‘The Right Stuff!’
Mrs. Renee Browning
An old story is told of a curious little boy who constantly questioned his grandfather about many things in life. On one particular day he asked his weary grandfather, “What makes the lightning bug light up at night?” The grandfather was not sure of the scientific explanation, so his response was simple, “It is the stuff inside of it.” Today’s research explains that lightning bugs are referred to as fireflies and its unique characteristic is due to the chemical luciferin and the enzyme lucrifase located inside of the insect’s abdomen. So, that grandfather was absolutely correct- The stuff inside of the lightning bug caused it to light up! There is a connection we can make from the firefly illustration for our students, parents, staff, and community. We have great potential, possibility, and purpose inside of us that needs to come to light. As a school family, we have made great progress in the areas of achievement, instructional practices, and attendance. Our next major focus must center on developing and nurturing our students’ interests, attitudes, and values.
This year, our school has reorganized its model into an academy approach in order to address students’ interests and increase their level of motivation and engagement. Students in grades prekindergarten through grade 2 are a part of an Arts Integration Academy that will infuse the arts (visual arts and music) within the curriculum. Students in grades 3-5 will receive instruction through a Technology Academy which will emphasize inquiry skills in the science content and utilize technology to support teaching and learning. For our middle grades students, we will incorporate a College and Career Exploration Academy to ensure grades 6-8 students increase their knowledge of career opportunities and college programs in pursuit of life-long learning.
Furthermore, within each academy, students will have opportunities to complete a quarterly service project and engage in project based learning activities in their subjects. One of the key components of the academies is character education wherein a particular character principle will be taught, modeled, demonstrated and applied through ongoing lessons, discussions, and activities throughout the school year. As a school family, we, too share the parents’ responsibility of depositing the right attitudes, values, and qualities into our children. We recognize the need to light up and stir up the good that is inside of our students.
“Right practices” are in place- balanced literacy approach to engage students to become better readers, writers, and thinkers, 100 Book Challenge to accelerate students’ reading skills, structured phonics instruction in the primary grades, Study Island tutorial practice to strengthen mathematics skills, and daily computation practice with teacher assisted instruction (TAI). We are moving in the right direction to ensure our students receive the quality education they deserve. Yet, we need more than solid instructional practices to ensure our students become socially responsible as individuals and successful contributors in the workforce. With our emphasis upon character education and the new academy structure, we will have the right stuff to shape positive attitudes within our students and illuminate their total essence.