Happy Winter Solstice! As the steady return of light guides us forward into a new year of healing and strength, this month’s offering is a short and sweet celebration of the care and learning that has flourished despite so many challenges.
First, a brief listen that illuminates student perseverance, collaboration, learning from mistakes, and holding onto possibility even when the process is not easy – this one from a conversation with the Hazen robotics club.
These first eleven weeks of school have been a feat of innovation, courage and humility. THANK YOU. May we all continue to draw on the threads of care and joy that keep us connected, even as we navigate distance, grief and stress in these difficult times. Here are a few glimpses into the care and joy that have been thriving in OSSU as students, teachers and community members continue to build resilience through connection to place and to one another.
Wolcott Bike Busters: Thank you to Lydia Mandigo, Hayden Greene, Saul Thompson, and Riley Haggett for sharing about this awesome new project at the Wolcott School. Play the audio clip below to hear the story in their own words!
Craftsbury Outdoor Learning: Thanks to Tina Lyon for sharing these photos of Craftsbury’s Farm to School Fair and explorations at the Craftsbury Academy Woodlot!
Teacher reflection from a conversation with Hazen Middle School teacher Greg Hennemuth:
RB: How are you doing?
GH: It’s hard – I don’t want to bring the virus home, so I wear a face mask and a shield – which makes communication tough sometimes. But I’ll tell you, it’s the most amazing thing co-teaching with Kelly! We’re having a lot of fun! We’re messing up left and right, mostly because of technology, but it’s a free expression of ideas as we collaborate and help one another and make mistakes with each other. It’s been a kind of milestone in my career. It’s never happened like this before. It’s been a real spark.
A Recipe For Human Connectionclass at Hazen has distributed dozens of “Red & Blue Apron” soup kits to members of the Hazen school community. Ingredients for the soup kits were largely sourced locally through gleaning, donations, and harvesting from the Hazen greenhouse. Thanks to the following farm partners: Harvest Hill Farm, Eastview Farm, Riverside Farm, and High Mowing Seeds. Exploring ways to connect to each other and to the community through food has also included virtual cooking classes with partners at Hosmer Point Camp, sharing family recipes (see venison stew being cooked over the firepit in slideshow), and baking pumpkin desserts to contribute to the Thanksgiving Everyone Eats Community Meal.
HES students and REACH! participants are also contributing to the Everyone Eats Thanksgiving Community Meal by making greeting cards to include in each meal for an extra serving of joy and connection!
>>> For more info about how Everyone Eats benefits local businesses and farmers while connecting you to delicious free meals, go to https://www.nourishhardwick.org/meals, where you can sign up for free meals in Hardwick, Craftsbury and Glover. Also check out the Localvore Passport app that connects you to free meals supporting Vermont businesses around the state.
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!
11/18 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.
Partners from Generator working with Hazen students
Woodbury School skiing at Craftsbury Outdoor Center
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.”
“The Friends of Woodbury group held an event on a recent Saturday – It was incredible! A lot of the school and community showed up!”
Mark Your Calendars for the Community STEMFestival!!
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).
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.
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.
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:
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!
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:
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!
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 datefor a community science night coming up in the spring onMarch 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.
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 withLt. 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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
First meeting of the OSSU Community Partners Coalition, seen here at the SPARK! maker-space in Greensboro.
OSUED teachers launch a partnership with the Leahy ECHO Center to build STEM programming at all three of the newly merged schools.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com 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!
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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!
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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!
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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