News & updates
News & updates
Important information about dealing with students and Covid-19: Pandemic Resources
Pat Miller Will Retire at End of the Year
Braintree School Principal Pat Miller has announced her intention to retire at the end of the current school year. Here is a letter she send to students and families on January 11, 2021:
I am writing to let you know that I have decided to retire at the conclusion of this school year. It has been an honor and a privilege to work in the OSSD for so many years. The level of commitment and dedication shown to the students of Braintree by teachers and staff members of our little school is far superior in Braintree than in many other schools. I will greatly miss the caring team of professionals in Braintree and most of all the children.
The best part of my day is when I help to cover in a classroom, listen to children read or just observe the wonderful learning on a daily basis of each class. I feel extremely fortunate to have been the principal of Braintree Elementary and will cherish my memories for many years to come. I look forward to spending more time with my daughters and grandchildren and hopefully doing a bit more of pottery, reading and hiking.
The district will form a search committee to find a good match for Braintree and several faculty members from Braintree will be on that search committee. We will keep you informed throughout this process.
Braintree Students Learn About - and In - the Great Outdoors
Outdoor learning is nothing new for students at Braintree School. They’ve been studying and working in outdoor classrooms for years. So when COVID-19 came along and schools throughout Vermont began moving classroom activities outside, Braintree Elementary was way ahead of the curve.
“There are so many exciting things happening at Braintree right now,” said Principal Pat Miller. “We have two completely different - permanent - outdoor classrooms being built, which will enhance our outdoor learning in so many ways. Thanks to a very generous grant of $15,000 which was written for us by The Arts Bus and donated by an individual who wishes to remain anonymous; and the efforts of two local people who have deep ties to the school, outdoor learning at Braintree will take a huge leap forward this fall.”
“Bethel musician and longtime volunteer Spencer Lewis is working with us to develop and build a classroom area made out of stone,” she said. “And Josh Axelrod, husband of Misse Axelrod, our Farm to School Coordinator, will be building a structure made out of trees from their farm with a metal roof and a fire pit in the center. He built one of these on his own farm and when I saw it, I thought ‘it’s beautiful - we have to have one at Braintree.’”
According to Miller, one of the two classrooms (Josh’s) is under construction now, with the other (Spencer’s) scheduled to get started soon.
Miller also noted that between the grant from the individual who wants to remain anonymous, Braintree’s Farm to School Grant, a small grant from Vermont Rise, and a grant from the Vermont Principals' Association, the two outdoor classrooms will be fully funded through grants. What’s more, she said, a number of teachers have developed their own areas outside this year and are using these spaces for instruction.
“We have at least four areas with stumps for children to sit on and some even have a fire pit so we can stay warm on chilly days,” she said. “It’s so gratifying to see the many ways our teachers make use of our beautiful surroundings to enhance learning for their students.”
In other outdoor-related news, Miller pointed to two recent hires that have brought with them a wealth of knowledge about outdoor learning.
“Our preschool classroom and the kindergarten/first grade class have several new components included in their outdoor classroom areas,” she said. “First, we have an extremely experienced preschool director/teacher (Harriet Hart) who will be doing professional development with all of us throughout the year to enhance our learning on outdoor education; and second we have Aubrie Howard, our new Family and Student Support Specialist, who has a long history of teaching outdoor education as both a Wilderness Therapy Guide in Montana, and with the Appalachian Mountain Club. Both of these individuals bring so much to the classroom.”
Braintree Elementary Awarded Farm to School Grant
Braintree Elementary School was one of just seven schools throughout the state recently awarded a $15,000 Farm to School Grant from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM).
The VAAFM hosted a celebration of the Vermont Farm to School and Childcare Grant Program at the Vermont State House on Wednesday, March 12, where it recognized seven school communities and two early childcare organizations with important grants to support their local food programming.
The program strives to improve the education and health of Vermont’s students, as well as positively impact the local economy, by providing Vermont schools and childcare programs with technical and financial assistance to develop and execute farm to school and farm to childcare programs. These programs integrate fresh, healthy, locally grown foods and nutrition education into Vermont’s cafeterias, classrooms and communities.
On hand to present the awards was Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts, Health Commissioner Mark Levine and Education Secretary Daniel French.
“We’re so excited about receiving this grant,” said Misse Axelrod, founder and director of the Vermont Farm and Forest School in Roxbury, “and we look forward to digging even deeper into growing a strong Farm to School Program here at Braintree.
When students are connected to the food they eat, they are more likely to make healthy choices and eat more fruits and vegetables. The school is excited to cultivate relationships with local farmers through on farm connections, local food in the cafeteria, and plans to bring the community together through farm and food. The grant will give the school the support they need to make this all possible.”
Axelrod has been working with the Orange Southwest School District and the Farm to School Coordinator since 2019. The Vermont Farm and Forest School works with a dozen schools in Central Vermont and statewide on farm, food, nutrition education.
Vermont is a national leader in farm to school programs and activities, and has played a major role in helping secure hundreds of thousands of federal grant dollars for farm to school programs throughout the state.
March is Youth Art Month at Randolph Elementary
It's Youth Art Month at Randolph Elementary School (and across the country), and our student artists will be participating in several art presentations at the Vermont Statehouse and at Chandler Gallery. Our theme this year is "eARTh" which celebrates the 50th anniversaries of Earth Day and Vermont Green Up Day. Several of our pieces will be displayed along with other PreK- grade 12 work from around the State in an effort to show how art can reflect, communicate and illustrate our roles as stewards of our planet.
Artists have long used their work to inspire others to appreciate and respect the natural world, and our students are adding their voices to this tradition.
The RES exhibits will include painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing from all OSSD students, PreK through grade 6. Preschoolers created a collaborative earth and earth prints while Kindergarten students made clay pieces about
endangered Vermont species. First and second graders created an installation of imaginative colorful plants, bugs, and fish, reminding us that nature inspires our imagination. "Save Life on Earth" is a collection of realistic animal portraits created by third and fourth graders that reflects their interests and the development of their observation skills; while complex, made from clay Earth Guardian sculptures were crafted by fifth and sixth graders. Their painted forms were inspired by indigenous people from Central America complimenting one of their theme units this year.