Thursday, August 10, 2017

World Language and International Education Opportunities at Hazen Union School

Dear Students. 
Hazen Union School currently offers French, German, and Spanish. While it is not a graduation requirement, you are strongly encouraged to take at least one world language. Know that most universities ask for two or three years of a world language. If your schedule allows, you may also take more than one language at a time.

Students in our language classes participate in epal and penpal exchanges in order to practice their language skills authentically and connect with peers around the world. During the 2018 school year, Ms. Freedy is also hoping to take students to a Spanish-speaking country and Ms. Pfeffer is planning a trip with French students to Chicoutimi / Québec. 

Additionally, we want to entice students to apply for immersion programs where they can learn a language and simultaneously follow their passion, be it sports, art, music, etc. Many of these programs offer scholarships, but the application deadline is usually in the fall. If you are interested, you must therefore contact Ms. Freedy or Ms. Pfeffer at the beginning of the new school year in order to complete the application. Here are just a few examples of such opportunities:

Another way to learn about the world and make lifelong connections is to host an international student. High school students from all around the world are constantly looking for American host families. If you are interested, discuss this with your parents and have them contact either Ms. Freddy, Ms. Pfeffer or World Heritage International Student Exchange Representative Luciana Swenson (802-793-2387, 

The ULTIMATE CHALLENGE: become an international exchange student yourself!! You can do so for a summer, for a semester, or for a whole school year. Application deadlines are in October. So, take a look at the following websites and contact Ms. Freedy or Ms. Pfeffer as soon as possible. 

We wish you a wonderful start of the new school year and look forward to learning with you.

Señora Freedy & Madame/Frau Pfeffer

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Middle Level June Term Reflection & Thank You

My career in education began as a summer camp counselor at Merrowvista in Center Tuftonboro, New Hampshire. As a camper, counselor, and coordinator, I was able to experience the true joy of learning, community, and self-discovery. The engaging, supportive, and caring environment provided the opportunity for young people to take risks, to be challenged in new ways, and to develop deep connections with the physical and social world that surrounds them.

Over the last three weeks I have had the opportunity to watch our Middle Level students engage with their school in a new, engaging, and innovative manner through our J-term. While sitting in our auditorium today, I witnessed a group of students in our Coffee House seminar practice and prepare songs for their final performance tomorrow. As a student strummed on the ukulele and his group passionately sung the lyrics to Cant Help Falling in Love, I was instantly brought back to the campfire performances of my old summer camp. The spark that set me and many others on a career in education, has engulfed our Middle Level over the last three weeks in a blazing fire where students are being challenged in learning new things about themselves and the world around them.

That being said, with any change and new endeavor, we have had challenges in making this puzzle of J-term work. In pushing our students to be more independent in their work and learning, we have recognized our need to provide a variety of support and flexibility to meet our learners where they are at and push them to the next level. Throughout this journey we have reflected on how to improve our attempts at project-based learning, and how to scaffold independent learning throughout the school year.

On the eve of our last day of J-term, and our exposition of learning, I'd like to thank all of the stakeholders.

Thank you parents for trusting us not just over the last three weeks, but for your child's entire time at Hazen. Education at Hazen, across Vermont, and throughout the country is changing. The pedagogy and means to how education has been delivered to our students is in the process of rapid transformation. As we move to a model of more personalization, with balance of focus on proficiency and flexibility, we need your continued support, feedback and collaboration. As a relatively new parent, I have a deep obligation and perspective to thank you for entrusting in us what you care most about in the world.

Thank you to our community partners. This morning, many of you gathered in our cafeteria to hear our appreciation for your willingness to work with our amazing students. Thank you for opening the doors to your shops, your farms, your businesses, and your organizations. We look forward to continuing in expanding our collaboration with you and many more partners within our community.

Thank you to our students! Everyday you inspire each of your teachers. Everyday you show us new ways to look at the world. Everyday you teach us. Thank you for your willingness to take ownership of your learning, to take risks, and to take care for each other. We believe in each of you, and we are on the edge of our seats to see what you do next!

And lastly, thank you to our teachers. This work is not easy. But this work is important, and each of you demonstrate that belief in how you approach each lesson, each relationship, each day. You were asked in January to take a big leap of faith into the world of personalization and project-based learning. You did this with grace, intentionality, and the interest of our students at heart. Thank you for your passion, your dedication, and your willingness to model risk-taking for our community of learners.

I hope that you can join us tomorrow night at our J-term Exposition.  Students will be sharing a variety of examples of diving deep into their learning.  The Expo will be followed by a celebration of our 8th Grade students as they transition into the high school.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Our Sandbox

We have described this year for our teachers as a “sandbox” year. As we move our entire system towards a proficiency-based model, we have recognized the need and necessity for our teachers to study, experiment, and play with new tools. From learning management systems and a whole school 1:1 device roll-out to flipped grading practices and utilization of learning scales, our teachers have been practicing, reflecting, and applying new learning to their role as teachers.

At the heart of the ever growing complexity of what the idea of school means, it has become essential for us to embed authentic learning tasks into our classrooms. These real world models and simulations serve as anchors for our work, driving our instruction in intentional directions, and allowing for students and teachers to demonstrate, track, and reflect on their own learning. This work will and does function as the foundation for students to be lifelong learners and contributing members of our community in the 21st century.

Below you will find some examples of how we are building our “sandcastles” here at Hazen.


At the end of May, our Middle Level will be engaging in a J-term. Modeled off of the work from Lyndon Institute and many other schools throughout Vermont, our teachers are working to create authentic, hands-on, applied learning seminars. Based off the interests, strengths, and passions of our students, seminars offered will be led by staff and community members to provide opportunities for meaningful learning experiences that are different from what already exists in our school’s curriculum offerings. Teachers will be assessing and providing feedback to students through Schoology, using learning scales tied to transferable skills, as students document their learning through their personalized learning plans.

Students will have the opportunity to dive deep into one of their three seminars, creating a presentation and/or project for our J-Term Learning Expo on June 14th (let us know if you are coming and RSVP here!).

SLIMS, Schoology, and Bears, Oh My!

April Showers Bring Authentic Learning Opportunities (and Flowers)

As we finished up the end of Quarter 3, and the spring to the end of the school year begins, students have been engaging in a variety of awesome authentic learning opportunities:
  • As part of a personalized learning project, a group of middle level students travelled down to Hardwick Elementary School several times during March and April to help teach upcoming Hazenites about the environment, renewable energy, and ways to make a difference. Several times over the past few years TRY for the Environment, an extension of Vermont Energy Education Program, has visited Hazen with the aim of lowering our carbon footprint. The four eighth grade students developed their mentoring experience and made some great connections.

All of this great work happening in and outside of the classroom supports our goal of creating personalization and authenticity within our changing system of education. As we work to build a strong foundation based in best practice, we will continue to embed authentic learning tasks into our classrooms, refine our instructional and assessment practices, and become more comfortable with incorporating new tools with the old in our ever changing sandbox.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

What a Time to be @HAZEN!

Here at Hazen, we regularly communicate and celebrate our school and students. However, I am not sure as a community we fully recognize the opportunities students have to pursue their passions and goals. I want to take a moment to share with our community a snapshot of what Hazen has or is becoming because of the students, parents, faculty and staff, and community that support Hazen Union School:

Joel Heller & Crew: Joel Heller is a high school math teacher at Hazen. Over February break, he and 4 students  worked for close to 14 hours and entered into a Math competition that focused on ocean waves. They should hear their results of their entry this week sometime. The quote from one student was " I really don't usually like Math but I had so much fun!" Another student told a teacher that he was so upset that he missed it because of another commitment. We can all agree that Joel is providing our students with these opportunities is fantastic!

Hazen Basketball: For two years now the Hazen Boys Varsity Basketball team has made the Division 3 Finals at the Barre Auditorium with a championship in 2016. Unfortunately the boys came up just a bit short Saturday night but a big shoutout to Aaron Hill and the program that he as created for students’ whose passion is basketball. It is also important to note the fan base and the Hazen pride that was exhibited during both games at the Barre Aud this week. As the saying goes “ be...a Hazen Wildcat!”

Drama the witness: The critics are raving! “The Witness” is a must see and the crew and cast have worked incredibly hard. Year after year, Marc Considine, Tess Martin, and crew put in tremendous hours of work to prepare students whose passion is drama and it pays off. The productions are top shelf.

Debate: Do I need to say anything more than #HazenDebateRocks? Our team did great and made it to the Vermont State semi-finals this March. This young program has made tremendous progress in a short amount of time competing against elite programs like CVU. Much like we celebrate athletic prowess in this country, I think it is important to celebrate the performance of people who are willing to use brain power and deliver on some topics that have tremendous weight. We are so proud of this crew! A big thanks is in order to David Kelley for his coaching this season.

ML Northeast Music Festival: Again, do I need to say anything more than #HazenBand&ChorusRocks? Middle level students walked the walk up in Newport this weekend. Huge props go out to Mason Mills and Talan Bryant for preparing our students and again showing the state what an amazing program we have here. Year after year the talent that our young performers exhibit at these events and festivals is impressive. The amount of talent for such a small community is impressive.

Flexible Pathways: Along with an increasingly diverse program of studies, more and more students are engaging in opportunities outside the classroom with programs that include work-based learning, internships, college courses, independent studies, and career and technical education programs. This is in part due to our tremendous guidance department that includes Chris Miller, Allie O’Hara, Lynn Patenaude and Jen Olsen and the connections they have made with members of the community, higher education organizations, and business owners.

Community Partnerships: We have long recognized the importance of community partnerships and place-based learning here at Hazen as we work to implement personalized learning programs. While we still have a long ways to go, we are in the process of building some great partnerships. For example, we are in the pilot stage of a partnership with the Highland Performing Arts Center and Hazen students will be some of the first to perform on the new stage in Greensboro. Other examples include a partnership with the Food Venture Center here in Hardwick and a potential to collaborate with Circus Smirkus. These efforts are the result of a proactive board and a faculty and staff willing to form great relationships with our community.

In summary, this is just a small snapshot of what it is happening here at Hazen! What a great time to be at Hazen and the progress that we have made over the last four years is very exciting. Please continue to support the work that we are doing.

Thank you,

-Mike Moriarty

Hazen Union School

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Screen-Free Challenge Day Recap

On Wednesday, December 21st, Hazen held its first Screen-Free Challenge Day. The challenge was optional, and asked students and teachers to attempt to go screen-free for the day. A “device hotel” was created in the middle level lab where students could store their personal device for the day. About 28 students chose to take advantage of this option. In return, they earned a raffle ticket for a drawing held at lunch the next day, with incentives that included books, a backpack, chocolate, and more. Raffle tickets were also earned by going screen-free through an entire class, and by watching the documentary Screenagers.

This event was designed to educate students about the effects of screen time on their developing brains, as well as to encourage them to consider how screen time affects their social interactions. Some comments from students included: “Without my phone I could really hang out with friends instead of texting,” “The one thing I noticed was how hard the classes were to do without our iPads,” and “It forced us to have discussions face-to-face and I really liked that.” The day had students and teachers engaging in meaningful conversation about screen-time and the choices we make around it.

After the success of Hazen’s first screen-free challenge, another is being planned for March 20th. We hope to build on the experience of the first, adding more information and challenges. In addition, another screening of Screenagers will be held in the Hazen auditorium on Tuesday, January 10th at 6pm. We hope you can join us.

Friday, December 16, 2016

What's the Story!?

Two Hazen high school students are participating in an exciting opportunity at Middlebury College with students from around the state. Read about it here:

Hi! I’m Clara Lew-Smith, a Hazen junior, and I want to tell you about a learning opportunity that’s interesting, relevant, and challenging. “What’s the Story?” is a social justice and action class through Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English, unique both in its content and form. Another student, sophomore Sidney Carr, and I are participating, and so far we’ve attended one day-long meeting and two retreats spanning a day and a half over weekends in November and December. The course is student driven, so the year starts with every student spending time exploring an issue which they perceive to be affecting Vermont communities. This year, these ranged from environmental issues involving pollution in Lake Champlain, to sexism and the perpetuation of the gender binary, to educational progress and equity. Once they have spent about a month and a half researching, exploring the depth of the issue, and blogging about their progress in response to different prompts every week, every student creates a short presentation on their topic to be pitched at the November retreat. We spent a weekend hearing about each others’ work and then undergoing the messy and complicated process of grouping ourselves into teams with one common goal. In those teams (there are five or six, each one with 1-5 members), we planned our goals for the intervening month until the December retreat. In my team, we created a shared Google Folder to hold our progress, including the notes and resources we’d drafted in our first team meeting. We planned to meet once a week via Google Hangout to stay on the same track, and we have a document on which we record our meeting notes and our plans and action for each week. This helps us not only divide the work, but stay unified, especially since our team members live in four different places around the state.

Every team will have a final project, most likely a documentary, so our most recent retreat was focused on preparing for interviews (although we also reevaluated and set new goals and explored topics such as our own limiting political bias). We learned how to operate multiple pieces of equipment (each team gets a “media kit”), navigated the various facets of intentionally planning and filming an interview with a Middlebury film professor, and practiced using our new skills. We meet again in January, and the intervening period is to be used to collect as many perspectives as possible through interviews.

“What’s the Story?” is incredible in that in order for students to succeed, they must develop not only the passion to make positive change, but the mature communication and cooperation skills to work within their team and to convey their message. The process allows for students to decide how and when they communicate and what they’re responsible for, and every student has a blog to record their learning, the obstacles they face, and their development both as an individual and as it pertains to their individual topic. My topic this year is Equity in Education for New American and English Language Learner Students, and if you’re interested in learning more about my work so far, feel free to contact me or read my blog:

Thursday, December 8, 2016


Screen time is becoming a topic of concern for parents as their children spend more and more time in front of screens at school and in their free time. Screen time can affect a child's health, disrupt sleep patterns, and cause anxiety and attention problems. As parents face these issues, they need to be informed in order to make the best decisions for their children and themselves.

To bring about more understanding of the issue, Hazen Union School will be hosting a screening of Screenagers, a documentary focusing on how to navigate the digital world with teenagers. "...With surprising insights from authors, psychologists, and brain scientists, SCREENAGERS reveals how tech time impacts kids’ development and offers solutions on how adults can empower kids to best navigate the digital world and find balance." This event is a lead up to Hazen's Screen Free Challenge, which will take place during the school day December 21st.

Hazen invites the communities served by Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union to this screening being held Monday, December 19th at 6:00pm in the Hazen auditorium.