Early March 2018

  • Congratulations! All OSSU school budgets were approved by voters at town meetings this year! Appreciation goes out to the board members, principals, teachers, administrators, families, and community members who engaged in this process.

  • School lunch is looking good! The beef stew on this tray at Hardwick Elementary is loaded with local products: organic beef from VT99 Meats and locally sourced carrots and potatoes processed at the Vermont Food Venture Center in Hardwick. These local products are being served at the other OSSU schools as well!

  • On March 8, three students from Lakeview presented at the annual school meeting in Greensboro. The findings from their student designed survey are included below, and board members from the Lakeview School Board and the OSSU Board have already reached out to this group to continue the conversation.


Fall 2017 Student Data (OSSU 5th and 6th Graders)

Survey results include the following number of 5th and 6th grade respondents from each OSSU school: Hardwick (27) Craftsbury (14) Wolcott (14) Lakeview (13) Woodbury (8) = 74 total, ~50% response rate

student data 1

Forms response chart. Question title: How important is it to you to spend time learning outside in nature?. Number of responses: 74 responses.Forms response chart. Question title: How important is it to you to spend time learning out in the community?. Number of responses: 74 responses.Forms response chart. Question title: How important is it to you to spend time learning on a farm?. Number of responses: 73 responses.

student data 2

student data 3


Issue #7: Late February 2018

  • In December, four ninth grade Hazen students attended the VEEP Youth Climate Leaders Academy and developed an idea for the project of bringing Hazen’s Greenhouse back into production. In the words of student Abigail Demers, as published in a front page Hardwick Gazette article: “It’s a really good thing because it’s kind of student-led and we have Mr. Considine here. We do most of it and he’s here to help us with the bigger steps. It’s just a really great learning experience for us, because we learn how to take charge and get things done.”

Zac Gravel, Abigail Demers, Madison Bartlett, Harley Papineau


  • Adjacent to the Hazen Greenhouse, the Hazen composting program is getting up and running with students from science teacher Jay Modry’s class.


  • The Hazen Wellness Fair, organized by VSAC Aspirations Coordinator, Michelle Legere, featured a variety of community organizations with resources for physical, social, emotional, and nutritional wellbeing. Here, teachers and students taste-test local rainbow carrots and make carrot necklaces, aka “snack-laces” 🙂



  • Student Council Members at Lakeview are collaborating with the CAE on an evaluation project to measure the impact and best practices of place-based learning. In the photo below, they review the data collected in their survey of OSSU 5th and 6th graders, preparing to present their findings to Greensboro residents at the annual school meeting on March 8th. An excerpt from their upcoming presentation: “As part of the Lakeview student council we think the type of learning kids enjoy is important and we asked our peers what learning experiences they want more of. Kids thought that they did not get to learn outside as much as they would like to. They also thought that their schedule needed more science, math, learning about animals, physical activity, field trips and learning about nature. We hope the voters and school board of our town will agree and make some changes.”

Lydia Hall, Anika Leahy, Zola Kehler, Lillian Hayden meeting with Reeve and Bethany from CAE

Issue #6: Early February 2018

  • A diverse team of teachers, school chefs, physical educators, school leaders and community partners has been working to create a new Wellness Policy for the OSSU. It is inspiring to see place-based, food systems education woven into the plan in many ways, including goals for curricular integration of school gardens, local food on school menus, and connections to the local agricultural community!
  • A team of three from Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union is participating in a Shelburne Farms year-long professional development program in Education for Sustainability leadership. Heather Freeman (Student Services Coordinator), Eric Erwin (Lakeview Elementary Principal), and Reeve Basom (Education and Agriculture Coordinator at the Center for an Agricultural Economy in Hardwick) are using this opportunity to look closely at effective action for cultivating sustainability as a unifying and guiding theme for the OSSU.
  • One of the OSSU Professional Development offerings this year is “Relevance and Rigor through Farm to School.” The class of sixteen includes teachers from all levels, subjects and schools, as well as a nurse and an after school coordinator. The group has engaged in a variety of hands-on experiential training in school gardens, on farms, and most recently in the kitchen practicing recipes and techniques for cooking with kids in the classroom. (Photo: Mosie Hill, 3rd grade teacher at Wolcott, making a rainbow slaw.)
  • The new “J Term” program at Hazen offers middle and high school students three immersive weeks at the end of the school year to dive into project-based learning through a diverse array of non-traditional course offerings developed by Hazen teachers. Some examples from this year’s J Term course catalog: Artisanal Cheese-making, Investigative Journalism and Documentary Filmmaking, Fly-fishing for Beginners/Water Quality and Conservation, Mountain Bike Riding and Trail Building!
  • WonderArts is teaming up with Hazen to offer a series of lunchtime talks by local entrepreneurs. What a wonderful way for students to connect to the resources and expertise in their own community as they explore possible career pathways!


Issue #5: Late January 2018

  • Four Hazen ninth graders have formed a team to pursue the goal of working collaboratively with the Hazen Kitchen to increase local food and student participation in the school meals program. They have begun their project by meeting with Food Service Manager Patti Foster to learn about what she is already doing related to local food, develop a deeper understanding of how the cafeteria is run, and brainstorm ways to channel their energy toward shared goals. These students, and Patti, are particularly excited about working to re-establish a program that uses the Hazen greenhouse to grow food for the cafeteria!
  • Craftsbury schools have won the latest round of the statewide Breakfast After the Bell Challenge! Student participation in breakfast at Craftsbury Academy is up by 116% since last year and the New England Dairy and Food Council has awarded the schools a grant to support the program’s continuation.
  • Local farmer, educator and all around amazing community member Katie Black is our new regional EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program) Educator through UVM Extension. She has a wonderful array of food and nutrition resources (including gardening, cooking, healthy eating on a budget, and more!) available for free to school groups, community groups and individuals or families who qualify based on income. These include fun, hands-on, research-based activities tailored to the needs of the individual or group. Katie is already making connections with teachers, schools, and support organizations and would love to hear from anyone else who is interested! katie.black@uvm.edu
  • Quotes from Minda Moskowitz’s third graders on a farm to school lesson making yogurt:

“We learned the name of bacteria Streptococcus thermophilus which means heat loving.

We also learned the name of another bacteria called Lactobacillus bulgaricus. We made predictions about how our yogurt would taste.”

“I had a lot of fun making it and tasting it. I didn’t like it alot, but it was cool how it turned out.”

“We learned so much!”          

“I am looking forward to making it at home.”

Issue #4: Early January 2018

  • In 2017, OSSU schools used 250 pounds of local beef in their school meals program. A collaboration between Jasper Hill, Pete’s Greens, the CAE and OSSU food service managers has made local, organic beef available with affordable pricing and convenient delivery. After working the kinks out in this pilot year, we expect even more of this high quality local product to find its way into students’ bellies in the coming year!
  • There are now forty-four community partners who are part of an online community partner encyclopedia where teachers can peruse the people and entities who are interested in collaborating in a variety of ways with local schools
  • FSM luncheonWe love the OSSU Food Service Professionals and are inspired by their commitment to values-based meals programs. It was lovely to get almost all of them together for a luncheon to appreciate their efforts and learn from each other about how to keep improving!
  • The Hazen Principal search is underway with an impressive level of intention and vision. It is exciting to see that the job description identifies, An interest in outdoor classroom, place-based learning, and sustainable agriculture” as a quality of the ideal candidate.
  • Hazen’s Jen Olson received an award from Vermont Roundtable in recognition of her work related to Act 77 and Personalized Learning! Congratulations! We know that Jen is a powerhouse when it comes to cultivating community-based and work-based learning experiences for students.

Issue #3: Early December 2017

  • Lakeview 1st and 4th grades collaborate to integrate cooking projects on a weekly basis. CAE funds help buy a convection oven that can be shared between classrooms.
  • Woodbury Elementary School’s community harvest dinner is prepared with many ingredients from the school garden and featured in the Hardwick Gazette.
  • Wolcott Elementary switches to buying local maple syrup through the Maple in Every School Pilot Initiative – a collaboration between VT FEED and the VT Sugar Makers Association.
  • Hardwick Elementary School is selected for a Case Study project of the VT Farm to School Network that will showcase the farm to school stories of five schools around the state.
  • Five Hazen students engage in a total of 70 hours of community service, building three raised garden beds at a low income housing site, and planting trees to expand the community orchard at Atkins Field.Maple street garden workcrew  
  • Craftsbury Schools’ Universal Meals Grant results in an OSSU-wide local food tracking system that receives recognition from VT Secretary of Ag, Anson Tebbetts, and other Farm to School leaders as a model for other school systems around the state.
  • OSSU’s ACT 46 Alternative Structure Proposal recognizes  farm to school, place-based education, and community partnerships as major components of the current work to provide rich and meaningful learning experiences for all students. Moreover, these program areas are highlighted for increased emphasis and development in the collective vision for ongoing enhancement of educational equity and quality!

Issue #2: Late November 2017

This time, we thought we’d share a few of the results from our project to survey various groups about place-based learning.

From Parent Survey:

How important is it to you that your child’s education is connected to local community resources like farms,  businesses and the natural world? (choose one: essential, very important, slightly important, not important)

School High Priority (essential + very important) Low Priority (slightly important + not important) # Responses
Lakeview 92% 0% 12
Wolcott 77% 4% 26
Hardwick Elem 77% 0% 26
Craftsbury 76% 13% 16
HES and Hazen 73% 6% 18
Hazen 64% 11% 19
Woodbury 55% 0% 18


From Teacher Survey

Teacher survey pie chart

From Teacher Survey:

What supports do you need to engage in school-community partnerships?

Response themes:

  • Information about community partners
  • Transportation funds
  • Mentorship/TA/liaison
  • Curriculum resources
  • Administrative support for planning time and collaboration
  • Supplies
  • Volunteers
  • Examples
  • PD
  • Less red tape

Free range teachers.PNG

Issue #1: Early November 2017

Wolcott orchard day

  • Wolcott Elementary School involves all students in planting a new school apple orchard – smiling and working joyfully through the rain. (In partnership with REACH, Elmore Roots, CAE and parent volunteers.)
  • Craftsbury’s Food Service significantly increases breakfast program participation through implementing universal breakfast and “Breakfast After the Bell.”
  • Hazen tackles transportation barriers to work-based learning and receives administrative support in hiring a part time driver.
  • Lakeview student council members work as part of an advisory board to help the CAE develop a survey for adding student voice to the investigation of the value and impact of place-based learning.
  • HES expands sustainability work to become a school-wide focus, engaging in visioning and action planning as a whole staff.
  • 63% of Woodbury families participate in the parent and family survey to collect parent perspectives on place-based learning – the highest participation rate in the SU!
  • OSSU Business Office administers the launch of a new local food tracking system that has the potential to be used as a model around the state.