October 2020: Reconnecting

As we all plunged into the new realities and complexities of the pandemic back in March, this regular blog report took a hiatus to make way for the urgent flow of information being communicated to navigate the crisis.

The significance of the work our schools and communities (you!) have done to come together in moving through this difficult time can not be overstated.

Thank you – for taking care of each other, for holding on to hope, for prioritizing our young people, and for wasting no time in providing incredible learning and community building experiences for our kids despite the fraught circumstances of reopening. Here are just a few examples from around OSSU:

Hardwick Elementary community garden projects at Atkins Field.

REACH! Afterschool Program Apple Fest activities at Woodbury, Lakeview, Craftsbury and Wolcott.

Wolcott School fall garden work projects:

Craftsbury students are getting outside in all kinds of ways, including team building activities led by Sterling College students majoring in outdoor education. The Craftsbury Academy Woodlot is another rich context for outdoor learning where students regularly meet with forester Jared Nunery for lessons and explorations of the forested landscape. (Hope to have some photos of this to share soon!) In the management plan for the woodlot, the overarching goals of the plan include:

The woodlot should be managed to provide demonstration of exemplary practices of land stewardship, as well as natural areas to observe and learn about natural processes.

Building on the first goal, this land should serve as a place of doing, a place for students to get their hands dirty and learn from the natural world, within the natural world, and be a part of any management actions within the woodlot.

Hazen has expanded the Pathways program this year through additional teacher collaboration and a significant increase in students doing independent-based learning (IBL) projects and community and work-based learning. Some IBL experiences also include collaborative projects. For example, one group is looking at community food access and connecting learning proficiencies to a project around creating community meals.

The “Dare to Be Me” class and the Hazen Arts Collaborative programs are two, new, multi-disciplinary learning experiences launched this year.

  • Taking place off campus at the Highland Center for the Arts in Greensboro, the Hazen Arts Collaborative was recently visited by Vermont PBS to interview students about project-based and immersive learning. Stay tuned for info about when the story will be broadcast…
  • The “Dare to Be Me” interdisciplinary class, “aims to help students develop an ‘I can’ attitude and the courage to be themselves.  All activities are geared towards fostering health and wellbeing, a positive sense of self, independence, and a sense of connection and purpose. As much time as possible is spent in Nature and blends many different exercise routines with opportunities for mindfulness, quiet introspection, and meaningful conversations.”

Woodbury and Lakeview, members of the OSUED district and further linked through shared principal, Justine Guthrie, are prioritizing the value of collaboration – both schools now have the opportunity to work together in Professional Learning Communities, and the collaboration between schools has cultivated a positive and growing community of practice.

The OSSU Leadership Team has begun regularly incorporating facilitated equity work and practice into team meetings, recognizing this lens and learning as critical to seeing ourselves, our community, and the impact of our schools more clearly in doing the collaborative work of creating and supporting educational systems that serve all of our students.

And a huge shout out to the Student Services Team and Special Educators who have been designing and amending learning plans to reflect the current educational model as well as contingency plans for 100% remote learning and/or hybrid learning. Thank you for climbing this mountain in service of our kids!

And finally, some inspiring artwork to send you off with a bit of beauty: natural mandalas made by Wolcott School third-graders:

P.S. Check out this free resource:

During Agricultural Literacy Week, November 16 -19, each night will feature a free webinar bringing together the voices of our community. Click on the links below for each workshop to learn more and register. All events are free and open to the public!

11/16 6-7:30 pm: Exploring Abenaki Foodways Cooking Class, Guest Speaker: Chef Jessee Lawyer

11/17 6-7:30 pm: #MilkwithDignity: Advancing the Human Rights of Farmworkers while Fostering a Sustainable Northeast Dairy Industry, Guest Speakers: Migrant Justice

11/18 6-7:30 pm: Building Soil Health Resilience, Farmer Panel: Misse Axelrod (Drift Farmstead), Nic Cook (Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center), Tyler Webb (Stony Pond Farm), Kate Spring (Good Heart Farmstead)

11/19 6-7:30 pm: Gender, Agriculture, and Food Access, Guest Speakers: Ike Leslie, Postdoctoral Researcher in Food Systems at the University of New Hampshire; Tatiana Abatemarco, Visiting Faculty of Food Studies, Bennington College; Bennington College Students taking course Gender, Subsistence, and Agriculture

Agricultural Literacy Week is a project of NOFA-VT, the Vermont Department of Libraries and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

February 2020

In the last month, a visitor to OSSU schools might have witnessed: a student poetry slam, sled dogs, a student cooking show, forest classrooms, cross-country ski expeditions, sledding celebrations, students designing a maker-space, teachers hand-writing letters to students, school leaders meeting to imagine and support expanded opportunities for youth, community partners showing up with science kits, fat bikes, massage tables, art projects, and local ice cream — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Folks also wrote in with the following stories and photos of community-building in OSSU. Enjoy these, and keep sharing!

“At the HES breakfast cart, a fourth-grader approached my first-grade son and offered him a cheerful “Good morning, Oscar!” and put his arm warmly around his shoulder. My son responded with a huge bear hug, then they went their separate ways. It was really sweet to witness this pause, acknowledgement, and sharing of warm feelings for each other in the midst of so many kids rushing past each other in the hallway.”

“I found an old letter (1970) from then-Senator Barry Goldwater thanking me for supporting the Clean Air Act – Shared it with the students to let them know how easy it is to support legislation that is pending in Congress. “

“On March 12th, the students in Mr. Hennemuth’s and Jen’s TSA are sponsoring a community meal at the United Church of Hardwick. A dozen seventh grade students will be planning the menu, collecting donations, preparing and serving the meal and setting up and cleaning up for the event.”

“Guest presenters in Craftsbury Academy’s high school Spanish class include a local cabinet maker, a Sterling College student from Guatemala and retired language teachers. It is a great example of community participation and volunteerism that makes Craftsbury a special place. Foreign language studies raise the cultural awareness of our students and bring to light the diversity right here in our own community.”

“Art classes at Hazen are working on a community project at school to raise awareness of our contribution to plastic in the Ocean — and everywhere else.”

“Winter activities abound! Fourth and fifth-grade Craftsbury Academy students with Ms. Lyon and Mrs. Holbrook like to keep active while learning about the community and all it has to offer: Skiing and snowshoeing at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, planetarium and museum explorations at the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury, swimming and playing together at Jay Peak water park, collaborative adventures with Sterling students at the Craftsbury woodlot, and an outing to Burlington for the Peking Acrobats later in March.”

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“The Friends of Woodbury group held an event on a recent Saturday – It was incredible!  A lot of the school and community showed up!”

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Mark Your Calendars for the Community STEM Festival!! 

When: Thursday, March 26, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Where: Hardwick Elementary School Gym, 135 S Main St, Hardwick, VT 05843
All are welcome for this FREE and fun festival featuring STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math) activities and career path resources for all ages, youth and adult.
Activities include a 12-foot tall wind wall, a 15-foot “soil tunnel” showing the science of healthy soils, coding robots, giant blue building blocks, a 30-foot Lego race track, an inflatable planetarium – and more!
Light snacks will be provided (bread, cheese, veggies, dip).
Festival partners include:


January 2020

This month’s post is a request to YOU:

What stories do you have of community-building in OSSU?


Whether among students, among teachers, between students and adults, between schools and community members – any kind of submission is welcome and can be something you have done OR something you have seen. Use the PLEASE SHARE link to participate. Even just a sentence is welcome!

Collected stories will be shared back out through this blog.

Let’s stay inspired and committed to connection.



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 dinners.photo
  • 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 reeve@hardwickagriculture.org 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 (k.moulton@snhu.edu) 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