Friday, April 29, 2016

Session Five at LCS

This session we are lucky to be hosting three amazing workshops! Susan Mahony is teaching beginning violin to her small and focused group of two, on both Mondays and Wednesdays. John Amory is teaching Improv to two different groups of students, the younger group meeting on Monday and the older group on Wednesday. Lastly, Elliot Cluba is continuing to teach two groups of Tae Kwon Do on Tuesdays.

In Susan's Beginner Violin workshop, students start by learning the basics with “box violins” before being introduced to a real violin. Using a box violin helps to be able to see and learn the different parts of the violin, without the distraction of the noise of an actual violin. Students also practice body awareness by learning the proper stance to have while playing the violin, where to touch and how to hold the violin and bow, how to take a proper bow, and even how to march while playing! Susan's many years of teaching comes through with the various games and activities she uses to engage and teach her students. The small size of the class, paired with the focus of the students, has allowed the group to move forward quickly!

 As this is John's third workshop at LCS, the students have gotten to know and love him, which is evident by their shared excitement upon his arrival! Since there was so much interest in last sessions Improv workshop, we decided to offer two groups this session, based on age. Students start with determining what Improv is, and some basic rules of Improv. The workshop offers an outlet for the students' active imaginations, as well as a venue for working on communication skills, including speaking in front of a group and listening to peers. Students take turns being in scenes and in the audience, as well as offering ideas for the scenes and characters.

Tae Kwon Do continues to meet on Tuesday's, with a core group of commited students who have been participating throughout the year, and will continue on through early June. Students have shown both physical growth, as well as growth in other areas such as listening skills and self-control. Students were invited to attend a gathering with other students from across the state.  All participants were recognized and received medals for their efforts, which helped to boost self-esteem and confidence. The year-long commitment that students have made to their practice of Tae Kwon Do is commendable!

As this is the last session of the year, we would like to thank all of the teachers and students who have participated, making the program a success, as well as the teachers and staff who volunteered their classroom space. We are looking forward to continuing the program next year, and are always open to ideas for workshops!   Thank you!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Old MacDonald Had a Farm...

I often talk about how lucky I feel getting to organize Expanded Learning Program workshops for students at Robinson Elementary. As Session V, our final session of the school year, has gotten underway I once again find myself lucky. This time I am lucky because I am learning right along with the students.

Kerry Kurt, owner and operator of Unbound Grace at Sentinel Farms in Starksboro has opened her barn doors to our students. I get to travel along as the chauffeur and chaperone. We showed up to the farm on Day 1 and the only way I can describe the excitement of the students is as if they had entered the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds for the first time. They had the attention spans of gnats. Kerry, who has upwards of 15 summer campers took everything in stride.

Our first task was learning how to groom a horse. Our test subject was Charlotte. She was very patient while the little hands learned which brushes to use and in which order to use the different brushes. Dylan, a 3rd grader, was psyched about brushing her tail and couldn't wait to braid it when he was finished!

On Day 2 the attention spans grew, by a few seconds. They were even excited to learn how to clean out a stall. Think shoveling poop. (I opted out of this learning experience). Kerry took us on a tour of the property where we were able to get up close and personal with 4 calves. We also saw all 15 of her horses, including her yearlings.

The students involved in this workshop are lucky to have Kerry as their leader. As we went on our walking tour Kerry shared many of her reasons for opening her farm to students. As we watched the four students run as fast as their legs would carry them towards the calves she said, "They need this. They need to run without structure." How true. In a world where we have allowed strict schedules to rule our lives and our children's lives it is refreshing to have an adult who understands the bigger picture.