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.

IMG_0870

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.

IMG_0817

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: A Picture Is Worth Thousand Words: 2017-18 BFA Fairfax Sports Edition

As the 2017-18 school year comes to a close, and the cleats, balls, pinnies, skis, and batons are put to rest for another year, this is a great opportunity to reflect on all the athletic successes of this school year.  

IMG_0235

 

BFA Fairfax Lacrosse

BFA Fairfax Lacrosse

Soccer Practice!

Soccer Practice!

Student Athletes participated in a statewide Leadership Conference

Student-Athletes participated in a statewide Leadership Conference

BFA Fairfax’s athletic participation numbers are among the highest ever, and we are providing the broadest selection of opportunities in our school’s history.  

IMG_0267

BFA Bullets on the field!

IMG_0261

BFA Fairfax Bullets Football

IMG_0262

Soccer under the lights!

IMG_0241

2017-18 saw our first home night soccer games, multiple fundraisers for both local and global service causes, a new football cooperative team with Lamoille Union High School, tournament basketball at Barre Auditorium, the annual Fairfax Relays and Pink Game, record increases in participation numbers for track and field and club lacrosse, the approval of Ultimate Frisbee as a new Varsity sport, training trips to Quebec and Florida, multiple Mountain Division championships and track and field podium finishes, and as of today at 4:30, the Division 3 softball semifinals at Green Mountain Union High School.

IMG_0260

IMG_0264

 

IMG_0254

At BFA Fairfax, athletic participation is not only valued, it is viewed as a core component of the educational experience.  The participation numbers serve to validate the passion held by our students, our school, and our community year after year.  Congratulations on yet another successful year, Bullets! You have made us proud once again!

IMG_0240

IMG_5345

IMG_0239

xc photo

Go Bullets!


Geri Witalec

Geri Witalec-Krupa is an Athletic Director/Assistant Principal at Bellows Free Academy Fairfax. You follow her @GLWit

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.

collage-1.jpg

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.

collage-2.jpg

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!

THE FWSU STORY: New Teachers Celebrate the Year and Reflect on Resilience

Each year during the month of May, FWSU takes the opportunity to celebrate the work and learning of our new teachers and their mentors.

New Teachers and their mentors reflect on the year.

New Teachers and their mentors reflect on the year.

newteacher02

New Teachers discuss their experiences over the past year with their colleagues.

The year’s focus was on “Wellness Strategies to Promote Joy” in our classrooms and in the profession. In our last Professional Practice forum, new teachers worked on a personal legacy statement. During our final celebration, new educators shared those “legacies” with their mentors in a one-word summary.

In addition to delicious food, friendly conversation, and legacy sharing, we ended the year as we began in August, working with Dr. Joelle Van Lent, PsyD.

newteacher05

This time, her message centered on maintaining compassion satisfaction as resilient teachers. She urged new teachers and mentors to be mindful of creating balance between satisfaction and fatigue to support a healthy professional quality of life. She provided participants with useful suggestions to support that balance.

This year’s cohort also received a copy of Self-Care for Teachers, a helpful resource to extend their learning.

newteacher08

As the year winds to a close, we are grateful to our new Teachers and their mentors for their perseverance and commitment, and we thank them for their many positive contributions to our schools. We wish all of our educators a restful, rejuvenating, and JOYFUL summer break!


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: Running Club, Mini-Marathon Promote Health and Fun for Fletcher Students

It may have been called the Mini-Marathon, but the efforts of 24 Fletcher Elementary School athletes were anything but small Saturday. The kindergarten through sixth-grade students donned blue t-shirts sporting the school’s falcon logo and the words imagine, believe, and achieve, as they ran half-mile, mile, and two-mile courses on Burlington’s Waterfront.

Fletcher Running Club

“Just being outside and seeing how fast you can run is the best part,” fourth-grader Eli Tinker, who finished the two-mile course in 15 minutes 51 seconds, said. “It’s competitive and I feel unstoppable when I’m running.”

Eli Tinker raced alongside his older brother, sixth grader Jack Tinker, who finished the two miles in 14 minutes 40 seconds and placed 15th in his overall age category. The competition includes 4 to 14-year-old participants from Vermont and out-of-state.

“It felt longer than it was,” Jack Tinker said. “I just kept telling myself to try my hardest, have a good time and do my best. I am really proud when I run.”

Fletcher Running Club

This year’s Mini-Marathon was the 18th annual youth running event offered by RunVermont, the group that also coordinates the Vermont City Marathon, as well as a variety of health and fitness events each year. The Mini-Marathon marked the culmination of Fletcher’s school-based Running Club, during which many students spent about 20 minutes every Monday and Friday for several weeks in the spring running or walking on the school fields. The effort was led by kindergarten teacher Jenny Blackman and parent volunteers Carey Gillilan and Jensen Welch.

According to Blackman, the idea for a school-based running program was the brainchild of Fletcher parent Elizabeth Sargent and herself seven years ago, as they chaperoned a whole-school field trip to the Smuggler’s Notch Water Park.

Fletcher Running Club

“We were standing guard in the wading pool talking,” Blackman recalled. “We wanted something that the entire school could join, and we wanted to promote running as a fun sport that’s easy to start. Our school fields offered the perfect place to run. It’s just about one mile to go all the way around.”

And just like that, Fletcher’s Running club was born. It wasn’t until a few years later that students would begin attending Burlington’s Mini-Marathon as a culminating event.

“I love the Running Club,” parent Kayla Wright said. “I look forward to my boys coming home and telling me how many laps they did.” I can barely get anything out of them about how their days at school are, but when they have Running Club they can’t wait to tell me about it.”Fletcher Running Club

“Running Club is a good way to get some exercise and be outside with friends,” Gillilan said. “It’s a good way to make friends. You’re not doing this alone. We do this as a group, our school family. It brings an awareness to those who want to exercise and just don’t know how to go about it. We are all getting outside, teachers and students. You don’t have to run in the race. As long as you’re moving, you’re awesome.”

Blackman agrees that both the social and exercise components of Running Club are important “Even in rural areas like ours, many students do not get outdoors much. We are showing them how much fun an activity like running can be. We have all grades from preschool to grade six running and visiting together,” she said.RC8

The Mini-Marathon had all the trimmings of the larger, adult event. Students registered and received their bib, complete with participant number and name. While many children sported shirts representing their individual schools or organizations, each also received the official marathon shirt. Upon completion, participants received a medal.

“The Mini-Marathon is a great experience because tons of kids from other schools come out and you meet other kids,” Gillilan said. “You also get a sense of achievement when you cross the finish line and realize all of your hard work. You receive a medal and your finish time that you worked so hard for and earned. That experience is just awesome.”

“There is nothing better than seeing your child be active just for fun,” Wright said. “This event is something we look forward to every year.”

RC7

According to third-grader Cody Savage, his initial nervousness of running in the marathon quickly passed. “I felt a little scared at first but that quickly changed to feeling like I achieved something great when I finished,” Savage said. “I just put my mind and body to work and pulled through.”

Classmate Serein Marcotte agreed. “I was really excited to run both at school and at the marathon,” he said. “Exercising so that you can get stronger is really important. I also learned that I can do anything that I work hard at and believe that I can do.”

Fletcher Running Club

Fletcher Running Club participants met Champ!

Blackman, who will retire next month after nearly 30 years of teaching, says that helping to start Running Club is one of the accomplishments she is most proud of in her career.

“I have seen that getting exercise and being outdoors is becoming more and more of a challenge for all ages,” she said. “People are so busy, and we have many electronic distractions that keep us sitting indoors. Running is the perfect solution. Being alongside friends, adult staff, and volunteers makes it even more fun. Perhaps many of our students will continue to run and exercise throughout their lives. I hope we all do.”


mrdodge

Christopher Dodge is the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @FletcherFalcon

THE FWSU STORY: Young Children at GEMS Make Meaning Through Discovery

Children learn best through play and this works very well when you teach a concept such as patterns. As they enjoy activities involving patterning, young learners understand that the sequencing of such items allows for making predictions about what comes next. 

[UNSET] (1)

Learning about patterns in the early years of education is an important developmental milestone for children. Patterns help children learn sequencing and making predictions which help children develop mathematical skills, structure, and establishing order in everyday life. Children learn to use patterns to determine the days of the week, months, daily routines, odd and even numbering. Children learn by moving patterns, by watching the way water flows through objects to teach creative thinking and to use building structures and bridges to help children think about constructing and how things fit together.  Children first develop patterning skills by sorting objects by color, shape, size, and similarities such as the number of holes in buttons.  Simple patterns begin to develop when children are exposed to color patterns such as red, blue, red, blue (AB) patterns, and then begin noticing patterns in their daily environments.

[UNSET]

In music class, children have been learning about musical patterns by playing colored bells that go along with familiar songs. The children also learned about patterning when trying to keep the beat to familiar songs by tapping on the drum.

[UNSET] (2)

Patterns are everywhere in life! Help your child discover them in their homes, outside, or in any environment.

drums

THE FWSU STORY: The Life of a Principal’s Daughter

You’re sitting in your high school social studies class when one of your parents walks in. They start to talk with your friends about what they are doing in class and then they check in with your teacher. At this point, most people would wake up startled from a bad dream, but when you’re the high school principal’s daughter, it’s an everyday occurrence!

principaldaughter01

Abi Tague talks about her interesting life as the Principal’s daughter.

When you’re the principal’s daughter, you leave your house for school before any of your friends are even awake because your dad has an early meeting. Actually you arrive at school before your friends are awake. Every day. You stay late because there are meetings in the afternoon and sometimes you stay even later because “something came up” after school that has to be dealt with before you can leave.

When you’re the principal’s daughter, you get used to seeing your dad in all of your classes. And in the hallways. And at lunch. Every day. It takes some time to figure out how to interact with each other during the school day, but you find a balance somewhere between ignoring and overwhelming each other.

When you’re the principal’s daughter, you spend a lot of time in the main office because you get to school early and leave late. You get to know the office staff and the other principals. This is a pretty good thing, because they’re all nice people, they understand your situation and they sometimes have snacks.

principaldaughter02

Abi Tague waits in the main office with Accounting Clerk Sally Billado

When you’re the principal’s daughter, you hear all sorts of things about your dad from other students. Some of it good, some of it bad, some of it true.

When you’re the principal’s daughter, your friends text you to “tell your dad to make tomorrow a snow day.” You know it’s not really up to him, but you tell him anyway. You’re one of the first to know when there is a snow day because you hear your dad talking to the superintendent and the other principals at five in the morning. And then, just when you start to fall back asleep, you get the robo-call from him anyway!

When you’re the principal’s daughter the days are long and it seems like high school might last forever. But before you know it, you’re ready to graduate and leave your dad to run the school on his own. It’s scary and exciting for both of you.

principaldaughter03

Abi Tague at the NHS Induction Ceremony

Before I applied for the principal position at BFA Fairfax, we had a family discussion to talk about the potential impact of the job on the family. We knew that my daughter Abi would be most directly impacted as she would be a student at BFA if I got the position. We determined that we could make it work if I got the job.

The principalship was certainly a big change for both of us, but we have made the best of it. I appreciate that Abi was flexible and understanding throughout our time at BFA Fairfax. She kept me honest and provided some valuable feedback like “people are really confused about…” or “people are upset about…” and occasionally “people think _____ is a good idea”.

Truth be told, I spent as many nights waiting for her to finish play practice or basketball practice as she spent waiting for me to get out of a meeting. Our drives to school were pretty quiet in the morning, but we had great conversations on the way home. In one conversation, we agreed that I should write a blog about her near the end of her senior year. Thankfully for both of us (mostly her), she got her license in her junior year, so we were able to travel independently when it made sense.

Principal John Tague with his daughter Abi.

Principal John Tague with his daughter Abi.

Abi will be attending Endicott College in the fall to pursue a career in Nursing. She has worked diligently throughout her time at BFA Fairfax to prepare herself academically. Abi has also emerged as a leader in the National Honor Society and in Ultimate Frisbee. She is funny, kind and a little sassy (sometimes a lot sassy!). Abi will have no problem adjusting to college life. She probably won’t be upset that I don’t randomly show up in her labs, library, or dormitory next year!

To say that I will miss seeing her at BFA everyday is an understatement. However, I know she is ready to move forward. Which is, of course, my hope for all of the students at BFA Fairfax. Abi just happens to be the principal’s daughter. And when you’re the principal’s daughter, your dad gets to use the FWSU blog to say how proud he is of you.


tague

John Tague is the High School Principal at BFA Fairfax. You can follow him @jtague252