THE FWSU STORY: Fletcher Elementary Welcomes New Teachers

The Fletcher Elementary School welcomed several new teachers to the school this fall, and they have begun the school year with tremendous enthusiasm and energy.

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We are fortunate to add the following professionals to our school:

Blythe Baskette is our new preschool special educator. Ms. Baskette earned both a Master’s Degree in Education from Saint Michael’s College, as well as a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Special Education. She has extensive experience in the field of Early Childhood Education as a childcare director and teacher. She has been a special educator and teacher at the elementary level for several years, as well as a behavior interventionist. Welcome, Ms. Baskette!

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Emily “Lisa” Coale joins our school as the new school counselor and PBIS coordinator. Ms. Coale earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Islamic Studies and Arabic from Middlebury College, as well as a Master’s Degree in Education with a concentration in School Counseling from George Mason University. She completed counseling internships at JFK Elementary School in Winooski and Colchester Middle School. Ms. Coale was a kindergarten teacher in the DC Public Schools for two years and received Middlebury College’s Kathryn Davis Fellowship, an award that recognizes students who build cross-cultural connections and international peace through language. Welcome, Ms. Coale!

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We welcome Jennifer McConnell to F.E.S. as our school’s music teacher. Ms. McConnell earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Church Music and Voice from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and a Master’s Degree in Music Education from Castleton State College. She has been the elementary music teacher at Franklin Central School since 2004. Ms. McConnell also taught in Sheldon as the general music and chorus teacher for several years. She will share her time between Franklin and Fletcher this year. Ms. McConnell enjoys composing music and being part of a small, tight-knit community. Welcome, Ms. McConnell!

Michele Michalski is a new first and second-grade teacher. Ms. Michalski earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies from California State University – Bernardino and a Master’s Degree in Education with a concentration in Reading and Language Arts, also from California State University. Ms. Michalski has completed a variety long-term teacher substitute assignments, most recently in third grade at BFA Fairfax as a third through fifth-grade academic interventionist. Ms. Michalski has taught all elementary grades, as well as preschool. Welcome, Ms. Michalski!

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Kathleen Pellegrino joins the F.E.S. team this year as a first and second-grade teacher. Ms. Pellegrino earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Multidisciplinary Studies with a minor in Science from Castleton University. Most recently, Ms. Pellegrino has served as a long-term substitute in third grade in Fair Haven and first grade in Sheldon. She comes to F.E.S. with a wealth of experience with young children including being a volunteer mentor for 10 to 12-year-olds. Welcome, Ms. Pellegrino!

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We are welcoming Phyllis Quarles as our new speech-language pathologist. Ms. Quarles will be half-time each at Fletcher and Georgia Elementary and Middle School. Ms. Quarles graduated from the University of Colorado – Boulder and alternated between working part-time and raising her family. She likes to mountain bike, dance, be in nature and is committed to the practice of meditation. Welcome, Ms. Quarles.

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Welcome to Justin Wills, our new sixth-grade teacher. Mr. Wills is a graduate of B.F.A. Fairfax, followed by earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy with a minor in Music from UVM. Additionally, Mr. Wills earned a Master’s Degree in Teaching with a concentration in Middle-Level Education from UVM, and a Master’s Degree in Philosophy from Concordia University in Montreal. Mr. Wills has taught middle school math, science and language arts at Browns River Middle School was a grade 5-8 middle school teacher in Williston and a sixth-grade classroom teacher in Swanton. Mr. Wills has served as a volunteer in a children’s hospital in Boston, as well as a mentor and Odyssey of the Mind coach here in Vermont. Welcome, Mr. Wills!

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We are also excited to have a few existing staff members in new positions this year.

Lorrene Palermo, a long-time classroom teacher here at F.E.S., will become our school-wide math and literacy interventionist. Ms. Palermo will work with students needing support in those academic areas four days per week. On her fifth day, she will teach library classes to all of our PK to grade six students.

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Denette Locke, who most recently has provided both academic intervention and teacher support with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (S.T.E.M.), will become a full-time instructional coach. She will be dedicating her time to supporting teachers in providing the highest quality instruction possible in S.T.E.M. and Literacy. Denette will not be directly responsible for student instruction other than that provided as part of teacher coaching.

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We are excited to be working with our new colleagues. Here’s to a great year!


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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: A Summer Look Behind the Scenes in IT

Summer is a time for students to relax, recharge and get some quality outdoor time. While they are away our schools are filled with staff making sure that everything is ready to go when students return. Today we want to feature or fabulous FWSU IT crew.

FWSU IT Technician Jason Smith assists an employee with a 1:1 Apple iPad device

FWSU IT Technician Jason Smith works on an iPad in Tech Central at BFA Fairfax

FWSU prides itself on the access to technology that our students and teachers have each day at school. Our philosophy has always been for our infrastructure and equipment to be easily accessible and not something that has to be thought about while in the classroom. Just like electricity, when you turn the switch on it just works. Of course, that’s easier said than done – but our team gets it done!

 

Here is a brief rundown of the work completed this summer at all of our schools:

  • Combined all 1:1 device management in a single system
  • Prepped and ready to deploy massive classroom management across the SU for both 1:1 and shared care devices
  • Institute SU-wide inventory management system 
  • Officially Centralized IT staffing into a mobile adaptable team that will cover all schools seamlessly.
  • BFA Fairfax deployed full google storage cloud-to-cloud backup system
  • Re-imaged Innovation Lab desktops computers
  • Prepped iPads for all students

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Thanks to Jody, Brendon, Jeff, Jason, and Carol for all of your work this summer!

THE FWSU STORY: Summer Learning on the BFA Fairfax School Farm

What happens on the Fairfax School Farm in summer?

Who takes care of the gardens, the berry nurseries, the construction projects?

When students and teachers are gone what happens?

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The BFA Fairfax Farm to School Club takes care of business! 

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 9:00 and 11:00 throughout the summer members of BFA’s Farm to School Club come in to work on the School Farm.  Thanks to their efforts the school gardens are thriving, growing the vegetables for our Harvest Dinner, and for schoolwide “taste-testing.” The students in the club all have other jobs but they do their best to free 2-3 mornings per week to keep the School Farm operating.

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Shane Seals sums it up well: “Summer Farm to School is a great experience to learn how to garden and take part in a farming environment. It’s a good way to give back to the community and help build a foundation for the future of the school. The program has an amazing amount of diversity.”

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The Club harvested and froze two gallons of blueberries that will find their way into the Farm to School Class’s kitchen curriculum in fall. They have timed the planting of vegetables so that the bulk of our produce will be available when school is in session. A portion of our summer harvests is donated to the Fairfax Food Shelf. When the garden is caught up, kids work on the chicken house or maintenance of the beehives. We are currently involved in clipping and drying parsley, sage, oregano, thyme. Each of the many tasks provides unique opportunities to learn.

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“During the summer work at Farm to School, I have been able to increase my gardening and building skills and gain overall worldly experience. We are all hard workers who enjoy each other and the fruits of our labor,” said Alyese Caruso-Randall.

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Isabelle Collum agrees, “Seeing your hard work pay off every week is such a rewarding experience, and knowing that you’re helping your school and community makes it so much better.”

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The club members understand the importance of their volunteer efforts. “Summer Farm to School is a fun creative way to integrate community service and easy learning. Farm to School is a very extensive program that allows people to enjoy what they are doing and learn more about it. In the future I hope to see more faces come and enjoy their summer the way I do,” said Farm to School Club President Caitlin Allan.

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But there is so much more involved than just work. Eli Silman adds it’s a great way to hang out with friends during the summer.” 

This may be the most important reason of all!


If you are interested in joining us this summer contact Farm to School Club President, Caitlin Allan.

THE FWSU STORY: Fletcher Community Honors Retiring Veteran Teacher Jenny Blackman

Mrs. Jennifer “Jenny” Blackman has taught Kindergarten at the Fletcher Elementary School for the past 13 years and is beloved by her students, their families, her colleagues and the community at large. She will retire from teaching in on Monday, with the tremendous respect of all who have had her as a teacher and those who have worked with her.

Jenny Blackman and Melissa Sargent-Minor

Jenny Blackman and Melissa Sargent-Minor

Present and former students, families, and colleagues honored Mrs. Blackman at a reception earlier this week, where the Fletcher School Board presented her with an apple tree, which she and her husband, Oliver, promptly planted near their pond at their Waterville home.

The Apple Tree

The Apple Tree

Mrs. Blackman has exemplified what it means to be a lifelong learner, graduating from Champlain College with her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education in the spring of 2016. She took great pride in sharing her extensive knowledge both with student teachers and with colleagues, including those at regional and national conferences such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children. She is a strong advocate for play as a learning tool and outdoor learning in the natural world. No matter who or what she is teaching, her strengths include honoring the natural curiosity of the student and balancing the academic and social curriculum.

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Mrs. Blackman served as the Co-Chair of the Lamoille North Standards Board, supporting the certification and relicensure of professional educators. She was a Lamoille North Literary Magazine judge, Upward Bound Instructor and Assistant Postmaster in Waterville. She has been a School Board Member, Lister, Welcome Baby Home Visitor for Waterville and Belvidere, Community Literacy Team Member, a member of the Vermont Philharmonic Orchestra, Johnson State College Concert Band and the Morrisville Military Band.

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Mrs. Blackman in her classroom with her students.

In 2004, her then Superintendent, Bob McNamara, wrote the following in his recommendation to the Fletcher School Board about Mrs. Blackman as she applied to join the F.E.S. staff.

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Mrs. Blackman with students on a field trip earlier this year.

“I find Jenny to be an active and engaging teacher. Her instructional goals are clear and her presentation is crisp and engaging. She holds the students’ attention and encourages them to actively engage in their learning.”

Students engage in many hands on learning activities in the classroom.

Students engage in many hands-on learning activities in the classroom.

Mrs. Blackman’s teaching has stood the test of time. As she says farewell to our school and teaching, her smile, humor, skill, and compassion become her legacy that lives on in the hearts and minds of those she taught.

Mrs. Blackman's smile and humor will be missed!

Mrs. Blackman’s smile and humor will be missed!

Thank you, Mrs. Blackman. 

THE FWSU STORY: Researching & Developing A Solution For Plastic Waste at GEMS

Early this year, FWSU offered educators an opportunity to earn a FWSU micro-credential based upon the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Eric Hadd, an Educational Technology Specialist at GEMS, was one of the first to earn the micro-credential based on his work with his students. Throughout the year,  he continues to provide students with opportunities to develop solutions towards the goal of ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

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Throughout the year, as several students design projects using the 3D printer, the first prototypes created can often be unusable and therefore produce plastic waste. Two students enrolled in Mr. Eric Hadd’s choice class, Research and Development Lab, recently took on the challenge to find a way to reduce the PLA (Polylactic acid) plastic waste generated in the GEMS innovation lab. This work ties in with Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production which is to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. One of the targets of Goal 12 includes using eco-friendly production methods and reducing the amount of waste.  

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Inspired by Precious Plastic’s challenge to start collaborating and boost plastic recycling,  Jason and Logan began work to modify and improve plastic smoothies, a method of turning 3D printer plastic into useable items. Precious Plastic is a global community of hundreds of people working towards a solution to plastic pollution.  This organization works to reduce plastic waste and create tools that make it easier to start recycling plastic.

During their choice class, the boys developed a practical, useable procedure to repurpose the PLA Plastic waste into a usable sheet of plastic. These sheets of plastic can then be used by other students to design with using the laser cutter. Students have already made jewelry items using the recycled plastic.

Documenting all of their trials, errors, and successes, in their research and development journal, the team is working to create a user-friendly procedure to be published on the Instructables website. Instructables is a website specializing in user-created and uploaded do-it-yourself projects, which other users can comment on and rate for quality.


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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.  

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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.  

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BFA Bullets on the field!

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BFA Fairfax Bullets Football

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Soccer under the lights!

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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.

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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!

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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: 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.

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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.

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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.

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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