Sunday, September 11, 2016

A New Year with New Opportunities

The start of the school year has been very successful with a number of new opportunities for students, as well as new systems to support teaching and learning. With a new year and a number of changes, we have witnessed a variety of excitement and anxiety. Researcher in education, Michael Fullan, describes change as this:

Organizations transform when they can establish mechanisms for learning in the dailiness of organizational life. People make… fundamental transitions by having many opportunities to be exposed to ideas, to argue them to their own normative belief systems, to practice the behaviors that go with those values, to observe others practicing those behaviors and most importantly to be successful at practicing in the presence of others (that is, to be seen to be successful).  

At Hazen, we are trying to be very intentional about our change and the opportunities that we are creating in a manner that supports everyone in our school community. Our overarching goal for this year to continue with the implementation of a proficiency-based Learning (PBL) model of education. It is our belief that through PBL, students will be able to clearly demonstrate the knowledge and skills that will prepare them for a variety of pathways. To support students we have implemented the following:

  • 1:1 Initiative, every student in our school has an iPad or a Chromebook
  • A 4-point grading system based on proficiency towards learning outcomes
  • Increased flexible pathways beyond the traditional program of studies
  • A new learning management system called Schoology to support teaching and learning in the classroom  
  • A new pre-technical forestry and agriculture program

We firmly believe that this is the right work and the growth we have seen in the past 3 years is amazing. We will be holding our annual open house on September 13th and invite all parents and guardians to come in and meet our faculty and staff. We will also be holding a forum on our new 4 point grading system for those interested in learning more.

-Michael Moriarty & John Craig

Friday, September 9, 2016

Fresh Poetry on the Trails!

The following guest post is from Sue Trecartin, former Hazen teacher and current member of the Hardwick Trails Committee:

“You know, we’ve been back in school for three weeks, and I haven’t even been out on the Hardwick Trails yet!” said Kaleb.
“Same here. And I think our poems might be out there somewhere,” replied Jennifer.
“Let’s go check it out after school today,” said Kaleb.
“Yeah, good idea.”

This fictitious conversation could have occurred between two of Hazen’s writers this week because there are five Hazen poets represented on the green trail this year. Called the Eaton Brook Loop, the trail starts at the end of the parking lot and winds behind the tech center, along the brook and comes down the sugar road. Every year, twelve new poems are posted and this year has some beauties. Here’s an example:

The night stands still
A lone cricket chirps twice
To break the silence
The wolf walks out of the woods
Leaps on a rock
Howls at the moon

A single drop falls to the forest floor
Sliding off of a leaf
And lands on a lone cricket
And all is still in the dead of night

Noah Wilson

Poems by published poets include old favorites like Galway Kinnell’s “Blackberry Eating” and current ones like “Grouse Call” by Vermont’s new Poet Laureate Chard deNiord. There’s even a poem by one of Hazen’s alumni Marty Schneider, “The Gym,” that anyone who’s come to a basketball game can relate to.

Take a walk or a run on the green trail. Stop and enjoy the poetry. If you don’t want to miss any, pick up a Poetry Loop map at the trailhead.

Another recent and fun addition on the trail is the Little Library, bright orange and purple, near the bridge with a bench to sit and browse, or you can just take a book with you.

Sue Trecartin

Hardwick Trails Committee

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Summer Letter to Parents

Summer 2016

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Our current understanding of how our students learn and the increasing individualization of pathways to high school completion under Vermont Act 77 - Flexible Pathways requires Hazen to analyze its grading and reporting.  Students, parents, teachers, administrators, and future evaluators of Hazen transcripts all need Hazen Union’s grading and reporting system to clearly, accurately, and consistently communicate individual student achievement of high-quality universal learning targets.

The percentage-based A-F grading system does not serve these needs for any of the system’s users and is based on a model of education from the 20th century. That grading system is better for sorting students than for helping them learn and improve, and it is prone to subjectivity, error, and bias. Furthermore, it impedes clear and accurate communication about what students can actually do.  It masks student proficiency behind attendance, effort, behavior, and extra-activities.  Finally, It has resulted in credit toward graduation being granted in cases where student summative performances do not demonstrate proficiency or even near-proficiency in some or even all learning targets. It is time to move away from this outdated grading and reporting system.

At Hazen, we are electing to replace this old system with a grading and reporting system that facilitates conversations about student learning and growth. Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, our grading and reporting will be based on a four point scale that measures student progress towards learning outcomes, reported alongside information about their demonstrated academic habits. We are in the process of scheduling opportunities for school community forums so that we can discuss what questions students, parents, and guardians might have. Please see our FAQ enclosed with this letter and be on the lookout for more information later in the summer.


Michael D. Moriarty Ed.D. John C. Craig M.Ed.
Principal Associate Principal

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Continued focus on safety at Hazen Union through the end of the school year

Hazen Union students and staff focus on learning and finishing out the school year, even with increased security measures following an anonymous online threat Sunday, June 12th. The threat occurred through the "After School" social media app, which prompted extra safety precautions this week.

For the second time, students were met by staff at the front doors of Hazen Union for a bag search. Again, nothing was found. Students were respectful and helpful during this process. School administrators continue to collaborate with the Hardwick Police as part of an ongoing investigation.

Parents/guardians received a call on Monday morning to inform them of the threat and that the school would be taking precautions to ensure student and staff safety. A follow up call was sent to Hazen parents/guardians Monday afternoon with the plan for the remainder of the year. Information about the situation and the ongoing investigation was sent to local news channels Monday afternoon to help keep the broader community informed in addition to posting on the school’s website and social media and OSSU’s website.

General updates about the school will be sent out on the school’s social media accounts Tuesday and Wednesday. Links to these sites are below. At this time, all scheduled events, including field trips and activities, will continue as planned. As a general precaution, there will be increased supervision and increased police presence for the remainder of the school year.

Hazen Union on Facebook:
Hazen Union on Twitter:

Read the full update provided by Superitnendent LeBlanc and Hazen Union Administrators on June 13th:

Read a May blog post by Hazen Administrators on the potential dangers of social media apps like After School, as well as conversation starters for parents and students on the topic of safety while using social media:

Social Media and Security

A few weeks ago, the “Afterschool” app gained popularity at Hazen Union School in Hardwick, VT. The app, through Facebook,  allows users to post anonymously to a group without being traced back to the user’s identity. The app’s website states that the intention is “a place for teens who want to be themselves, make new connections, and participate in positive activities - both online and offline.” I could not disagree more with this statement. The group that has been created through this app labeled “Hazen Uhsd #26” is filled with such foul vocabulary that is meant to intimidate, humiliate, and ridicule. Through this app, not only have students been bullied and harassed, but faculty and staff have been targeted as well. A large majority of our students are extremely upset and feel like it is out of control. As a school leader, I have felt helpless since there is very little we can do to support our students other than trying to be proactive through our lines of communication with stakeholders due to the anonymity of the app. That doesn’t feel very helpful when you have students in offices crying about something that has been posted about them and we can not respond with anything other than the trivial “sorry” and “if you get any specific information, please let us know.” This includes the recent anonymous threat that was posted and led to our heightened security. I would like to thank students and staff for responding in a very positive manner over the last few days. I would also like to thank Hardwick Police for the collaboration in making school safe and the current investigation that is under way.

Over the last few days we have been asking students ideas about the "Afterschool" App in a survey. Here is what students are feeling:

I would like people on the Afterschool App group "Hazen Uhsd #26" to stop posting negative things(116 responses)

The message is clear. It is very unsettling to think that an app like this would be created and supported by the social media industry. Schools already have the overwhelming task of responding to issues that are outside of the school walls. It takes a community effort to focus on society values and it is getting harder and harder to understand what those values are with the amount of negativity that takes place on social media.

Schools and school leaders need to consider ways in which they can teach students about how social media can foster their growth and development. This includes inside and out of the school walls and it must include a variety of stakeholders: parents, community members, and state social service agencies. Essentially, we need to teach civil discourse to promote values that reflect a positive and all embracing community.

Have a safe and happy summer.


Dr. Michael D. Moriarty
Hazen Union School

Monday, June 13, 2016

Collaborative Investigation and Continued Focus on Safety at Hazen Union After Anonymous Threat

Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union
Hardwick, VT  
June 13, 2016

Collaborative Investigation and Continued Focus on Safety at Hazen Union After Anonymous Threat

Hazen Union Administrators, Superintendent LeBlanc, and Hardwick Police focus on student and staff safety while investigating an anonymous online threat.

Coordination and planning began Sunday afternoon after Hazen Union Administrators learned of an anonymous threat made through the “After School” social media app. A few Hazen students reported the post to Principal Michael Moriarty, which led to a series of proactive steps to secure the building Monday morning.

“Thanks to the Hardwick Police and through the cooperation of students and staff, Monday morning went smoothly. In an effort to ensure safety, all student bags were searched at the door. Nothing was found. An officer and police dog were present on school grounds today. The Hardwick Police will continue to work collaboratively with us on this investigation,” reported Superintendent Joanne LeBlanc.

Principal Michael Moriarty sent a phone message to parents and guardians at approximately 3:30 PM Monday confirming classes will be in session through Wednesday, the last school day of the year. In addition, all planned activities, field trips, and events will continue as planned. His message stated, “Every precaution will be made to ensure safety. We take all threats seriously and care about the safety and well being of everyone. Please take time to speak with your children about the impact social media has on our community.”

The message also stated that the building will remain locked and bag searches of every student entering the building will continue Tuesday and Wednesday morning. There will be increased supervision and increased police presence for the remainder of the school year.

Hazen Union staff attempted to contact the company that created the app in search of any information that might help identify the source of the threat, which can be difficult given the app is designed to allow anonymous posting. Detective Kevin Lehoe from the Hardwick Police Department spent several hours at Hazen on Monday as part of a collaborative, ongoing investigation. During a phone interview, Detective Lehoe stated, “The Hardwick Police Department will continue to maintain a presence at Hazen Union to assure students and faculty of their safety. This is an ongoing investigation, and we are unable to divulge detailed information at this time. We are in contact with the internet providers associated with this threat.”

Any information that may help the investigation should be sent to the Hardwick Police Department and Hazen Union. Questions related to Hazen Union’s schedule or activities through Wednesday, June 15th, should be directed to the Hazen Union main office at (802) 472-6511.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Blended Learning

Learn about the online and blended learning happening at Hazen in this week's Guest Post from our tech integrationist Jen Burton:

Blended and online learning are becoming more and more commonplace in K-12 education. Blended learning differs from online learning in that blended learning has an in-person, face-to-face component, while online learning does not. This does not mean students don’t interact with their teachers in strictly online learning environments; students may be required to participate in live, online interactive sessions with their teacher and other students. The variety of ways students and teachers interact online is continually evolving, allowing for increased access to high-quality teachers, customization to fit student needs, and flexibility. Many students take advantage of online classes to recover credits, take advanced and honors classes, or simply to get ahead.

Online learning allows for the elimination of artificial schedules, assignments that don’t fit the students’ needs, and segregation by age, race, class, culture, and disability. In addition, it can help overcome geographic and demographic limitations. When learning is public and shared, peers learn from each other and support reciprocal growth. Students are allowed to become teachers and learners at the same time, with the quality of work benefitting from the extra time, collaboration, and expertise. 

This year, Hazen began offering all seventh graders the opportunity to take an Introduction to Online Learning class. This class introduces students to the concept of online learning and teaches them the skills required to be successful in an online class. We want our students to be prepared for the variety of learning experiences they will encounter as they pursue their education at high school, college, technical centers, continuing education, and beyond. This class gives students the opportunity to experience what it’s like to take an online class and helps them determine if it suits their learning style and is or isn’t a suitable option for them

Below are two students reflections on the class, offering two different perspectives. 

     What I know now, that I did not know before this class is;I know how to use multiple different online learning systems, and I know how to access them. I also now have a greater knowledge about online learning, and I have learned how important online learning is, and how it is a good option for me.
    The most important thing that I have learned in this class is online etiquette. I have learned how to be kind, polite, and helpful online. I have learned not to be rude to other students, and how to stay calm, and what to do in certain situations. I now have a kind mindset when I go online.
     I think that online learning is a good option for me, because it is convenient, and it is flexible. Online learning allows me to log on and “go to class” when I can. It allows me to have available time slots in my day, because I don’t have to be at a class, or at school at a certain time.
     The activity log’s importance/role is to show the teacher/student when the student had logged on, and what they had gotten done that day. It shows what the students progress was. The activity can tell the teacher, if the student has been logging on regularly, and if they are getting their work done.
     After looking at the course catalog, I think that I will consider taking an online English class. I also believe that I will take a pre-algebra class. I enjoy math and english and I believe that if I take an online class, than it can expand my knowledge about my favorite subjects.


     I think that Online learning is not really for me however that does not mean I am unable to take online courses. From questionnaires to assignments, I have proved to be very capable in taking online courses but It does not seem like my thing. I would much rather prefer to go to classrooms to learn thing I need to.
   This class has given me a better understanding of how online courses work even though it may have not been for me. I have learnt the basics and what the concept of these courses are. From LMS' to the seven C's of communication, This class has helped me understand online courses much better.