Arts, sciences flourish in grade schools

Jun 8, 2017 by

Published in the June 9, 2017 edition

MELROSE — Superintendent of Schools Cyndy Taymore announces that due to a strong partnership with PTOs, the Creative Arts and Sciences Program at Melrose’s five elementary schools is flourishing.

For the last five years, principals at the Hoover, Horace Mann, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Winthrop elementary schools have worked with their PTOs to plan events that build upon the curriculum and material learned in the classroom.

Each year, PTOs raise thousands of dollars to bring in specialized presentations, projects and group work for students. Then, during the summer months, a subcommittee of PTO members, the school’s principal and community members brainstorm ideas for areas of specialized content.

“At the elementary school level, we’re primarily driven by math and reading, so we wanted to expand our curriculum for art and science and give students additional time in these areas,” Horace Mann Principal Mary Ellen Cobbs said. “We’re so thankful to our PTO for providing students with these opportunities for extended learning. Without this partnership, none of it would be possible.”

To coincide with the elementary schools’ core values, every year, principals bring in speakers like Brett Outchcunis (“Ooch”), a professional personality and life coach for children, for school-wide presentations and demonstrations that reinforce the established positive behavior system.

Schools have also been able to schedule traveling Museum of Science workshops, which bring hands on engineering, life science and physical science experiences to students. Materials align with each grade and curriculum, so that in kindergarten, students get to interact with animals and their habitats, whereas in fourth grade, rocks and minerals are brought in during that unit of study.

At the Hoover School, PTO member Florence Lee works with Principal Jenny Corduck to bring in presenters that coincide with grade level traditions. As with other school PTOs, the Creative Arts and Sciences Program is largest line item in the PTO’s annual budget.

Jim Parks, who is a licensed raptor rehabilitator and co-owner of WINGMASTERS, visited third graders at Hoover this year with birds of prey to bring to life to the school’s mascot, the Hoover Hawks. For an hour, students were wowed by Parks’ demonstrations with hawks and owls, and were encouraged to ask questions about their habits, environments and more.

The Hoover School and PTO were also able to secure author Jarrett J. Krosoczka, whose Lunch Lady graphic novels are popular among students, for a school-wide event.

Along with a reading and presentation by Krosoczka, in art class, students made signed aprons and a banner for their lunch ladies as a thank you for their hard work every day.

“This event tied in so many different aspects that are important to student learning,” Lee said. “From reading, to art, and really delving into the message behind Krosoczka’s books, this event was all about reminding students about how they can continuously have a positive impact in the school.”

Principals and their PTOs are now gearing up for another summer session of planning fun and worthwhile projects, presentations and events for students.

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