Appreciating our School Administrative Support Staff

The end of the year is right around the corner and soon the hustle and bustle of our hallways and classrooms will be quiet. Throughout the year we rely on our bus drivers to pick up and drop off our students safely – thank you. We rely on our maintenance and custodial staff to keeps our schools clean – thank you. We rely on our para-educators to support our students in the classroom – thank you. We rely on our nurses to keep us all safe and healthy – thank you. We rely on our teachers to deliver a world class education – thank you. And we rely on our administrators to make sure our schools are nothing less than awesome – thank you.

But in today’s’ story, I want to shine the spotlight and thank our building office professionals who are the first faces of our schools.

IMG_3881They serve a multitude of roles and frankly our schools could not run efficiently without them. They keep track of all the details from scheduling the principal to managing parking spaces.


They take every phone call and help deliver “forgotten” lunch boxes and musical instruments. They organize school mailings and make sure all of the student data is up to date and correct.


They organize graduation and make sure every transcript and reference letter is delivered to the right college. They know all of our students and families. They find lost clothing and sometimes offer first aid.

All in all, they always make sure that everything in the school is just right. And we know that our schools could not do it all without each of you – thank you, Carol, Jen, Val, Sally, Corrina, Rhonda, Aleta, and Sharon!


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Ned Kirsch is Superintendent of Schools at FWSU. He is a constant contributor to The FWSU Story. You can follow him on Twitter @betaVT

GEMS 2nd Graders Study Irrigation Systems

Second graders have been engineering irrigation systems as they study the importance of farming in our state.


Gaining an understanding of the necessity of water and why farmers need irrigation systems to support Vermont crops was the underlying theme throughout the past weeks.


Imagining, preparing, planning, and constructing were the initial steps to support the local crops and then came testing and improving to help create the most efficient system.


Tests conducted measured the amount of water dispersed, in square inches, on a large paper grid as modifications and adaptations were considered.


Closing circle and discussion had students using words such as erosion, drought, flooding, sediment, and absorption.  One student even implemented their weekly “wow” word as she said, ” I was mesmerized” — referring to the sprinkler head as it rotated in a circular motion.


Students looked at the perimeter and total area of their crop and determined if their irrigation system was supplying a sufficient amount of water to their entire crop.


Engaged, thoughtful, learning by ALL!

Labyrinth Coming Soon to GEMS

GEMS teachers have been engaged in teaching mindfulness practices to their students to improve academic success and emotional regulation. This fall a small group of teachers embraced an opportunity given through Launch FWSU. As a result of receiving the Launch funds provided through Bay and Paul Foundation, GEMS will be able to create a space to extend these mindfulness practices. The group decided to create a community Labyrinth on the school grounds.


Labyrinths have one path that winds in a circuitous way to the center. Labyrinths are used worldwide as a way to quiet the mind, recover balance in life, and encourage meditation, insight, self-reflection, stress reduction, creativity, and gratitude. Over the winter students and teachers researched and designed a variety of labyrinths and finalized a design. Path cutting and stone installation is set for Saturday, June 3 at 9 a.m. with Sunday, June 4th as a rain date.


The committee is excited to bring this to our Georgia community. Please contact JoAnn Harvey at if you are interested in more information or are willing to participate.

GEMS Students Explore Art and Innovation

Mrs. Young’s class at Georgia Elementary created Frank Stella-inspired art through a collaboration with the Innovation Lab.


I have always been inspired by Frank Stella‘s 3- dimensional relief paintings but struggled to find a way for young students to cut out interesting shapes in cardboard.


Until this year when the GEMS innovation lab was set up with a laser cutter!  Now we have a way to approach our art projects with new tools and methods.

Mr. Hadd and Mrs. Payne were excited to work with my 3rd graders in Mrs. Young’s class to try out our new equipment and programs.

The students started out in the art room and made paper models of their sculpture.  They worked in groups of 4 to create one sculpture.


Next, each group of 4 took their paper models to the computer lab to draw their shapes on the computer, then the files were converted and sent to the laser cutter.


They cut out 4 sets of each model so each student would have their own piece of art.


They brought the cardboard pieces back to the art room to paint and assemble.Despite the fact that every 4 students had the same set of pieces, each sculpture turned out as a unique piece of art!

This guest post was contributed by Dorsey Hogg, Elementary Art Educator at Georgia School.

VSO Performs at GEMS, Students Learn About Musical Instruments

This week, students at Georgia Elementary enjoyed a special visit from the Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s “Fanfare” Brass Trio.

GEMS Symphony 1

Fanfare members Glendon Ingalls (trumpet), Ron Wold (French horn), and Bear Irwin (trombone), played a variety of musical styles and demonstrated how the instruments produce sound and how each one has changed since its beginning.

GEMS Symphony 2

This rave review from a school is typical: “Fanfare’s performance was entertaining, informative, and tuned into the attention spans and interests of young children. Our students were excited to listen and learn about each instrument.”

GEMS Symphony 3

These performances are part of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s statewide SymphonyKids education program, which reached over 26,000 schoolchildren last year with 278 presentations serving 175 schools in 141 different towns. The VSO’s traveling ensembles visit all corners of the state as part of an outreach program known as the Lois H. McClure “Musicians-in-the-Schools” Program. These lively concerts are met with overwhelming enthusiasm, as musical ambassadors spread the word that classical music can be fun!

Organic Artist Nick Neddo Visits GEMS


At the end of March, the GEMS Art Department hosted artist and author Nick Neddo. He is a sixth-generation Vermonter whose lifelong pursuits include the study of the natural world around him, exploring Stone Age technologies, and creating art.


Even before he begins a piece of art, he spends a significant amount of time preparing and making the tools and materials needed to make the art.  He uses only materials that he can find from the landscape around him.


He shared with our students not only his amazing art and handmade tools but also his curiosity of how things are made and the all the possibilities hidden in the natural world.


Nick shared his work with the students. He taught the students how to crush rocks to make paint.


He taught the students how to crush rocks to make paint.


Everyone enjoyed painting with their own handcrafted paint!

Georgia Middle School Meets Georgia Mountain Maples

Sixth graders from Georgia Middle School did not waste a minute of beautiful spring weather earlier this week. Roughly 70 students and teachers hiked their way up Georgia Mountain in a quest to learn about the Maple Sugaring industry.


Hunter uses his phone to check the status of different Boosters throughout the woods.

Led by Georgia Mountain Maples employees Hunter and Ryan, students learned that sugaring in the year 2017 involves both technology and hard work. “People outside of Vermont probably do not realize how much work goes into making maple syrup,” speculates sixth grader, Alayna Carpenter. Workers carry heavy vests filled with tools and other essentials through the woods. Lines need to be checked constantly.  If holes or leaks are found workers quickly get to work. “I can’t imagine doing this kind of work in three feet of snow,” admits sixth grader Kendra Smith.


Hunter is hard at work tapping a Maple tree.

The sap quickly makes its way to the Sugar House. After being stored and then run through a reverse osmosis machine, the sap is heated. John Quinn, Georgia sixth grader, sees how technology can back hard work. The Sugar House is equipped with the most up-to-date equipment. “The Harrison Family is using the technology to its full extent,” claims Alex Youchah.


The back pan heats up the sap.

Not only did they share their knowledge about maple sugaring – they even fed us!  Thanks to Shannon Harrison, students enjoyed a delicious breakfast of pancakes, ham, homefries, and lots of fresh maple syrup of course.


Students enjoy breakfast for lunch.

This was more than enough generosity! But the Harrison family had one more surprise in store for our students.


Georgia Middle School sixth graders at Georgia Mountain Maples

Every student left with one pint of fresh Georgia Mountain maple syrup free of charge. Thanks, Georgia Mountain Maples for providing this sweet learning experience for our sixth graders!