News & updates

News & updates

Four Winds students learning4 Winds News at Brookfield Elementary

We are pleased to welcome our Four Winds volunteers back to school! This wonderful program, carried out by trained volunteers, brings enriching nature-based science instruction and learning opportunities to all of our students.

This year we will be studying Ecosystems. Topics such as Signs of Leaf Eaters, Leaf Litter, Snags & Rotting Logs, Squirrel Tales, Staying Warm, White-Tailed Der, Forest Birds and Pond Life will be explored. Take a look at the 4 Winds website to get an idea of what Four Winds is all about.You could also ask your child what they know about 4 Winds.

Our program coordinator, Kristina Emmons, could always use more volunteers. Please contact her for more information about how you can be a part of this great program. You can email Kristina at:

Brookfield 3/4 Graders Explore Hildene

hildene visitThe Bookfield 3/4 grade from went down to Hildene, Lincoln's family home in Manchester, VT to learn about goats and vernal pools. The students got the chance to learn facts about the anatomy of goats, what can be made from their milk, and even got to bottle feed the baby goats. After lunch they gathered in the classroom and learned about vernal pools and some of the creatures who live in them, before heading out to see one on site. There, the students got to explore with nets and other devices, the pools and their inhabitants while recording data on what they found.

Randolph Kindergarteners Study Chicks’ Metamorphosis
Courtesy of The Herald, May 24, 2018
Closing out a multi-unit study on life cycles, Randolph Elementary School celebrated its annual Chick Night with an open house event on May 17.

Studying for this hands-on unit began when students and teachers set the eggs into incubation the day after April vacation. These fertilized eggs were donated by Tracy Squire, who has a backyard chicken coop in East Randolph.

In teacher Sarah Langlois’ kindergarten classroom, her students watched as eggs sprang to life over the course of their 21-day incubation period. The pupils candled the eggs each day with the aid of a flashlight to see past the shell and examine growth intervals inside the egg. The students then created colored diagrams to better understand different components of the embryo.

This curriculum, a component of the Next Generation Science Standards, connects elements of multi-disciplinary study including math, music, art, reading, and writing. Unique within the Orange Southwest School District, the Randolph kindergarten class is the only one in the district to cover the life cycles of chicks. “In terms of our district, Chick Night is definitely a Randolph tradition,” Langlois said.

Langlois said highlights of the unit included the study of embryology and a week spent learning about many types of egg-laying animals and how they tend to vary. Studies also included vocabulary development as the children learned new scientific terminology. Learning songs helped the kids remember more complex ideas. Langlois said the day the chicks were hatching was the most exciting for her students. “The hands-on piece is really what makes it stick for these kids,” she said.

"Miss Gus" Awarded Nat'l Engaged Leader Award
Courtesy of The Herald, May 17, 2018miss gus

Randolph Elementary School’s Gus Howe Johnson, affectionately known as “Miss Gus,” was awarded the National Engaged Leader Award by the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) on May 6. The organization invites select students enrolled in colleges or universities nationwide to work towards being inducted into the society.

Johnson was working as a para-educator at RES and simultaneously finishing her master’s degree at Johnson State College in the spring of 2017, when she was chosen by local chapter head Susan Caswell Bellimer to participate in the program.

According to Johnson, in order to be inducted, she attended many speaker workshops and outlined personal and professional goals, which were monitored by officials at NSLS.

Following her induction in May 2017, “Miss Gus” jumped at the opportunity to shift from working one-on-one with students to having her own classroom of 21 fifth- and sixth-graders. Johnson decided to enroll in the second level of NSLS’s program, through which she earned the National Engaged Leader Award at the beginning of this month.

Community service is a key component for the NSLS award. For Johnson, that service came in the form of “hosting, supervising, and feeding” RUHS’s Students Against Violence Everywhere association in her Randolph Village home.

She chuckled as she recalled the sheer quantity of food she prepared while the young activists were busy brainstorming in her living room.

Johnson came to the teaching scene relatively late, following a 20- year career in journalism. A graduate of RUHS, she earned her bachelor’s in agricultural journalism from Hampshire College. An immediate job offer as the editor of the Maryland Farmer Newspaper sent the young writer throughout Maryland and southern Pennsylvania to report on issues she knew nothing about, Johnson said.

Johnson loves to help her students “find their topic”—both as young writers and as people.
“Make everything be a question,” is how she described her interview style, a trait she said she hoped to instill in her students.

RES Students Explore Howling Wolf Farm
On Thursday, May 3rd, Ms. Gus's 5th and 6th grade class, along with their buddies in Mrs. Mitchell's 1st grade class, went to Howling Wolf Farm in Randolph for a day of high adventure.

They experienced, in between three rainstorms, learning about Katahdin sheep and lambs, how they shed their wool, and how their hoofs are trimmed. They explored a pond complete with turtles, salamanders, and frog eggs. They then picked their way through a "maze" made with sheep fence; enjoyed lunch by the pond; took a hike up into fields and forests to study plants, trees, and wildlife habitats; and managed to run into three snakes and a couple of sheep carcasses.

All in all – a busy and productive day! Thank you Jenn Colby of Howling Wolf Farm for a wonderful adventure!​

Braintree Students Will Help Update the Town Plan
By M.D. Drysdale, courtesy of The Herald, May 03, 2018.

Faced with the need to update the Braintree Town plan, the Braintree Planning Commission has enlisted help from those who might benefit over many years—students at the Braintree Elementary school.

Students in grades four, five, and six have been asked to help illustrate the town plan with photos of Braintree’s scenic views, historic buildings, and recreation areas “which make Braintree such a wonderful place to live,” according to planning commission member Nathan Cleveland.

“I hope that the contest will result in the kids having a better understanding of how and why we have local government, and how planning can help identify and protect our natural, scenic, and built resources for future generations,” he told The Herald.

Teaming with teachers Larry Burns and Janni Jacobs, Cleveland has organized a photo contest to help demonstrate recreational, historical, and scenic areas. The two will kick of the project on May 17, with a showing of slides and maps of historical places.

Each student is then asked to take photographs demonstrating four categories—historical, recreational, scenic, and rural scenic roads. He gives as examples, the Braintree Hill Meeting House, old stone walls and dam sites, snowmobile and horseback trails, Mud Pond and nearby Rolling Rock, and 11 scenic roads.
Students will receive the full list of suggestions at the May meeting.

In addition to being a fun and educational project for the students, Cleveland hopes that getting the kids interested will get their parents involved, as well. The contest rules and the Planning Commission’s survey will be sent home with the students.

He’s also looking to the students for their perspective of their town: “I hope that we will get a better understanding of what the kids find to be scenic, historical, and in general what makes our town special,” he said.

Each student may submit five photographs no later than June 4, and the town planning commission will select the winning photos on the 8th.