December 2019

Happy Holidays! This time of year is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the ways in which students come together to share with each other and the community. 


November 17: The Vermont Youth Climate Congress convened at the Statehouse to ratify the Young Vermonters United Climate Declaration. The group of more than 170 youth included students from OSSU. To read the declaration and add your name as a citizen co-signer, click HERE.


On a cold, snowy morning just before winter break, sixth-graders from OSSU’s unified elementary district – Lakeview, Woodbury and Hardwick – gathered for a morning of nature-based education. Hardwick Elementary students shared skills from their ECO program (Educating Children Outdoors), leading their peers in tree identification, sawing technique and shelter-building activities. Springtime gatherings are in the works for Lakeview and Woodbury students to host and share their campuses and skills.

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Student artisans from the Hazen Artisan and Entrepreneurship Academy participate in the annual WonderArts Holiday Market in Craftsbury:



“Friendsgiving” meals planned and cooked by Hazen students.  1) Hazen Connections program, 2) A senior TSA,  3) Seventh-grade Creating the World We Want class:

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Vermont Learning for the Future (VTLFF) is a statewide network, dedicated to building a more just, joyful and sustainable future for our schools and communities.” Several OSSU educators and students will be attending the winter summit. For others who are interested, information and registration links are below. Registration is FREE!

VTLFF Winter Summit
February 12 – Capitol Plaza, Montpelier

The Winter 2020 Summit is designed to bring together a diverse group of partners of all ages aligned around aspirations for equity, sustainability and joy for all Vermont learners. Participants will engage in shared learning that builds cohesion around our goals, hear from and support partners developing transformative practices, and collaborate in designing and nurturing ongoing networks projects of our own. Areas of focus include:

  • Ethnic and Social Equity in Education
  • Personalized, Learner-Centered, Proficiency-Based Learning
  • Place-Based, Integrated, and Project-Based Learning
  • Youth-Adult Partnership in Learning
  • Education for Sustainability, Civic Engagement and Action
  • Cultivating Creativity, Joy and Wonder in Learning


VTLFF summits are free and open. We support active youth participation and the elevation of traditionally marginalized voices. We are a learning organization and welcome feedback to help us grow and partner more equitably and effectively. Thank you!



November 2019

Happy Thanksgiving season! There’s much to be thankful for and inspired by this month. Here’s to reflection and gratitude and community!


Spotlight on Woodbury and Lakeview Schools: The three OSSU elementary schools newly unified in the OSUED district (Hardwick, Woodbury and Lakeview) continue to develop collaborations and opportunities for district-wide community-building. The three schools have been engaging in a campus visioning process to identify how each school provides unique opportunities and strengths to support the whole OSUED community. In this issue, we spotlight Woodbury Elementary and Lakeview Elementary, OSSU’s two smallest schools, who are both thinking big when it comes to student engagement and community connections. 

Woodbury Elementary School: Community connections, outdoor learning opportunities and student collaboration are being emphasized through new partnerships, schedule adjustments, teacher development, and integrated curriculum. Students have explored their community through arts field trips, guest presenters on agriculture and public safety, prototyping projects with Central VT Solid Waste Management District, a whole school hike on the school trails, a penpal program with peers from Hardwick Elementary, and a cultural exchange with a Nicaraguan dance teacher. A new partnership with Earthwalk is in the works to support student exploration of their natural community. Community-building is also the focus of the guidance program, led this year by Woodbury’s new Principal Craig Wilson, who is excited by the opportunity to support student-centered practices throughout the school. Student-centered school structures include common learning blocks to support independent projects, extra movement time for K-2, and a Community Helpers program for older students who take on leadership roles as mentors and school stewards. 

Lakeview Elementary School: On a recent Agency of Education Integrated Field Review, visitors to Lakeview interviewed staff, parents, students and administrators. Justine Guthrie, Lakeview’s new principal, described how moving it was to experience the reviewers reflecting – with tears in their eyes – on how clearly students had articulated the culture of inclusivity at Lakeview.  In the visioning process, teachers and staff identify arts, environmental/outdoor ed, and community collaborations as the key ingredients of Lakeview’s school culture. Logistics and resources for supporting and growing these initiatives are part of the work moving forward. There are already plans to bring the OSUED schools together at the Highland Center for the Arts for a Vermont Symphony Orchestra musician-in-residence program. In the meantime, at the 20th annual Harvest Luncheon, community, local food and inclusive culture were all on display as students and community members shared a delicious meal.

ECHO Update: The OSUED partnership with ECHO Leahy Center is bringing new resources for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) to our elementary schools. This month, ECHO educators visited with demonstration lessons and students can be seen below using the design thinking process to prototype and test “butterfly launchers.” Also in ECHO/OSUED news – save the date for a community science night coming up in the spring on March 26th! This event aims to strengthen education and help create a bond between schools, families and community partners. ECHO will bring a truckload of fun, interactive, thought-provoking exhibits and activities, and a variety of businesses, community organizations and school partners will also participate in this celebration of our community. Stay tuned for more information!


Wolcott Garden Day: The fourth annual All-School Garden Work Day at Wolcott Elementary was a full day of incredible positive energy and teamwork. Students planted fruit trees, bulbs and garlic, set up the low tunnel for winter greens, treasure hunted for lost carrots, and pressed cider with some of this season’s apple bounty.

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Craftsbury Self-Expressions: At the end of the first 8-week series of self-expressions classes, CA middle-schoolers reflected on their experiences at a share-out event with peers, school staff and community partners. Presentations included a gallery walk of visual journals, screenings of student films, demonstrations of design technology projects, slideshow and reflection on the personal and team growth experienced through mountain biking, and a taste test served up by student chefs. Partners such as Wonderarts/SPARK! and Craftsbury Outdoor Center helped support this pilot series.


Agricultural Independent-Based Learning (IBL) Trips to Barr Hill and VT Statehouse:
On Friday,  October 11, eight Hazen ninth-graders visited Greensboro’s 256-acre Barr Hill Natural Area where they met Barr Hill Stewardship Committee members Clive Gray and Nancy Hill. Clive and Nancy shared about the history of the Preserve and the hard work and dedication that goes into land conservation. The students also studied maps of conserved land and the wildlife corridor, and they made a visit to the Greensboro Town Clerk to view land records from the 1800s. A few weeks later, students traveled to the VT Statehouse for an opportunity to meet with Lt. Governor Zuckerman who hosted a discussion with the group about youth initiatives and priorities, empowering Vermont youth to participate in civic engagement, Vermont values, community supported agriculture, and climate change. The students learned about the work and dedication that goes into keeping Vermont communities progressing while sustaining Vermont’s heritage. ~ submitted by Charlene Ramsay


AOE Grant for OSSU Makerspace: The VT Agency of Education (AOE) has awarded OSSU a grant to pilot a PLP-driven, student-designed makerspace course and classroom at Hazen. Students will use the PLP (personalized learning plan) as a tool to co-design and develop curriculum with teachers and community partners, resulting in a transferable model for the supervisory union. SPARK! makerspace in Greensboro is already a community partner, and Generator in Burlington will be a major new collaborator for this project as well. Congratulations!

Late October 2019

Hazen Artisan and Entrepreneurship Academy update:

The five new academy classes are in full swing! Field trips and guest speakers are a hallmark of these community-connected, entrepreneurial courses, and already students have visited farms, maker spaces, local businesses, a crafts show, and hosted several guest experts and speakers, with many more to come. These experiences are part of exploring and researching facets of the marketplace as three of the classes work toward developing products for a holiday market. Teachers, working with the academy coordinator and students, are designing proficiencies, indicators, and learning scales for each of the classes and participating in collaborative professional development to continue to develop the program.  A total of 44 students are enrolled in the fall semester academy classes and another 20 have been connected to interviews, job shadows, internships, employment, and personalized learning opportunities since June. Many other students attend the weekly speaker series coordinated by the Career Cafe class. 

  • Artisan Craft Fair field trip
  • Career Cafe featuring guest speaker Evan Karp

Want to learn more about the Hazen Artisan and Entrepreneurship Academy? Drop by Front Seat Coffee on Nov. 21 from 4-5 pm for a meet-and-greet to answer your questions!

** This event is part of the NEK Entrepreneurship Week! ** 


CA Self-Expressions: The Craftsbury Academy middle grades have begun their first series of classes in the new Self-Expressions program which takes place every Monday. This quarter, the classes being offered include visual journaling and design squad (both pictured here) as well as cooking, mountain biking (in collaboration with the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, videography (in collaboration with WonderArts/Spark!), and more!


Youth speakers featured at Atkins pavilion grand opening celebration: At the grand opening for a new timberframe pavilion at Atkins Field* local students were central to the evening’s festivities. Not only did three local students speak to a full crowd about their appreciation for Atkins Field as an extended classroom space, but the structure itself was decorated with a student designed art installation of barn quilt paintings. Even before the official grand opening event, the student-led climate strike in Hardwick was actually the first community event to grace the pavilion’s new space.

* Atkins Field is a community commons in Hardwick owned by the Center for an Agricultural Economy. Currently, the space features community gardens, public orchard, farmers market, bicycle pump track, trails, wintertime skating rink and many community events.


School-community harvest meals: 

  • HES hosted its eighth (we think!) annual Community Harvest Dinner, serving 416 people with a huge, all school effort, including visits to local farms to harvest and glean ingredients.

  • Hazen’s open house now features both a resource fair and a free community meal full of local ingredients and dishes made by students. Cider-pressing was a new addition this year.


2019 NEK Leads Gathering

November 14, 2019 | Burke Mtn. Hotel & Conference

Join other innovative leaders for a day of workshops, speakers, and networking focused on making our region more vibrant and accessible.

  • Hear inspiring stories of community success

  • Access tools and skills to support community initiative

  • Engage in envisioning the future of leadership in the region 

  • Connect with other projects, partners, and resources



Educational Equity Professional Development (from VT-HEC)

  • Free, on-demand webinar series:  Click HERE
  • Low-cost Workshop Series:  
    • 11/19/19: Girls, Women, and the Persistence of Gender Oppression in Schools  Click HERE
    • 3/24/20: Ridding Schools of Racism: From Equity Optics to Equity Action  Click HERE
    • 4/15/20: An Economic Justice Approach to Eliminating Socioeconomic Inequities in Schools  Click HERE

Early September 2019


Dear OSSU,

It’s getting harder to keep up with you! Just in the first few weeks of school there is already so much to share and celebrate! Not a bad problem to have 🙂

Here’s a brief tour of highlights and things to look forward to:

This photo captures the spirit of school-based learning that extends into the community and inspires student agency, even through the summer months. Here, Hazen student-entrepreneur Emily Molleur sells her handmade aromatherapy products at the Hardwick Farmers Market – an enterprise inspired by her experience in a J-Term class.img_20190726_172519


Inservice Week: Thank you OSSU faculty and staff for your collaborative work during inservice week in preparation for the new year. Working with the themes of reflective practice and student agency, imagining the best case futures for your schools and how to get there, coordinating the vision and logistics for exciting new integrated learning initiatives and community partnerships – the positive, creative energy was palpable and has set an amazing tone for the year.


In the first weeks of school:

  • Students from HES, Craftsbury, Hazen Connections Program and the ENTIRE Wolcott school take gleaning field trips to Brown’s Beautiful Blueberries. Their berry harvests are already being integrated into school lunches and into plans for upcoming community harvest
  • Superintendent Adam Rosenberg convenes the first meeting of a new Community Partners Coalition, working to increase the collective impact of school-community partnerships.
  • Four new Hazen Artisan and Entrepreneurship Academy classes launch by touring the town of Hardwick on a local business scavenger hunt, and inviting local craftspeople into the classroom.
  • Hazen Green Team (with more than triple the participants from last year) meets to begin planning for the climate strike on September 20 (12:30 pm at Atkins Field for those who would like to join). Pictured below: team members multi-tasking by processing local tomatoes for the cafeteria while discussing plans for the climate strike. 
  • OSSU Equity Team holds its first meeting with representatives from all six schools and the community. 
  • A new class at CA offers high school students an integrated, place-based math, science, social studies and restorative practice course focused on the Academy Woodlot and supported by an advisory board of over ten community partners.

Looking ahead:

  • Hazen’s Career Cafe, which brought in over two dozen guest speakers from the local community last year, is now being designed and run by students in a new high school English class as part of the Artisan and Entrepreneurship Academy.
  • CA middle school is gearing up for an innovative “Self-Expressions” program which will offer non-traditional, experiential classes each Monday. Students will choose two self-expressions classes each quarter and the learning will be facilitated by both CA teachers and community partners. Another element of this new program will be weekly community meetings, designed with the intention of meeting the developmental needs of adolescents and building community. 
  • The 7th-grade team at Hazen did a ton of collaborative planning together over the summer! At the Community Engagement Lab‘s Creative Schools Initiative program, the team designed an integrated unit around water and climate change that will also include seven days with a teaching artist-in-residence.

  • Upcoming Harvest Celebrations!
    • Hazen: September 23, 4:30 – 6:30 pm, Harvest Meal at Open House
    • HES: October 24, 5 – 6:30 pm, Community Harvest Dinner
    • Wolcott: November 1, Fall Fest and Garden Workday
    • CA: October 16, School-community harvest dinner
    • Woodbury: Date TBD – stay tuned!
    • Lakeview: November 15, 11:15 Harvest Luncheon
  • The Atkins Field Pavilion Grand Opening Celebration will feature local students in its program of speakers, as well as a student art installation. Come enjoy delicious heritage food, dance to live music, celebrate the community support that made the pavilion possible, and hear how students have extended their learning out into the community through engaging projects at Atkins Field.PavilionfinalOpeningInvitation



Issue #34: Late July

Dear OSSU Educators,
I’m betting it would be truly impressive to take an inventory of all the professional development that you are engaging in this summer…

So let’s do it! Send an email to briefly describing the program, course or learning you’ve been doing. I look forward to hearing from you and being able to paint a picture of the collective skill-building that has been happening in preparation for the new year!

* * *

ECHO Center Partnership with OSUED: The new Orleans Southwest Unified Elementary District composed of Woodbury, Lakeview and Hardwick Elementary Schools is engaging in an exciting new partnership with the ECHO Leahy Center. ECHO has recently expanded its science education mission to reach communities beyond Chittenden County with support for innovative and collaborative place-based STEM curriculum. (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.)
After visiting to meet with school leaders, teachers and community partners, ECHO invited the OSUED to become one of six pilot sites to participate in its new outreach program. The OSUED was thrilled to accept! This year, ECHO will work with the district to design and implement high quality STEM curriculum through needs assessment, coaching, professional development, science kit materials, curriculum design, and a community science night. ECHO’s approach is to work closely with the schools to build a partnership that addresses the particular needs of the school and its community. Stay tuned for more as the partnership progresses!

* * *

The Hazen Artisan and Entrepreneurship Academy will launch this fall with five new classes: Building Businesses and Bridges, Woodcraft to Market, Printmaking for Profit, Career Cafe Crew, and Artisan Trade Independent Study. The Academy’s new coordinator, Hilary Maynard, began working with teachers this summer at Ed Camp during a full-day planning and leadership development retreat. Attending the retreat were 15 Hazen staff, 10 community partners, and 3 students. An amazing day of critical reflection and co-creation!

* * *

Opportunity: NEK Leadership Institute
The NEKLI, a program created by NorthWoods Stewardship Center with support from the Northeast Kingdom Collaborative, seeks to challenge, support, and promote leaders who serve in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. This initiative provides participants with the tools, resources, and connections that will enable them to be more effective leaders, as they address challenges in their work and in their communities. The program consists of 6 sessions, including one overnight, totaling 7 seminar days between November 2019 and April 2020. Each session is held in a different part of the Northeast Kingdom to convey a sense of region’s rich historic, geographic and cultural diversity.
Free of cost for the applicants selected! CLICK HERE TO APPLY

Issue #33: Early July

This issue zooms out to share some of the OSSU happenings at the supervisory union level.

First up, a warm welcome to new OSSU Superintendent, Adam Rosenberg! On a recent visit to the CAE, Adam shared that the vibrant ecosystem of community partnerships in OSSU was a big part of what drew him to this position. Cheers to existing and future partnerships and to ongoing investment in cultivating their potential for supporting transformational learning!

In the introduction to his transition plan, Adam describes his focus as Superintendent:

Building off of the OSSU Framework for Continuous Growth, my focus will be on cultivating agency through reflective practice: student agency in order to fulfill our vision statement, staff agency to create a system of distributed leadership, and community agency to engage community members and parents in and create diverse opportunities for student learning.

You can read Adam’s reflections as he dives into OSSU by following him on Twitter at @LearnerBased

Equity in Schools:

  • On March 29th, Act 1, took effect in the State of Vermont. This act creates an Ethnic and Social Equity Standards Advisory Working Group to review student performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education and, on or before June 30, 2021, recommend to the State Board updates and additional standards to recognize fully the history, contributions and perspectives of ethnic groups and social groups.
  • OSSU community members, in solidarity with families of color, organized to attend the May meeting of the OSSU School Board to speak out about the racism experienced by students in our schools and the need for a shared commitment to engage in the long-term work of finding solutions and taking action to undo racism in our community.
  • OSSU administrators Heather Freeman, Amy Massé , Joanne LeBlanc and Tess Martin attended an Undoing Racism training in NYC with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. This training began by examining poverty and its structural causes, then moved to an exploration of the history of race and racism in our society.
  • Equity Literacy Grant: OSSU, Montpelier-Roxbury and Southwest Vermont school districts were together awarded a $44,000 Equity Literacy Grant from the State of Vermont. Beginning July 1, this grant supports critical training for administrators and staff to build capacity for addressing racial and social inequities within our systems. Additionally, a District Equity Team composed of teachers, students, administration, parents, community and local businesses, will meet once a month to help develop goals for this work. Project partners and resources include the Vermont Coalition for Ethnic and Social Equity in Schools, CQ Strategies LLC and WholeHeart, Inc.

Beefing up local beef in schools: The OSSU food service programs have set a shared goal of  purchasing more of their beef locally. Through a partnership with Jasper Hill Farm, the six schools will source an estimated 1100 pounds of local, organic beef for school lunches in the 2019-20 school year. Yum! This aligns with a new statewide goal signed into law in May that states: by the year 2022 school boards operating a school lunch, breakfast, or summer meals program shall purchase at least 20 percent of all food for those programs from local producers.

Issue #32: Late June

** Click here for a list of local 2019 Summer Meals Sites where youth eat for free. **


HES Sustainability Fair: For the past few years, Hardwick Elementary has been building a shared vision for incorporating sustainability as a unifying theme across the school. This year, staff, students and community partners worked together to hold the first annual HES Sustainability Fair – a day full of interactive presentations and peer-to-peer learning showcasing the sustainability topics studied by each grade throughout the year. For example, sixth-graders worked with Central Vermont Solid Waste District to conduct a school waste audit this spring and shared a sorting game and audit findings at the Fair. Second-graders learned about planting and nurturing seeds in order to grow pumpkins for Hardwick’s annual pumpkin walk, and then led a seed-starting station at the Sustainability Fair to teach their peers. Other projects included recycled art, natural and cultural history signage for Atkins Field, the ‘3 Cares’ of self, others and community practiced in the ECO (Educating Children Outdoors) model, and a salsa taste test and label design competition for a homemade school salsa being developed to help fund-raise for the school gardens. Despite being quite parking-lot bound, HES frequently makes use of outdoor learning spaces. For the Sustainability Fair, student presentations were set up on the playground, in the woods above the athletic field, and all over Atkins Field (a community green space a short walk from the school.) 

Pics from grade-level sustainability units during the school year:

Sustainability Fair Slideshow:

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Hazen J-Term:

Those of you who had the opportunity to attend Hazen’s J-Term Expo might have sampled homemade aromatherapy products, ordered a slice of artisan pizza hot out of the mud oven, bought a raffle ticket for a beautiful barn quilt painting, or caught a performance from the Kiss cover band. And all of that before you even stepped inside the school building where hallways were lined with student project presentations on everything from fly-fishing to print-making, mountain-biking, first aid, dairy farming, ceramics, cultural exchange to Mexico, and many more! J-Term offers students two weeks of special interest seminars at the end of the school year. Piloted two years ago by the middle school, the program has grown to include the high-school. Students choose three seminars for the term and develop a deep-dive project in one of the three. These are the projects showcased at the Expo. For a further glimpse into two of the J-Term classes, ‘Healthy Eating’ and ‘Barn Quilts,’ see the slideshows below! Note: Community partnerships, field trips, and student leadership were key components of both of these classes, as well as many others.

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Summer PD opportunities (compiled by Vermont Learning for the Future):

  • Shelburne Farms Education for Sustainability – 2-day, 5-day and year-long professional development opportunities with internationally renowned programming, facilities and staff. Graduate credit and scholarships available.
  • Proficiency-Based Learning: A Framework for Clarity and EquityAugust 5-9. Led by Mike Martin and hosted by the Champlain Valley Education Development Center, this course will provide structures and strategies that help clarify next steps for teachers and school leaders who are engaged in this work and are responsible for communicating this change to students, families and the wider community. The operating assumption is that proficiency-based learning will improve equitable student outcomes through greater precision, transparency, and relevance thanks to intentionally structured learning activities and assessment.
  • Abenaki Culture in the Classroom – presented by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Through lectures and experiential learning, Vermont Abenaki Artists Association scholars, historians and culture bearers provide teachers with a deeper understanding of how indigenous culture continues into the 21st century and how to support Abenaki and Native students while presenting American history. August 8-10. Graduate credit available through Castleton University.
  • Discovering Community Summer InstituteAugust 12-15. presented by The Vermont Folklife Center. Educators from across the state will gather for a four-day intensive at The Fairbanks Museum. The course provides an introduction to collaborative ethnography and digital storytelling for the classroom, offering hands-on experience for methods of community-based research and documentary media making. Three graduate credits available through Castleton University.
  • PhD in Educational Leadership, Social justice & Equity – A low-residency program offered by Southern New Hampshire University. Participants meet in person one Saturday per month and a week in the summers (Summer 2019 at Loon Mountain, August 5-9) and degree completion can be done in three to five years.  There is no regional cohort requirement for this program – participants who wish to consider equity work deeply through doctoral study are welcome to apply for acceptance as individuals. Application deadline is July 1. Contact Kelsea Moulton, Program Coordinator ( or call the Vermont Campus office at 802-489-5080.  
  • Courageous Conversations: Beyond Diversity with Luis Versalles, Pacific Educational Group – A two-day seminar hosted by the Champlain Valley Education Development Center that helps teachers, students, and administrators understand the impact of race on our lives, our work and our learning. Interactive and stirring exercises strength participants’ critical consciousness of race and leads them to investigate the role that racism plays in institutionalizing achievement disparities. Most importantly, it models and teaches a protocol for discussing race in ways that are productive insightful, and generative. September 24-25, at the Hampton Inn in Colchester

Issue #31: Late May/Early June

There is always far more amazing, place-based learning going on in OSSU than this little blog can keep up with, and it’s even more true this time of year as special projects and outdoor activities abound. So enjoy this issue’s selection of stories, and know that more will be coming throughout the summer!


Craftsbury Academy Career Day

On May 31, Craftsbury Academy hosted a Career Fair featuring over 45 community members.  The event was organized as a class project by students from grades 9-12 in Leadership Class. The event began with an introduction from Rusty Dewees followed by sessions of 11 different panels representing 11 different career clusters.  The second session consisted of 6 presentations including the Morrisville Police Department K-9 unit and a culinary demonstration from the New England Culinary Institute. Each panel was hosted by two high school students who introduced the presenters or panelists and then facilitated questions from the audience consisting of Craftsbury students grade 6-12 and Wolcott Elementary’s sixth grade. – submitted by CA student leadership team


May 13-17 was Hazen’s second annual Service Week! You may have read about it in the Hardwick Gazette, or seen the banner in downtown Hardwick, but here (below) is a deeper visual dive into some of the 18 different projects that took place at school and in the surrounding community. Service Week is coordinated by the Partners in Learning Team, a collaboration between community members, school board members, student leaders, WonderArts Vermont, The Center for an Agricultural Economy, VSAC‘s Aspirations Program and Hazen Union High School.


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Some nuggets of evidence of Service Week’s impact:

  • Students singing at the top of their lungs while they pulled weeds in the Hazen greenhouse.
  • Student internship and job shadowing opportunities identified while working at host sites.
  • Teacher: “It was great to see the kids really find their flow and enjoy working together.”
  • Project host: “I was out for a walk on the trails last night and saw Marlene’s trail. Wow! This is a hard working group! Thanks so much for everything.”
  • Student: “That place was amazing – it was so inspiring to be there!” (reflecting on service project at Heartbeet)

And a note from one work site host:

Just wanted to say that this service week is my favorite week of the year. I LOVE working with your students they are WONDERFUL and dedicated and awesome… I just really appreciated the students’ willingness to tackle everything I threw at them. As usual, they got much more done each day than I anticipated. Thanks so much for making this happen every year.”


4th Annual Wolcott All-School Garden Work Day (in pictures and video):

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Spontaneously composed original song: “I am a happy kid, with my dirty hands!”



Job Fair at Hazen Union: Twenty local businesses participated in a Job Fair sponsored by Jasper Hill Farm, Voc Rehab Vermont, VT Department of Labor and Hazen Union High School. Held in the Hazen library, the first part of the fair was open to students, followed by a time period open to community members. Support for completing job applications and communicating with employers was also offered. Three cheers for local talent, career exploration, and community engagement!

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Last year the CAE conducted an evaluation project to understand the impacts and opportunities of place-based food systems education in OSSU. The evaluation findings help guide CAE’s work as a support organization working with the local school system. Below is a summary of the project, also viewable HERE in pdf form for easier reading.

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Issue #30: Early May

The Future of Education Design Studio: Earlier this spring, Hazen Middle School students Bailey Shepard (8th) and Lydia Hall (7th), traveled with three members of the Community Programs Team from the Center for an Agricultural Economy to take part in a Design Studio focused on student leadership in advancing civic engagement in education. Here is how Bailey and Lydia described the experience:

“When I went to the youth leadership workshop I learned a lot about student leaders. I really enjoyed getting to work with other adults and have them listen to my opinion. 

One problem we have come up with is that we need more student-led classrooms. For example, more Harkness classrooms, so it’s a student-led conversation and not a teacher standing up in front of the room talking. 

I really enjoyed going to the workshop and learning and coming up with new ideas trying to make changes so our education can be to its fullest.” – Lydia

“I loved meeting kids around my age from other schools. It’s nice to talk to new people, different people than who I see every day at school. I wanted to talk about improving breakfast at school. Quite a few people from other schools brought up the issue of racism. I’m part of the Stand-Up group at Hazen that works to address racism, so I liked talking about this with new people, too. 

Our project is to make a survey for the whole school and I met students from another school, Tuttle, who are also working on a survey project.” – Bailey

At the Design Studio the Hazen team began to develop a project idea – a student survey to identify issues for action and change by asking questions in three topic areas:
  1. School and personal wellness (meals, time outside, bell schedule, etc.)
  2. Student-based classrooms (student driven learning models)
  3. Issues that matter to students (climate change, racial justice, etc.)
Stay tuned for more as this project develops!


Hazen Community Partner Appreciation Breakfast: On May 7th, the Partners in Learning (PIL) team hosted a special event in honor of the value that community partnerships contribute to student learning. Now in its third year, the event’s invitation list surpassed 140 entities(!) – individuals, businesses and organizations that have partnered with the school through internships, guest presentations, program collaborations, job shadowing, etc. Those in attendance (about 40 folks) were welcomed by principal David Perrigo and student PIL member Bailey Shepard. Liz Shlegal of the Alchemist Foundation gave a keynote address, with a reminder that the only unique product we actually produce in Vermont — is Vermonters! Finally, a student panel (Chris Coderre, Morgan Mercier and Dillon Coderre) shared their stories of how community-based learning has transformed their school experience. A clear sense of the reciprocal benefit of school-community partnerships was woven throughout the program. 

Partners in Learning is a collaboration between community members, school board members, student leaders, WonderArts Vermont, The Center for an Agricultural Economy, VSAC’s Aspirations Program and Hazen Union High School.


Lakeview VREC Mini-Grant Project: Each year the Vermont Rural Education Collaborative awards mini-grants to schools for, “innovative projects that promote youth leadership, place-based education, and foster school and community partnerships.” Lakeview has been a participant in this program for many years. Here, student Charlie Kehler shares his experience:

V.R.E.C. 2019

This was my first time ever doing V.R.E.C. It was a great process. We started by coming up with ideas for our grant in early fall. Then once we had come up with a good idea, we went to a pitch meeting in Coventry with Mrs. Campos where we pitched our idea to three other schools. Then we listened to their ideas and asked them questions.

After the pitch meeting we started writing our grant. It was for Outdoor Learning supplies like binoculars and nets and sample takers. It also included microscopes and water pH test tubes and tablets. Some rocket kits were included. We also got big bins to store them. They are available to other teachers and classes if they want to check them out.

After we got our grant approved we made a tri-board to present at the presentation meeting. The meeting was held at Burke Town School. Our bus got there in the morning. When we got there we went into the gymnasium. There was a small snack waiting there for us. We had a little time to settle in and look around. Then Margaret, who is one of the leaders, spoke to us about what the schedule would be for the day. She also announced which groups of schools would be presenting with each other. First we listened to Lyndon Town School give their presentation. Then we gave ours. We presented to Millers Run, Burke  Town School and Walden. Each sixth grader had a part. My part was telling them what we learned and teaching them how to do a water pH test. Some other things that we got with our grant of 1500 dollars were soil testing kits, nets, sketchbooks and compasses.

Overall I think it was a great process for everyone in Sixth Grade. We have been using the new materials and it’s great to get outside!

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Wolcott Elementary School celebrated its annual Spring Fling with a full day of special activities to bring in the new season with creativity, joy and hands-on learning. In the photos below, students craft biodegradable seed-starting pots from newspaper, plant squash, cucumber, kale, herb and flower starts for the garden, and seed their own mini salad gardens in recycled milk cartons. 


Start-Up Entrepreneurship Series at Hazen: Spark, a project of Greensboro-based nonprofit WonderArts has partnered with the Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE) to offer a local series of classes on entrepreneurship and small business development. One version of the series is geared toward adults, and the other is being offered directly to students at Hazen Union. With support from Hazen’s work-based learning program, a cohort of ten self-selected, entrepreneurial students has met five times this semester with CWE’s Gwen Pokalo for a dynamic series of workshops to develop their ideas and strategies for building a small business. For more on the Start-Up Series, check out the WonderArts blog


Upcoming Event: Craftsbury Academy, in partnership with Healthy Lamoille Valley, is hosting a community forum on the impacts of technology and social media on youth. This event is open to all! May 30th, 6-7:30 pm. Read more HERE.

Issue #29: Late April


Wolcott Elementary School Maple Explorations: As part of an integrated unit on maple sugaring, Wolcott fourth-graders made a visit to Maple Sugar Mountain in Waterville and later hosted a classroom visit from sugar maker Linda Reeve of Bare Swamp Maple in Wolcott. The Reeves are currently the maple source for the Wolcott School meals program.

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4th Grade Teacher Trista Hutchins writes: “The kids loved it and learned so much. My uncle (a retired teacher) provided them with an engaging tour. He was very impressed with their questions and all they knew and wondered more about. We even had a pancake lunch with fresh syrup! When we returned to school the class did a free journal write about their visit. I was impressed with many of their thoughts and new learnings.”


Craftsbury Students Present at Community Forum: The Craftsbury School Life Association (SLA) recently hosted a community forum to discuss the strengths, challenges and opportunities for keeping athletics strong, supported, creative, and inclusive for Craftsbury kids. This coincided serendipitously with a language arts research project being undertaken by middle school students to investigate various aspects of competitive sports.

Teacher Alyssa Krebs writes: “The 7th and 8th grade studentshave been working on an argument writing unit for the past six weeks, opening up the big, broad, student-selected topic of competitive sports and encouraging each student to take a deep dive into a subtopic of personal interest.  The subtopics they researched range from pressure, to injuries, to co-ed sports teams, to funding, and beyond.  In the end, their challenge was to develop a nuanced claim about their subtopic, build an argument with reasons and evidence, and ultimately write an essay.  We finished editing just in time for students to contribute their own thinking to the community sports forum. Each student turned their argument into a visual poster which we then organized by topic and set up as a walking gallery in the Common Room.  In addition, each of the three classes (1 seventh and 2 eighth) selected a single argument to orally present at the forum.”

Students opened the forum with their presentations, setting the stage for the rich discussion that followed, and reminding us all how critical youth voice and youth-adult partnerships are in working toward meaningful school and community change.



Hazen Celebrates Community Partnership: Two upcoming events at Hazen bring attention to the value of community-based learning and the many ways that community partnerships enhance the experience of students.

  • On May 7th, a Community Partner Appreciation Breakfast will be held to recognize the scores of individuals, businesses and organizations who have contributed to Hazen as internship providers, guest presenters, project partners, etc. A student panel and keynote speaker Liz Shlegal of the Alchemist Foundation will present to the invited guests.
  • On May 14-17, students and teachers will take their energy and teamwork into the community for the second annual Hazen Service week. Service projects take place at local farms, businesses, community spaces and at the school itself.

Stay tuned for photos and stories from both of these events!