The FWSU Story: Friday…November…

Each day on the FWSU Story we try to communicate exciting news and information about our schools and students. This has been our goal every day for the past seven years.  But what really make our schools dynamic are the day-to-day learning opportunities and interactions that occur without much fanfare.  They are the heart of our schools.IMG_3450

It could be students listening to their teacher read a story…IMG_3451

It could be a team of educators planning for the next “big thing,”…IMG_3453

)r a group of friends enjoying lunch together… IMG_3454

Or a physical education class learning basketball skills…IMG_3456

Or getting ready for recess…IMG_3457

Or checking out the daily assignment on Schoology… IMG_3458

Or tinkering with circuits in an Innovation Lab…IMG_3459

Or collaborating on a project…

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These opportunities and interactions are what make our schools special.

THE FWSU STORY: BFA Fairfax Senior Shane Seals Recognized as Top 10 Vermont Student-Athlete Leader

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On Monday, November 5 the Vermont State Athletic Directors Association in coordination with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association held their annual scholarship banquet at the Doubletree Hotel and Conference Center in Burlington. This banquet serves as one of the highlight events of the annual Vermont Student Athletic Leadership Conference, to which BFA Fairfax sends eight of our top student-athlete leaders each year.

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This year, BFA Fairfax was proud to have Shane Seals (‘19) selected as one of ten NIAAA Student-Athlete Scholarship winners in the State of Vermont.  In addition to an essay on how athletic participation has impacted his life, Shane was required to demonstrate his exceptional qualities in academic potential, athletic participation, and service to others.

At the awards banquet, Athletic Director Geri Witalec-Krupa’s introduction of Shane stated “Whether on the cross country and Nordic trails, the ultimate frisbee pitch, serving on our School Board, or leading the construction of our phenomenal school farm, Shane guides others to success with humility and integrity.  Many BFA Fairfax programs have greatly succeeded with him, and our school is a much better place because of him.”

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Shane’s acceptance speech included a powerful and motivating message to the younger student-athletes in attendance, sharing “Before I go, I have one thing to say: For every sports superstar there are hundreds of athletes working just as hard, day after day, to reach their goals; be that athlete, push yourself to the limit and keep pushing, because, at the end of the day, that’s what you’ll be proud of.”

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We are extremely proud of Shane’s scholarship, as well as all of his accomplishments during his time at BFA Fairfax.  He has been a leader and role model for others, and will undoubtedly experience continued success next year at the University of Vermont as the Green and Gold Scholar.  Congratulations Shane!

Good Health and Well-Being


Geri Witalec

 

Geri Witalec-Krupa is an Athletic Director/Assistant Principal at BFA Fairfax is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You follow her @GLWit  

THE FWSU STORY: Rising Practices that Converge to Transform Education

When I was an English major in college, one of my favorite authors was Flannery O’Connor. Toward the end of her life, she wrote a collection of short stories entitled Everything That Rises Must Converge. I loved that book of stories and remember thinking about what the title meant in relationship to each of the characters in those nine stories. But more than anything, what stuck with me was that title, which seemed so loaded with meaning that I have rolled it over and over in my mind perennially. Long after my undergraduate days, I learned that “Everything that rises must converge” was actually a quote from a French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. As I dug more deeply into de Chardin’s work, it helped to shift my thinking about education and how it evolves, moves forward, and had the potential to rise up.

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So, if you follow me on Twitter, you know my handle is @Educate4ward. One of the ways I have always aspired to lead is by being a forward thinker, “moving ever upward toward greater consciousness,”  understanding, and meaning. At the same time, I continually try to work out how seemingly disparate educational ideas or goals can converge into something coherent, important, and worthy of rising up to capture our professional attention, collective wisdom, and energy as educators.

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If “everything that rises must converge,” then are potential convergences actually the “bright spots” in the areas of implementation that can sometimes feel overwhelming to educators? Is “convergence” the key to maintaining “a belief in what is possible?”

Last Monday, October 29, various personnel who support teachers and students presented to our FWSU New Teachers at Professional Practice Forum. One of those teachers, Harold Vance, is our high school’s Flexible Pathways Coordinator. Harold shared the following graphic, which inspired lots of follow-up discussion on what the progression of areas of flexible pathways looked like from elementary to middle to high school. Some of that follow-up discussion included questions about enlarging experiences in innovation labs, Farm to School, and Project-based Learning and Service Learning with community partners, which would include a more intentional approach using these rising practices to carve out flexible pathways to ensure students’ authentic opportunities for voice and agency in the curriculum.

Could the convergence of some of these authentic experiences our students are having in elementary and middle school establish the progression of flexible pathways? What could the intentional approach to this progression look like? What “rising practices” are possible?

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Over the weekend, a Curriculum Director and blogger I admire greatly, Michael Berry, shared that he had just finished the book The Art of Possibility. I had forgotten about that book and was able to pull it out again and remember why the ideas resonated.

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The book is truly about “a belief in what is possible” and how the convergence of the personal and the professional can inspire energy, creativity, and forward thinking in our life and work. One of the taglines in the book that stuck with me was “It’s all invented.” My takeaway from the book was to look for the connectedness in what was disconnected and move the ideas forward, converging their value to invent a new, coherent version of something that seemed unrelated: rising practices.

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By converging seemingly divergent ideas and goals into connected and coherent possibilities and then practices, are we better positioned to improve learning and reduce initiative fatigue?

Finally, this year Superintendent Kirsch kicked off  our school year by asking us to make the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) our “why.” By encouraging us to put the SDGs into action in every classroom, the convergence of student leadership and proficiency-based personalized learning becomes another set of rising practices connected to an authentic, meaningful purpose: “Act locally, think globally.”  The Sustainable Development Goals as the center of student-centered learning represent an opportunity for further important convergence– the convergence of the four FWSU Vision Targets: proficiency-based, personalized learning, student-centered leadership, flexible learning, and engaged community partners.

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If we were to include a K-12 “flexible pathways” progression using the SDGs as a vehicle, could the convergence of newly synthesized “rising practices” including proficiency-based learning, personalization, project-based and service learning, student voice and agency, flexible learning environments, and engaging our community partners in the global goals work actually shift the entire learning landscape of public education? Is convergence the key to transformation?

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The ultimate convergence — staccato initiatives pulled together into a meaningful whole — can move education from a series of narrow views to an expansive horizon of the possible. As we deepen our learning about the student-centered practices discussed in this post, we do raise their value to our learners. Convergence of rising ideas, goals, practices, and initiatives is vital to improving student learning and to making progress in education. But most importantly, convergence could create real transformation in education. moving it forward and upward to better and greater outcomes for our learners.


Linda Keating

Linda Keating is the Director of Curriculum at FWSU. She is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow her on Twitter @Educate4ward

 

THE FWSU STORY: The Fairfax Long Range Facilities Planning Committee is Looking For Your Feedback

The Long Range Facilities Planning Committee (LRFPC) consisting of community members, school board representatives, administrators, staff members, and parents continue the process of developing recommendations to address the future needs of our school building.

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The charge of this committee is to determine the facility requirements that will support current and future educational, safety and physical needs of our students, staff, and community for the next twenty-five years.

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At the same time, remaining aware of the fiscal constraints of our budget and community.

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The committee developed a list of improvement projects that have been identified through input from our community, school personnel, and building assessments.

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We are asking for community members to rate each project in terms of how important that item is for you in an overall building plan. The projects have been separated into four different categories: (1) Safety, (2) Efficiencies, (3) Accessibility and (4) Opportunity.

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Please complete this Building Improvement Questionnaire for the BFA Fairfax School to provide input to the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee by clicking on this link below:

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Or you can access the survey using this QR Code:

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There will also be paper copies of the questionnaire and drop boxes located at the Fairfax Green Senior Housing, the BFA Fairfax Library, the Post Office, and the Fairfax Town Office.


Please feel free to contact Tom Walsh or John Tague if you have any questions or concerns at twalsh@fwsu.org and/or jtague@fwsu.org.  We look forward to continuing to engage our community in a process that serves our students for the next several decades.

 

THE FWSU STORY: Fire Safety Day Sparks Life-Saving Learning in Fletcher

To celebrate Fire Safety Month in October, the Fletcher Elementary School welcomed a special visit from the Cambridge Fire Department.

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Cambridge Fire Department firefighter Elizabeth Rowe gives a high-five to Fletcher Elementary School preschooler Malachi O’Reilly during a fire safety presentation earlier this month.

Three firefighters taught a series of 45-minute lessons on fire safety to each of Fletcher’s preschool through sixth-grade classes. The teaching included a review of the gear and equipment used by firefighters, strategies for staying safe in the event of a fire, and a tour of a real-life fire-rescue truck.

One of the department’s newest members, Rollie the robotic fire truck, was also a highlight. Rollie has the ability to move around, has flashing red lights, and can carry on a conversation with students via remote control. Behind the scenes, the voice of Rollie typically belongs to Firefighter Kristy Wyckoff, who answered students’ questions and posed thought-provoking scenarios that helped students plan for potential fire emergencies at home.

Fletcher Elementary students explore a Fire Rescue Truck during Fire Safety Month

Students from the Fletcher Elementary School explore a rescue truck from the Cambridge Fire Department during a lesson on Fire Safety on Oct. 5. This month is Fire Safety Month nationwide.

“I learned that firefighters use their air tanks to breath in clean air instead of smoke,” third-grader Stephen Duchaine said. “Their gear is used to protect themselves. It’s important that they come to school because they can teach us how to be safe.”

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, there is an average of 1,500 home fires in the US every day, causing 6,500 deaths and 280,000 injuries annually. During the lifetime of an average home, chances are two to one that there will be an accidental fire.

Wyckoff and her fellow firefighters, Dave Fay and Elizabeth Rowe, encouraged students to install and maintain smoke detectors and to have a reunification plan outside the home in the event of a fire. While donning her gear, Rowe and her colleagues also reassured students that firefighters are there to help, and not to be afraid of all of the equipment.

Students at Fletcher Elementary practice fire safety

Cambridge Fire Department firefighter Elizabeth Rowe teaches Fletcher Elementary School students how to stop, drop and roll during a lesson about fire safety.

“Our goal is to make learning about fire prevention fun and enjoyable for all involved. Safety is our number one priority, Wyckoff said.

“We had to practice our stop drop and roll,” first-grader Emily Savage said. “And we had to cover our faces to protect ourselves. You can crawl if there is a fire. You should stay low because the smoke rises up. You have to know what to do when you have a fire in your house.”

On average, eight out of ten fire-related deaths are the result of smoke inhalation, the NFPA report cites.

“I learned how firefighters put out fire, fourth-grader Cody Savage said. “Taking away the oxygen is one way and using water is another way. The equipment is super heavy. I learned to not hide anywhere and try to get out and not to be scared of the firefighters. There is a helping person under all of the equipment.”

According to a 2017 report authored by the Vermont State Fire Marshall, of the 40,000 emergencies to which firefighters responded that year, “residential properties account for the majority of structure fires and civilian fatalities.”  The report also states that Vermont has historically had a higher than average fire fatality rate per capita. Nationwide, the National Fire Protection Association estimates that 25 percent of all structure fires are in residential construction and account for 83 percent of fire deaths and 77 percent of injuries.

“The more students practice safety routines, the more it will become second nature in the event of an actual emergency,” third-grade teacher Tracey Godin said. “We are fortunate that these volunteers give up their time every year to support the safety and wellbeing of our students.”

Good Health and Well-Being


Chris and Jackson

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: 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.

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Miss Sweet’s PM Class

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Mrs. Howrigan’s PM Class

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Mr. Anthony’s Afternoon Class

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Mr. Anthony’s Morning Class

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Mrs. Howrigan’s Morning Class

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Miss Sweet’s Morning Class

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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: BFA Fairfax Students Visit Summer Cultural Exchange Partners in China

At this moment, eight BFA Fairfax students and two teachers, Sara Villeneuve and Emily Nieckarz are exploring China as part of a cultural exchange in cooperation with SPIRAL International.

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BFA Fairfax has worked with SPIRAL for many years through our Summer Exchange Program.

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Typically, Chinese students spend two weeks in the summer living with Fairfax families and experiencing the culture of Vermont.

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Our students left Vermont on Friday morning and arrived in Shanghai for a brief stop en route to Chongqing. They visited schools and explored the city during their time in the city.

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Their next stop was Chengdu where they visited more schools and got to see pandas!

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Tonight, they are in their final stop, the city of Guangzhou. They are sharing pictures through social media throughout the trip.

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For this blog post, we are sticking to the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” and anticipating a future blog post from the students describing their trip in great details.

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Teacher Emily Nieckarz reported that “students are doing amazing, jumping in to participate and in total awe of the different culture, food, and traffic!”

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We can hardly wait to hear about their experience and are extremely proud of our BFA ambassadors!

Global Goal 17: Partnership for the Goals #teachSDGs


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John Tague is the Principal of BFA Fairfax Middle/High School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him @jtague252