Issue #14: Late June 2018

It may be summer break, but the list of things to celebrate about OSSU never ends!


  • Woodbury has completed some major upgrades to its school garden hoop house. Despite school meals no longer being prepared onsite*, the Woodbury staff are strongly committed to growing and integrating food into their school programs. As teacher John Kordet wrote about the hoop house project, “I’m really looking forward to the fall when I can get the kids out there and explore agronomy with them. What an asset it will be!”
    *Woodbury meals are now prepared by the Hardwick Elementary School Food Service team and delivered daily.




  • Student Survey: You’ve read about the Student Survey Project in several past posts and seen the resulting data that shows a strong desire for outdoor and nature-based learning experiences. One final piece to report out is how the students who led this project were impacted. In a debrief session at the close of the school year, the student survey team reflected on what the project meant to them. Highlights of the experience included:
    • being seen and taken seriously
    • feeling accepted, appreciated, important and happy
    • having conversations with adult audiences
    • changing people’s thinking
    • being known as, “The kid that made a change, not just so-and-so’s daughter.”

The team also thought about what they could improve on or do differently next time, including getting more kids involved in leading the project, surveying more students, presenting to additional audiences, and more practice responding to anticipated questions from the audience.


  • Effects of Farm to School on Student Behavior: As part of a collaborative project with Green Mountain Farm to School, the CAE has been collecting and analyzing data from several schools (both in and out of OSSU) to compare behavior referral rates on days with and without farm to school activities. Our initial findings are exciting and do seem to show a trend: the rate for office behavior referrals on days with farm-to-school activities in specific grades are about half the rate for other days. This initial work is exploratory and our first round of data has limitations, so we are curious to hear your thoughts and reactions. Can you think of factors that might lead to a false trend showing up? Do you have anecdotal or other evidence that this trend seems to make sense, or not? Are we barking up the right tree? We appreciate all feedback as we explore the idea of a larger study.


  • A visual update on the Hazen Greenhouse: getting jungly!



Issue #13: Early June 2018

  • Craftsbury Woodlot – On June 13th, a bus carrying the entire Craftsbury Elementary School pulled up to a clearing on a forested hilltop outside of town. A sign at the clearing’s edge reads, “Craftsbury Academy Woodlot,” but it has been many years since this piece of land was used regularly as part of the school program. Now, with the collaborative investment of teachers and Craftsbury residents, the woodlot is being reintroduced to students. As the group stepped off the bus they were greeted by a group of community members, each with something special to teach the students about this piece of land – tree identification, forest crafts, forest stories and history, forest games, and a little bit of forest magic. We look forward to seeing how this beautiful outdoor classroom continues to be utilized for rich learning experiences and community connections!


  • Woodbury Dairy in the Classroom Field Trip – After five weeks of exploring the many facets of dairy farming in Vermont, Woodbury students and teachers in grades K-2 were welcomed to the Laggis Brothers Dairy Farm in East Hardwick for a culminating field trip to see cows and farmers in action! Students learned about how nutrients are recycled on the farm and how farmers work to promote animal health and productivity throughout the lifecycle. The Laggis family has been a wonderful partner to OSSU, hosting corn gleaning and many field trips over the years.
  • Hazen’s J-Term, now in its second year, offers students two weeks of experiential learning at the end of the year. This year the program has expanded to include the high school as well as the middle school and students each choose from an array of engaging seminars designed by teachers, often with elements of community collaboration. Hazen’s website homepage currently features some great photos of J-Term activities, from fly fishing and watershed conservation to cheesemaking. Take a look!


  • Wolcott School Board and admin, inspired by the Lakeview Student Survey (previously featured in issues 1, 7 and 8), is planning to collaborate with CAE on a student survey project for next school year! Three cheers for the importance and power of student voice and participation in decision making!


  • What are you most proud of about your school? I asked OSSU school leaders this question, and heard responses that reflected both the individuality of each school and the strength of a shared vision for providing high quality education. Two themes stood out clearly among the many points of pride:
    1. Cultivating an empowered, motivated staff culture that increasingly supports innovation, collaboration, risk-taking, and adaptive leadership for facilitating authentic, meaningful learning experiences with children.  
    2. Opportunities for student leadership and student voice.

I hope you will ask yourself this same question and use it to spark some great conversations!


Issue #12: Late May 2018

Community Partner Celebration: The second annual Community Partners Appreciation Breakfast was held at Hazen on May 15th. This year, Hazen has partnered with over 140 community members or entities (that’s amazing!!), and the thirty or so who were able to attend this breakfast included farmers, engineers, police officers, businesses, nonprofits, and more, all of whom engage with Hazen in some way to enrich the learning experiences of students, whether it be hosting interns, providing informational interviews, visiting as a guest speaker, or collaborating on school projects. A panel of students who shared about their experiences with community partnerships was a highlight of the morning, and it was clear that these relationships are of real and reciprocal value. The event was organized by the Partners In Learning team – if you would like to know more or get involved, please contact Reeve Basom or Jen Olson:,


Pumpkin Planting Party! Last week, HES second graders hiked intrepidly through the rain to plant their pumpkin starts in the Hazen Greenhouse. Hazen High School students have been working hard to prepare the greenhouse space for planting and were on hand to work with their younger friends as baby pumpkin plants were carefully tucked into their warm new home. These pumpkins will become the supply for HES’s annual Pumpkin Walk in the fall, and the greenhouse will be growing tomatoes, melons, herbs and flowers for use by summer programs and the Hazen kitchen.

On May 23rd, some of the Hazen Students involved in the Greenhouse revitalization presented their work to peers from around the state at the VEEP Youth Climate Leaders Academy in Montpelier. Maker:S,Date:2017-8-2,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y


New ESY Summer Program: Also connected to the Hazen Greenhouse is an exciting new opportunity for OSSU students with Extended School Year Services (ESY) that is being piloted this year by the OSSU Student Services team. Located at Hazen, the program will make use of the greenhouse, the outdoor trails, and the home ec kitchen classroom to focus on student’s individual goals through hands on, experiential projects. Katie Black with UVM Extension will also be teaching a nutrition strand as a piece of this program.


Wolcott School’s Third Annual All School Spring Gardening Day!

  • Raspberries for a new school patch donated by Bear Swamp Farm, harvested by 5th graders and transplanted by 6th
  • Pumpkins planted by Kindergarten
  • Cukes by 1st grade
  • Greens, garlic, carrots and radishes by 3rd and 4th
  • Beans and peas by 2nd
  • So much hard work and so many smiles!


A final treat for this issue – check out these living willow play structures from Lakeview’s Playground!

Issue #11: Early May 2018

Hazen Service Week

1200 hours. This, incredibly, is the amount of community service recently performed by Hazen High School students in just one week. As seventh through ninth graders dug in to a week of standardized testing, the rest of the student body dug, raked, painted, and pruned their way through four days of volunteer work at area farms, business, and organizations. In our visits to many of the work sites, we spoke to hosts who were thrilled by the positive energy and productivity of the student workers. We saw students smiling and laughing and problem solving together, sometimes accomplishing tasks that the host hadn’t assumed possible. We heard students excited about employment opportunities that arose from their service work, and we heard teachers inspired to pursue new collaborations and curricular connections with community partners.  

Connective tissue between classrooms and community members is a key ingredient to the vitality of our school system and our community as a whole. It is wonderful to witness these relationships being joyfully exercised and growing stronger.

Thank you to all those who helped make the first annual Hazen Service Week possible, including students, teachers, school staff, and the community partners recognized below.

Work project hosts this year included:

  • Hardwick Town House
  • Hardwick Area Food Pantry
  • VT Natural Coatings
  • Center for an Agricultural Economy/Atkins Field
  • Hardwick Trails Association
  • Craftsbury Community Care Center
  • Greensboro Nursing Home
  • Highland Lodge
  • East View Farm
  • Hosmer Point
  • Harvest Hill Farm
  • Agape Hill Farm
  • Heartbeet Lifesharing
  • Hardwick Elementary School
  • Brown’s Beautiful Blueberries

Snack donations provided by:

  • Pete’s Greens
  • Jasper Hill
  • Sterling College

Wellness activity provided by:

  • Craftsbury Outdoor Center Rowing Team

Greenhouse Project
New life is being breathed into the Hazen Greenhouse! So many hands and heads have come together to transform this space and return it to a living part of the school community. While Hazen students cleaned, weeded and prepped the space (before and after pics below), Hardwick Elementary students started pumpkin seeds in their classroom which they will transplant to the greenhouse on May 22nd. Over the summer, a new extended year services program will be based at Hazen and will help out with summer care of the greenhouse crops, which will include basil, tomatoes, flowers and melons as well as enough pumpkins for the annual Pumpkin Walk.



Dairy in the Classroom at Woodbury

Woodbury School K-2 students are participating in the New England Dairy & Food Council’s Dairy in the Classroom program for the next five weeks. On the first day, visiting educator Virginia Holiman led them through games, stories, costumes and songs to learn about farming and milk production. Homemade butter was the culminating (and very delicious!) activity.  


For those wishing to know more, here is a synopsis of the program from NEDFC’s website:  Dairy in the Classroom is a program offered to PK-3rd grade teachers in Vermont schools and funded by Vermont Dairy farmers. The program was designed by Virginia Holiman to increase students’ appreciation and knowledge of dairy farming, dairy products and healthy eating.


  • Five 75 minute classroom visits from a Dairy in the Classroom educator
  • Variety of fun hands-on activities related to cows, dairy farming, and the production of dairy products
  • Field trip to a cow-based dairy farm
  • Grant funding of $200 per classroom to cover field trip expenses


Spring in the Garden at Wolcott Elementary

Spring Fling day at Wolcott Elementary was sunny and beautiful. All of the students took some time to reconnect with the garden and check on how the new orchard survived the winter. Discoveries included: DELICIOUS spinach and other greens that weathered the deep freeze inside the low tunnel, lots of deer activity, daffodils popping up around the new apple trees where students had planted bulbs in the fall, and garlic shoots rising greenly up through their cozy covering of straw.

An all school garden work day is planned for May 30th and will include a project to add a raspberry patch! The raspberry plants are being donated by nearby Bear Swamp Farm where a group of students will travel to dig up the transplants and bring them back to school.

Issue #10: April 2018

  • Grow Your Own (a collaboration between the Hardwick Area Food Pantry, NEK Kids on the Move, and CAE) offers free monthly workshops with hands-on skill-building related to growing, preserving and cooking your own food. This month, Hardwick Elementary School hosted a GYO workshop in its kitchen classroom space. Allison Van Akkeren, sustainable food systems faculty at Sterling College, facilitated a wonderful, informative, family oriented workshop on preparing healthy snacks.


  • Local in Your Lunch! The list of Vermont products being purchased by OSSU school cafeterias is impressive! For example:
    • Apples from Burt’s Orchard
    • Maple from several hyper-local sugarmakers
    • Yogurt and other dairy products from Cabot
    • Bulk milk and yogurt from Kingdom Creamery
    • Bread from VT Bread Company
    • Beef from VT99 Meats
    • Honey from Lyman Gilman
    • Minimally processed potatoes, carrots, beets, and cabbage from the Vermont Food Venture Center
    • Seasonal produce from Pete’s Greens, Riverside Farm, and others

In addition to these Vermont products, OSSU food service managers are also looking for ways to expand their local purchasing, including eggs, more fruit, more meat, and even menu changes to incorporate local tofu. With a new milk dispenser funded by a VT Agency of Agriculture grant, Lakeview has shifted away from non-local milk in cartons and is now serving bulk milk from Hardwick’s Kingdom Creamery. Less trash, more kids drinking milk – the reviews are very positive, and several other OSSU schools are considering the feasibility of this switch as well.

We salute the work of our school chefs (local procurement and menu planning is more complicated than you would imagine!) and encourage everyone to spend time getting to know more about your school meals programs.


  • Meanwhile, over at Craftsbury Academy, 9th -12th graders were recently challenged to create healthy culinary masterpieces in the first annual CA Chopped Competition! Guidance Counselor Sally Guebara cooked up this event which combined team building with nutrition education and cooking skills. Grade level teams had thirty minutes to create a dish using five required ingredients (apples, carrots, beets, peanut butter and rice cakes) and up to five additional ingredients of their choosing. A panel of faculty judges sampled each entry and awarded top honors to the 11th grade apple tart made with rice cake graham cracker crust, whipped cream colored with carrot and beet juice, and a peanut butter drizzle!


  • The natural world and working landscapes deeply define our sense of place in Vermont. We love that OSSU schools are accessing a variety of programs to infuse nature, agriculture, and nutrition into student learning. Here are three great examples:
    • 4 Winds (formerly ELF) provides community-based natural science education monthly at Woodbury, Hardwick Elementary, Lakeview, and Craftsbury – in some cases for several decades! This is an amazing program that immerses kids in the natural world and relies on passionate community volunteers.
    • Green Mountain Farm to School (GMFTS) works with Craftsbury and Lakeview schools to provide food, farm and nutrition education on site in school gardens and cafeterias. GMFTS has also become an important partner in providing farm to school professional development for OSSU teachers.
    • Hardwick Elementary, Lakeview, Wolcott, REACH, and summer service programs have recently signed on to incorporate EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Programs) through UVM Extension. EFNEP educators use research-based, hands on curriculum to engage students in building skills and knowledge for making healthy life choices. Adult programs are available for free as well – click the link to learn more!

Issue #9: Late March 2018

  • Students in Suzanne Bader’s fourth-grade class at HES have been baking bread each month to donate to the Hardwick Area Food Pantry. Recently, at an assembly with the entire school, these fourth grade bakers announced a Community Bread Baking Challenge – inviting teachers, parents, students and community members to make (or buy) and donate bread during the month of April. Their video on how to make no-knead bread will be posted on the school website soon, and the prize for the class with the most donations is a homemade pizza party!DSC_0328


  • Hazen Union School has an exciting project in the works to enrich the week of standardized testing in April with a flurry of community engagement through four days of service projects! Planning is in full swing, and the list of community partners hosting service projects is growing. Students teams will be heading to local farms, businesses and non-profits to work on a variety of projects from spring clean-up, mulching and trail clearing to community meal prep and baking bread for the Food Pantry with Hardwick Elementary School students.

*Please be in touch with Reeve Basom ( or John Craig ( if you have a project idea for Hazen’s Service Week.*

Service Week Details:
April 24-26 (Tues – Fri)
Time frame: 8 – 11 am (including travel time)
Group size: 15- 20 (with the possibility of some smaller groups)


  • Wolcott School has expanded its garden over the last two years through all school work days, community partnerships, after school and summer programs and professional development. This month, the school is rolling out a plan to expand the level of teacher engagement in garden curriculum integration. Grade level teams will take on growing specific crops each year and will be supported in developing or using lessons that connect their garden work to core curriculum. Crops have been chosen in collaboration with the school food service manager, and expansion of perennial crops and fruit trees will occur annually. 


  • Not only are OSSU students engaging with community partners through work based learning programs, they are also publishing their stories. Hazen student Isiah Friend, currently interning at the Hardwick Gazette, is reporting on the experiences of fellow students who are working or interning out in the community as part of their personalized learning plans. Below is a clip of Isiah’s reporting on senior Ma’Lesha Willey and her work with Nancy Kish at Agape Hill Farm.  null


  • Congratulations to all OSSU staff for your work and learning during this year’s PD Academy Classes! In the photos below, teachers from the “Relevance and Rigor through Farm to School” cohort spend their final session touring the new GMTCC sugar house at Hazen, designing action plans for farm to school projects to implement in the coming school year, and celebrating with pizza baked in a wood-fired, outdoor pizza oven made by Hazen students. In course evaluation feedback, participants identified connection to community resources as one of the most valuable takeaways. Please contact us at the CAE if you would like support in getting connected to community resources for your place-based learning project!   


Issue #8: 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!
  • 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.”