THE FWSU STORY: Students Explore Restorative Justice Practices at Georgia School

Middle school students at Georgia are exploring peacemaking circles and conferencing models with a restorative plan for classrooms that have a student who is referred by a staff member for a violation of school rules.


By definition, restorative measures represent a philosophy and a process that acknowledges that when a person does harm, it affects the persons they hurt, the community and themselves. Using restorative measures, an attempt is made to repair the harm caused by one person to another and to the community so that everyone can return to a safe, responsible and respectful learning environment.


Restorative models provide schools the opportunity to improve school culture by addressing the school-wide expectations and creating a forum for peaceful conflict resolution. Through support for restorative justice, our goal is to amplify peace in our schools and communities.


Middle school enrichment teacher Sandra Moulton has been working with students in her service learning class Restorative Justice. After weeks of learning the purpose and understanding the role of restorative justice, 7th and 8th grade students were then able to participate using a foundational component of the process, which a circle discussion format. In a 5th and 3rd grade classes, the service learning students initiated the process. Student leaders communicated the purpose of the circles, the guidelines, and the goals. This experience for both student leaders and the classes was extremely positive and both groups agreed to take the process to the next level going forward at GEMS.

THE FWSU STORY: Students Broadcast GEMS TV Express

Learning about school news and current events is wonderful, but being an essential part of the communication, editing, and publishing of information, on a weekly basis, is a prideful moment.


Each week the Georgia Innovation Lab broadcasts GEMS TV Express!

It is a weekly newscast that provides upcoming school events, student recognition, and celebrations, along with all the wonderful learning experiences that are occurring across the elementary school.


Middle school students work collaboratively with Elementary students to produce a high quality, informative, and entertaining news broadcast that is aired weekly for all student classrooms Pk-4.


Through close facilitation and coaching, the innovation lab staff (Dayle Payne and Eric Hadd) guide students in their rehearsal, production, and editing of every final product.


Students take ownership, are thoroughly engaged, problem-solve continuously while communicating effectively and are building upon transferable skills for life.  It is real-world learning that is taking place each week with phenomenal results of the final product created.


Elementary students viewing the news feed are excited each week and look forward to the upcoming broadcast.  The following quotes were taken from Elementary students:

“I love seeing my friends”


“This is awesome”


“Look! That’s me”


We all wait patiently anticipating what will be in our next GEMS TV Express.


Until next time…

THE FWSU STORY: The First Days of Preschool

Welcome to GEMS Preschool!  The first days of school are all about relationship building, meeting new peers, and learning about routines throughout the day. It is the start of an educational journey that determines who we are in life and it is so important for social, emotional, and academic growth.


In PreK classrooms, it is imperative to provide opportunities for children to play, interact, cooperate, and be able to express their needs respectfully. But this takes time developmentally and adults must facilitate these learning opportunities for success to occur.


The use of imagination, role-playing, and experimentation are approaches to learning that promote creativity, innovation, and problem-solving.


In early years we educate children about self-awareness, emotions and self-regulation and the tools in the classroom to assist.


It will be a great year with my new friends!


THE FWSU STORY: At GEMS, First Days of School is All About Relationships

The new school year is off to a great start to the GEMS! The first days of the new year are always focused on creating relationships among students and teachers alike.


The goal is to build a promote respect and rapport across every member of the GEMS community.


This emphasis allows teachers to engage in positive interactions with their students, create classroom environments that are conducive to learning, and meet students’ developmental, emotional and educational needs.


Developing positive relationships between teachers and students is foundational to quality teaching and effective student learning.


The process is a year-long journey for all of us, but we are off to a great start!

Learn more about UN Sustainable Development Goal # 4 

frank calano


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



THE FWSU STORY: The Hive is Alive! GEMS 6th Graders Explore the Importance of the Honey Bee

A small group of 6th Graders gave us the “buzz” on bees this week as they presented their work on the importance of honey bees.  For four weeks, these students studied the honey bee and all the intricacies of the hive; culminating in an hour-long presentation, complete with costume, simulations, and snacks!


Students learn about the honey bee.

The students had an opportunity to participate in a workshop shop with Kurt Valenta from Exordium an authentic learning experience with a lot of hands-on components, all within the classroom setting.


Mr. Kurt Valenta from Exordium shared the importance of the honey bee.

The presentation focused on 5 key concepts: Pollination, Community, Communication, Energy, and Design.

Students learned about 5 key concepts about the honey bee.

Students learned about 5 key concepts about the honey bee.

Each component was connected to the Driving Question: Why are honey bees important and what can you do to help?


Students discuss their learning with their classmates.

The students lead their peers through two simulations – demonstrating honey bee communication and pollination.


The class was energized by their learning experience!

The 6th-grade class was energized by the experience provided by their classmates. One student commented, “They obviously put a lot of work into this presentation.  You can see the process of beautiful work.  They were well-rehearsed and prepared.  I had so much fun!”

THE FWSU STORY: Second Graders Make A Difference at Georgia

This year at GEMS, Mrs. Ferguson’s second-grade class embarked on a journey to learn to knit and to make a difference in their local community.


Mrs. Ferguson’s second grade class began a knitting journey this year.

The project began in September. Every Monday, the class dedicated time to improve their skills. Members of the GEMS staff offered instruction and guidance throughout the year including librarian Mrs. Rider, math specialist Mrs. Wilson, Innovation Lab teacher Mrs. Payne, reading paraeducator Mrs. Dow and paraeducator Mrs. Palmer.

An imperfect start at knitting ends in neatly stitched rows.

Knitting is a journey! An imperfect start ends in neatly stitched rows.

“Each square shows their growth,” explained Mrs. Ferguson, pointing to a square of student work. One end is uneven, full of loopy stitches, many of which are connected to nothing. She points to the opposite end, “You can see how much they have learned.” The end she is pointing to has neat stitches lined up perfectly. As students became more proficient, they knit during class breaks and during read-aloud time. Many also knit at home, making gifts and accessories for family and friends.  By the end of the year, the class had created three blankets and one knitted ball to donate to the Franklin County Humane Society.


The second graders proudly display their knitting creations!

The students are proud and excited about their work. Not only have they learned a new skill, they have learned work habits such as perseverance and problem-solving. “One of our class focuses has been encouraging a growth mindset,” said Mrs. Ferguson. “This project demonstrated for the students that if they think that they can learn new things, they will even if the skill seems difficult at first.”

The students are also very pleased about how they’ve been able to make a difference in their community. The Humane Society was grateful for the donation. They said that the blankets would be used frequently to comfort animals. When the class was told that their hard work would be featured on the FWSU Story, one student exclaimed, “Maybe other people will see this project and want to do the same for pets where they live. We made a difference here, but maybe we will make a difference in the world too!” Interested readers can go to The Snuggles Project to learn how they can contribute in their areas.

Check out the video below to see more of the class’ journey.



THE FWSU STORY: Young FWSU Artists Featured in Franklin County Art Show

Last month, the Collins-Perley Sports Complex hosted the annual Franklin County School Art Show.  Students from BFA Fairfax, Fletcher, and Georgia Elementary and Middle School were represented as well as many other schools from our neighboring communities. Art teachers presented selected artwork to showcase their students’ accomplishments over the past school year.


On May 15th, Georgia Elementary Middle School presented an opening reception for the community, students, and art teachers to celebrate amazing art by our students.


It was great to see so many supporters participate and to see the amazing work from the smallest students in our county to our oldest students. A big thanks to FWSU art teachers Jenn Hart, Marc Choiniere, Kim Desjardins, MC Baker, Sara Wolfson, and Dorsey Hogg.

Be sure to join us for our next show in May 2019!