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Launching Genius at Neil Armstrong Elementary

Students at Neil Armstrong Elementary, Home of the Positive Astros, have been busy launching their genius all year long! At Neil Armstrong Elementary, we believe that all students have genius. It is our job as educators to help students discover just what their genius is and how to share it with others. We work to empower our students to find their voice and to know that they ultimately are in charge of their own life’s plan. It is amazing to see what children can do when we entrust them as leaders of their own learning. Our students boldly set both academic and personal goals each nine weeks and write and track their goals in their Leadership Notebooks. Students proudly share their goals, data and victories with their parents and visitors to our school.

Recently, we held our Annual Leadership Day, and our students were in charge of school-wide tours, gave speeches, preformed musical pieces, answered visitors’ questions, and shared what they are working on in their classes with attendees. Mrs. Schlundt, Ms. English and Mrs. Flanigan’s 5th graders walked guests through a simulated Class Meeting. Class Meetings are based on strategies used in Restorative Justice. These circles empower our students to resolve conflicts on their own and express their genius through emphasizing accountability and transparency.

Mrs. Mulligan and her 3rd grade students lead guests through their work on a mini-DBQ Project. Document-Based Questions engage all students in high-level critical thinking activities. Our students shared their comprehensive work/arguments gathered from evidence collected from various types of documents/sources.

Our Media Specialist, Mrs. Kipfinger, led student Reader Leaders from all grade levels to lead guests through how they “put their foot on the moon” by achieving their end-of-the-year reading Lexile exit goals already this year! In addition, Mrs. Welsh’s 3rd grade class and Ms. Sylver’s 1st grade class shared their instruction that allowed implementation of strategies that good readers use to be successful.

Ms. Watts’ 2nd grade students were excited to share how they map their science thinking using Thinking Maps. Students presented posters that represented their research and thought process based on animal research.

Mr. Eyrich, our S.T.E.M. Teacher, asked his Coding Club students to demonstrate their knowledge of coding using Code.org. Students also highlighted their 21st century skills as they displayed various methods they learned to program and control their spherical robots. Our Positive Astros kindergarten students in Ms. Papol, Mrs. Riggio and Mrs. Aspiolea’s classes shared their data, Leadership Notebooks and sight words knowledge with guests, too.

Philanthropist T. Deny Sanford had a vision for creating positive change in the world. His vision resulted in creation of the Sanford Harmony curriculum. This curriculum uses practical strategies, stories, activities, and lessons for improving relationships, teaching empathy, increasing student confidence, and reducing bullying. This is the first year we have used Sanford Harmony and are delighted with how this program is contributing to our positive school culture. Mrs. Smith’s 1st graders and Mr. Clark’s 4th graders shared how they utilize the Sanford Harmony curriculum in their classes.

Finally, our 5th grade students, Academy students, staff members and guests participated in the I AM… Campaign, sponsored by Dr. David Rowe and Paradise Dental. This project encouraged students to thoughtfully select a word that embodies who they are. This empowering activity provided an opportunity for all involved to share their stories and something positive about themselves. On Thursday, April 18th from 6:00pm to 7:30pm, Paradise Dental will transform First Alliance Church Family Life Center (20444 Midway Blvd., Port Charlotte, FL 33952) into the I AM… Exhibit and display the beautiful and inspiring I AM... images of our students, staff members and community leaders.

It is so very important that our students know they have genius and can and should share it with others, that they are valued by others, and that their learning will lead them to great opportunities in their futures!

Angie Taillon, Principal