly comment can fuel their day and give them the boost they need to have a productive, successful, and meaningful experience at school.

Human interaction is a necessity and research indicates that individuals thrive when such personal contact exists. We know this is so true for our students in educational settings as well.

As we begin each school day, throughout around every corner of the building, we are building relationships and shaping positive school culture. As children exit buses, when they arrive at school early, or when getting dropped off from parents we have the opportunity for engaging interactions with each child. As you enter the building, you can see a variety of staff greeting children with smiles, showing their appreciation for their presence and what makes them unique. In fact, some teachers meet their students at the door and students choose how they want to be greeted. A “pat on the back” a “high five” a “bear hug” and the list goes on as the choices change daily. Children love the acknowledgment and flourish with a positive start to each day.

Throughout the day greetings continue as many staff are assigned one student that they need to acknowledge and recognize daily. The intent is to be intentional and acknowledge what they bring to our school as we inquire how they are doing and how their day is going, or through just saying hello.

Simple words build trust. These gestures create a sense of value and belonging across our school community, small efforts that have such a large impact!  

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

THE FWSU STORY: Celebrating 30 Days of Kindness at Georgia School

GEMS students celebrate kindness

This year, the fifth graders at Georgia Elementary Middle School are focusing on kindness.  Teachers started the year challenging the students to 30 days of random acts of kindness.  The students kept track of their acts of kindness on slips of paper and hung them outside Mr. Demar’s and Ms. Mandigo’s classrooms. 

During these 30 days, we saw students inviting new peers to sit with them at lunch or including them in play at recess. Teachers saw students leaving notes of appreciation for our custodial staff and other staff members throughout the school. They witnessed students picking up items off the floor that other students had dropped.  Teachers saw students supporting and encouraging each other. It has been great to experience all the random acts of kindness being extended by so many of our students. 

Along with the 30 days of random acts of kindness, each student painted a kindness rock. These rocks are under the lone tree by the labyrinth. 

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”


Through a generous grant, the entire fifth-grade teaching staff and students were presented with Be Kind t-shirts. These shirts will be worn by all of fifth-grade on the last Friday of each month. The last Friday of the month is also when the fifth-grade students are recognized for their many talents.

GEMS students display their kindness t-shirts

Building on the theme of kindness, fifth-grade students will participate in a Holiday Toy Drive for children. As many students as possible will bring gifts to school by December 14th to distribute within our community. 

It has been a great start to the school year!

UN SDG Global Goal 4: Quality Education

THE FWSU STORY: Playing with Math and Literacy in Georgia Preschool

If you visit our preschool classrooms you will find so many learning opportunities for children.


These children were playing bakery and wanted to take down orders.


Children are given many different writing tools and mediums to explore writing and drawing.  When children experiment with writing tools, they develop symbolic thinking skills and fine motor skills.  Marks take on meaning.


This boy was saying letter names as he made marks on his paper.


These children were playing restaurant and taking orders.


Two of the preschool classrooms have “Shape Shops” up and running in dramatic play.  The shape shops are places where you can buy shapes.  You should hear the math language being used as children buy and sell shapes.  They can use the shapes to create a piece of art!


There are shapes to cut in the sensory table…


There are shapes to play with on the tables!


Math and literacy opportunities pop up in the most unexpected places.  What opportunities do your children have at home?  If you start looking and noticing, I bet you will be surprised at how many opportunities there are in your conversations, routines, and play.

Stay connected with all that is happening by visiting the Georgia Elementary Preschool Program blog

THE FWSU STORY: What’s Happening in GEMS Preschool

It has been an exciting month of learning in the Preschool at GEMS! This year we currently have 88 preschoolers in our program who are placed in six preschool classes. Here is a look behind the scenes into the classrooms where our children learn and play.


Miss Sweet’s PM Class


Mrs. Howrigan’s PM Class


Mr. Anthony’s Afternoon Class


Mr. Anthony’s Morning Class


Mrs. Howrigan’s Morning Class


Miss Sweet’s Morning Class


Stay connected with all that is happening by visiting the Georgia Elementary Preschool Program blog

UN SDG Global Goal 4: Quality Education

THE #FWSU STORY: Georgia Students Learn Lessons from the Lake

Last month, the 3rd and 4th and fourth graders at Georgia Elementary Middle School partnered with St. Albans Museum, Friends of Northern Lake Champlain, and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets in Lake Lessons, a new STEAM-cultural heritage program.

Georgia Elementary students learn Lake Lessons at St. Albans Bay

Georgia School elementary students learn Lake Lessons at St. Albans Bay

These students were bused to St. Albans Bay Park and Georgia Beach to learn more about the maritime heritage of the Bay, once known as “Port Washington”, including the world-famous “Gleaner of St. Albans” sailing canal boat, and more, featuring the economic, recreational and military history of Lake Champlain.

Georgia School elementary students discuss important lessons about the Lake

Georgia School elementary students discuss important lessons about the Lake

Through different stations, students explored opportunities to create original works with photography, drawing/coloring, or writing prompts to share their own thoughts and ideas about Lake Champlain.  They also had an opportunity to engage with a rainfall simulator to examine four types of surface (bare earth, lawn, edged habitat, field, and forest) and the concept of runoff and infiltration as well as scientific method and development of a hypothesis.

Georgia students talk about runoff and Lake cleanup

Georgia students talk about water runoff and pollution.

A hands-on tabletop model helped students understand how polluted runoff impairs lakes and rivers.  Topics covered included point and nonpoint pollution sources (urban, industrial, forested, and agricultural), toxic substances, phosphorus, pollution prevention, and watershed management.


Lessons by the Lake

The agricultural water quality station provided students with an understanding around limiting factors on a farm.  Students learned about different aspects and parts of a farm and why they are all important to the farm system, such as nutrient, waste storage, water, and more.

Students discuss their lake learning on the shores of Lake Champlain

Students discuss their lake learning on the shores of Lake Champlain

Students were then asked to evaluate and comment upon their learning experience to help their partners improve and enhance this pilot program for future offerings.

Students are more aware of their responsibilities in keeping our lakes healthy and how their choices impact the watershed.  If we all work together we can appreciate and enjoy the vast and beautiful waters of Lake Champlain.

UN SDG Global Goal 6: Clean Water

THE FWSU STORY: A Rainy Day at Georgia Preschool

What do preschool children do on a rainy day at GEMS?


Find ways to move inside of course!


Build an obstacle course with your new friends!


Roll a Die and take steps on a balance beam!


Do art projects with Mrs. Hogg


Dorsey Hogg GEMS Art Teacher


Build with your friends!


Listen to a good story!


Act out a really good story…

Sing together…

Jessica Sweeney GEMS Music Teacher


Play apple games and experiment with art tools!


There are so many things to do on a rainy day in preschool!

Stay connected with all that is happening by visiting the Georgia Elementary Preschool Program blog