Tuesday, September 11, 2012

SEM: The Journey Continues!

The new school year brings with it new teachers, fresh haircuts, new school supplies, and bright smiles as students and teachers eagerly make their way back to the classroom.  At Austin Elementary, the start of the 2012-2013 school year brings with it something more...a new step in our journey toward total school wide enrichment.  This year, we are so excited to continue our weekly E-Time tradition as all students and staff participate in some type of interest based enrichment activity for one hour every Friday morning.   More importantly, we are looking to expand the Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM) through the implementation of multi-age Enrichment Clusters.  As part of this renewed vision, we are hoping to include even more parent and community volunteers to join the fun!  Over the last couple of weeks, students and parents throughout the building have been eagerly completing a variety of interest surveys  and talent portfolios in preparation for the start of of this year's E-Time adventure.
 

Already, I have seen some exciting enrichment activities taking place in the classroom. This past Friday, I was amazed as I walked around the building and found our Austin Mustangs engaged in so many different learning opportunities.  Friendship salad in kindergarten, science experiments in first grade, animal exploration in second...the list goes on and on!  I  spoke with a third grader who couldn't wait to show me her origami creation, and watched in awe as some fourth graders demonstrated amazing thinking skills while working on strategy games of all kinds.  Fifth graders were working on lots of different activities.  Some were involved in arts and crafts, while others were outside working on fun and fitness during a kickball game.  Another group of fifth graders was learning how to use PowerPoint to create digital cartoons.  Amazing!


As exciting as it all is, SEM goes much deeper than mere fun and games.  It is about helping kids identify their strengths and recognize their talents.  It is about igniting within them a passion for learning, and helping them to understand the power they have to use that passion to impact their world.  It is about empowering kids to take charge of their own learning and acknowledging that they have ideas of their own...good ones!  It is about guiding them to give back to a world that has given so much to them.  One student summed it up well.  When asked by his teacher, "How can we give back to the community through a magic cluster?" he innocently replied, "We can turn all the poor people into rich people!"  Naive?  Maybe...but you can't beat the enthusiasm.  You can't teach a child to show that kind of compassion.  You can only help him to discover it!
 
If you are interested in joining us on our SEM journey, I would love to show you the way.  Feel free to contact me by phone at 214-496-7335 or by email at lmalone@coppellisd.com.

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