Vivid spots, reward as educators from Colorado Springs hold youngsters busy amid Colorado Springs information pandemic
With classes interrupted and summer activities curtailed, The Gazette noted the following efforts to attract children to education and help families cope with the pandemic:
• • Animals, plants and beetles, oh my god!
Abandoned summer camps due to the ongoing pandemic meant endless hours with cloudy eyes for many students in recent months.
The gifted students of Harrison School District 2 were able to collect “Gifted on the Go” bags to run a self-directed summer camp program. Courtesy photo
But Gifted on the Go bags staved off boredom for 90 third- through eighth grade students in the Harrison School District 2 gifted program.
Dana Seibert, head of the district’s gifted education department, worked with the Catamount Institute to deliver a DIY summer camp experience.
Backpacks filled with advanced curriculum and accessories, including a fishing rod, bait, binoculars, water bottles, insect catcher, sample containers, diaries, and guides, so students and their families can work through the self-guided materials. A free family pass for Cheyenne Mountain State Park was also hidden in it.
This was to be the fourth year of experimental summer camp for Harrison’s 300 undergraduates identified as gifted. Participants usually learn about conservation and do fun activities like stand-up paddleboarding on Prospect Lake, studying rock formations at Cave of the Winds, a high ropes course at the Air Force Academy, and fly fishing at Catamount Camp in Woodland Park, Seibert said.
This year, students were encouraged to explore their backyard, neighborhood, or park. With the materials in their bags, they set out to identify plants, animals and beetles, test the pH of water, practice traceless behavior, do night star research, find animal footprints and knot in Tying a fishing line and learning to water will help save water and other cool things.
“Since we haven’t been to school since March 13, it’s different to do something outside to get families involved,” said Seibert. “The parents were so excited to have them.”
The bags were valued with government grants of approximately $ 50 each.
• • Undocumented families in southeast Colorado Springs are given school supplies and bilingual COVID-19 tests.
Approximately 500 cars per week owned by undocumented and other low-income families living in southeast Colorado Springs pick up free groceries distributed by the Servicios de la Raza office in Colorado Springs, translated as Services for the People.
Undocumented and other low-income families living in southeast Colorado Springs received free backpacks of school supplies through Servicios de la Raza last week.
The organization began giving away non-perishable and fresh foods from the Colorado Springs Food Rescue & Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado four months ago after the pandemic began.
The families received another boost last week: free backpacks with school supplies such as notebooks, pens, pens, markers and other materials.
“The community knew about other school supply events, but they feel very comfortable coming to us where no questions are asked,” said Julissa Soto, director of national programs for Servicios de la Raza. “We assume that we believe what you say and what you do.
“It’s what I call equity.”
A Spanish radio station, Tigre FM, and Hispanos Unidos, a real estate agency, helped pay for the backpacks, which Soto said cost about $ 10,000.
Parents hope that schools will return to face-to-face teaching as many have only finished sixth grade and struggle to help their children learn online.
Free bilingual Spanish-English COVID-19 testing will also be offered during the weekly grocery giveaway every Monday from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Southeast YMCA, 2190 Jet Wing Drive. About 20 people a week are tested, with half getting positive results, Soto said.
“They are frontline workers and the ones most affected by it,” she said.
Servicios de la Raza raised enough money to help those who lost their jobs during plant closures and downsizing and were unable to receive state incentive funds for not being documented to pay out $ 1,000 per family to 310 families in southeast Colorado Springs, said Soto.
“My church needs services and we don’t meet them halfway,” she said.
• • “This virus won’t win everything for itself.”
As COVID-19 began to unravel much of society, Melissa “Mel” Johnson struggled. The Coronado High School social science teacher refused to forego her annual goodie bag tradition for advanced geography students.
“I said this (virus) is not going to win everything for itself,” she said.
Every year, on the day students take the exciting advanced geography exam, which can earn college credit with high scores, Johnson provides a goodie bag afterwards. With the test scheduled to take place on May 5th, Johnson had gifts planned for Cinco de Mayo throughout the year.
With schools closed for distance learning for the final quarter of the 2019-20 school year, Johnson instead dug up an old sewing machine she hadn’t used in ten years and created personal geomasks for students.
Taking the stance that “geography is everywhere,” Johnson localized fabric to sew agricultural and political geography-themed face masks with buttons from a masked puma (the school mascot).
Johnson estimated it would take two hours to get 39 masks to the students’ homes. Your math was off; It was a six-hour errand for Johnson and her 15-year-old daughter, who volunteered to help and record drive time on their learner’s permission.
“We set our course, disinfected everything, put the masks in baggies and tried to make your day a little happier,” she said.
She bets she’ll see some of the creations at school as students return in a few weeks with masks that are just as important as pens and notebooks.
“One student said so be it, we look after each other at Coronado, and it was nice to know that children think that way.”
• • Three educators from one district win Top Leadership Awards.
Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8, where approximately 70% of its students are from military families, received a record number of leadership awards for excellence from the Colorado Association of School Executives.
The winners were officially recognized last week.
Abrams Elementary’s Rochelle Williams was named Assistant Principal of the Year.
Michelle Canon of Patriot Elementary School was named Rookie Principal of the Year.
Wilhelm “Bill” DallasThe Headmaster of Fountain Middle School was named Headmaster of the Year and Headmaster of the Year for Middle School by the Colorado Association of School Executives. Courtesy photo
And William “Bill” Dallas of Fountain Middle School, an educator for 19 years, was named Headmaster of the Year and Headmaster of the Year for Middle School.
He is nationally represented by the National Association of Secondary School Principals for Colorado as Headmaster of the Year.
In this role, Dallas will have the opportunity to discuss education levels with state and national executives and be recognized on a national platform.
Dallas cites teamwork on the rebirth of excellence through student-centered practices to gain recognition for its school.
When he became headmaster at Fountain Middle School in 2016, the school had high turnover, a “less than positive culture” and “really just a general lack of orientation, purpose or vision for us as a school”.
As a result, academic performance slumped and behavior problems increased.
Dallas established systems of student and teacher support, and worked with staff, students and parents to develop a school identity and restart systems to “re-align with a middle school philosophy.”
Improvements in science, behavior, and the environment have created a place where “employees don’t want to go and recruit their friends to teach,” said Dallas.
“I think I have a knack for seeing how multiple parts can fit together into a unified vision and plan,” he said. “The most important thing a leader does is get involved in all aspects of the school and help the staff and students achieve our goals.”
• • Be a hit with Creative Kits.
A team of past and current employees of the Ruth Washburn Cooperative Nursery School created, assembled and supplied more than 600 Be Creative kits for children ages 3 to 8.
Children were asked to think of a show they could do and give away tickets, design their own sparkling wand, tell a story on blank pages of a book, invent a game with dice, fold paper into an origami sculpture and other cool things.
Packed in large packed lunches, the kits provided materials for 10 activities designed to stimulate the creativity and imagination of young children. There were no rules or proper ways to get involved in the project, said Sukie Jackson, project leader.
“The child can take the lead and use their imagination in the contents of the kit,” said Jackson. “In other words, he or she can have fun and be creative.”
The kits were donated for free to programs such as Salvation Army Day Camp, Court Care, Peak Vista First Visitor Program, Early Connections, Pikes Peak Community College Childcare Center, Westside Community Center, YMCA, Families May 19 Participate June, and the Youth March and other locations in the city.
Donations for the materials and volunteers, including older students, helped assemble the bags.