As K-12 education evolves, the Burrell School District continues to embrace innovative approaches to learning, from a state-of-the-art adventure simulation lab at Stewart Elementary and robots at Huston Middle School to game-based learning in the high school.
Even gym class is different than it was 20 years ago.
You might say the students at Stewart Elementary School are on a mission. Since the January debut of the school’s state-of-the-art adventure-simulation lab, they’ve been called upon to stop the spread of a mysterious plague, determine whether an island is about to be destroyed by a volcano and prevent a time warp from altering the course of history — no small undertakings for anyone, let alone fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders.
“Fifth grade is a good time for kids to start thinking about what life has in store,” says Egnor, principal at Stewart Elementary School. “In middle school, things ramp up in terms of academics. And in high school you’re getting ready for college and thinking about a career.”
Over the summer, new window applications were installed building-wide, in addition to the construction of a new building entranceway that greatly improves school safety. “The new windows will offer a significant impact on the comfort of our classrooms, especially in the warmer months,” says Dr. Gregory Egnor, building principal. “It will also provide significant savings in energy costs in the winter.”
When 4th and 5th grade students think about spring fun, science typically doesn’t leap to the top of the list. But that notion might start to change if events like Stewart Elementary School’s Science Olympiad continue to achieve success.
In what could be described as a controlled frenzy of learning and discovery, a total of 64 teams squared off in 8 different competitions on May 29th. Students applied their knowledge and creativity in “hands-on, minds-on” challenges relating to scientific disciplines ranging from rocketry and map reading to electromagnetism and the ever-popular Egg Drop (pictured here).
The 20 fifth-grade girls who are part of Stewart Elementary School’s GEMS club think they’re just having fun with science and math after school. They are really preparing for their futures.
The Girls Excelling in Math and Science, or GEMS, club strives to break down the stereotype that boys are better at math and sciences by offering girls fun ways to become engaged in the subject matter – and hopefully spark an interest in STEM-related careers for girls.
D.A.R.E. vehicle donated by Hillcrest Volkswagen
Burrell School District students are among the first in the nation to learn about drug resistance with a new D.A.R.E. program. What’s more, what they learn in the classroom will be reinforced in the community, thanks to a brand-new D.A.R.E. vehicle donated to the Lower Burrell Police Department by Hillcrest Volkswagen.
Burrell Elementary Fitness Awards
Elementary physical education teachers Steve White and Justin Miller hope that their new program will take students’ focus on fitness out of the school gymnasium and into everyday life.
This year, the teachers will implement the Burrell Elementary Fitness Awards, a substitute for the Presidential Physical Fitness Awards that the schools have taken part of in past years. “Our main goal with the awards is to promote lifelong fitness,” says Mr. White. “We wanted to come up with a program that more kids could be successful at, to plant the idea that they can be successful with fitness even at an early age.”
Teachers Take the Lead on New Programs
Experience is the best of teachers, and with a full year of STEM success under their belts, Stewart Elementary teachers are ready to embrace a stronger leadership role. “The most satisfying professional experience that I have ever had was watching our staff grow into the STEM program last year,” says Principal Greg Egnor. “This time a year ago, I was taking the lead in developing STEM programs. But now the staff has bought in, they’re engaged with our STEM school. They’ve taught the Engineering is Elementary curriculum enough that they are the real experts, not me.”
District Spelling Bee Crowns Champion
Seven weeks of studying and practicing paid off for three elementary students when they were named Burrell’s top spellers on May 31. Thirty students participated in the second-annual Elementary School District Champion Spelling Bee at the Stewart School auditorium before an audience of family, friends, and faculty. After nearly four grueling hours of spelling, second grade student Georgia Brothers took top honors, with third-grader Carson Ley and fifth-grader Lucas Ciesielski placing second and third, respectively.