Karen's Blog

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Creativity At Its Best!

I recently shared a story about a teacher, Sabrina Bennett, and the work she does in teaching her ESOL students.  She gives her heart, creativity, and knowledge every day as she spends hours beyond the classroom making sure that her students’ needs are met and that she’s giving them the best opportunity to succeed. She tries to give them “real’ experiences since they are not only learning the English language but also the culture of a new country.

She used the story of Copper and Blast in Northbounders, to give her students an American experience while learning vocabulary and language skills. After reading the book, the students wanted to experience what it is like to hike the Appalachian Trail. Mrs. Bennett set her goals high and aimed for a field trip to Springer Mountain where the A.T. begins in Georgia.  When that didn’t work, she brought the A.T. to them.

Mrs. Bennett and her co-teacher, Kelli Dixon, created a mock hike of the A.T. on their school campus! They painted the white blazes for the students to follow while hiking and found similar terrain for each of the states that they traversed. There were signs to let them know when they entered a new state and they snapped pictures at the state signs as they crossed the border.  The students climbed over rocks, up hills, down hills, discussed dirty water at the filtration plant, hung their bear bags filled with food, and even found snow as they came into North Carolina. And just as the hikers in the book did, the ESOL class hikers had a snowball fight!  They stopped for pictures and signed the official log book at the A.T. conservancy in West Virginia, ate ½ gallon of ice cream at the ½ way point in Pennsylvania, encountered bears and skunks in New Jersey, and sang the “Wheels on the Truck” as they passed through Massachusetts in honor of Copper’s ride in the Penske truck. The students encountered gale force winds (from a turbo fan) as they entered into the White Mountains of New Hampshire where the worst weather in the world exists.  And, of course, they climbed Mt. Katahdin and had a picture made at the sign on the top of the mountain to certify their success. The students made it!

How creative is THAT!?  I was so impressed that I asked her to send pictures to share with my readers.  She graciously agreed and also shared some sad, sad news.  She’s retiring this year after 40 years of teaching!  Yes, she created an Appalachian Trail mock thru-hike in her 40th year!

Mrs. Bennett, thank you for sharing your love for children and thank you for sharing your creativity with us. You are an inspiration!  Those students are going to miss you terribly next year.

Karen

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