2014-05-08 / Youth

It takes a village to raise a child

Education notes
Sharon McKinney

I’ve heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child. The village here in Port Aransas is known for working together to provide a well-rounded education for all of the young people in our community. We were all reminded of the commitment and support from our community at the recent Port Aransas Education Foundation (PAEF) grant awards assembly. The PAEF funded all 74 grants that PAISD teachers submitted this spring! Those 74 grants total nearly $114,000!

In the past, Port Aransas High School students have benefitted from PAEF grants in a multitude of ways. When you walk into Ryan Piwetz’s classroom, you see some student desks that remind you it is a classroom, but the focal point of the room is a pool table and numerous aquariums funded by PAEF grants. Beginning on the first day of school, the pool table is used to introduce physics concepts that students will learn throughout the year. It certainly does not resemble my first day of physics class when I was in high school! Throughout the year, science students plan for their aquarium miniature ecosystems and create them in Piwetz’s classroom. Most of the sealife in the aquariums is brought in by our students and community members who caught them in our local waters.

Our English teachers are always looking for literature that engages our students. After reading a recent novel, The Book Thief, our teachers determined that this would be an excellent novel to use in our English classes. They were able to use money from a PAEF grant awarded last year for student reading materials to purchase copies of the novel to use in class. The teachers created new lesson plans that use this novel as the basis. When I saw students reading the novel while walking in the hallways because it was too good to put down, I read it myself and realized why the students found it so engaging. I’m grateful to our English teachers for seeking out new means for teaching English, and for the PAEF for providing the funds to incorporate their ideas.

A few times a year, our art students gather in the PAISD boardroom and use the videoconference equipment to take a virtual field trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art. These virtual field trips, funded by PAEF, allow students to have an art docent show them the artwork and describe its significance to our students all the way here in Port Aransas. Students have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the artwork as well. And speaking of art, the PAEF funded a grant to purchase a secure display case. It is filled with student artwork and can be viewed by our students, staff, and visitors.

Because of the recently awarded PAEF grants, we have a glimpse into what next year’s students will be doing in their classes. The theater students will be trained and be using a new portable lighting and intercom package that will enhance their performances in the community and give students a chance to learn how to run the latest system. The anatomy/physiology and biology students will have many new quality models to enhance their lessons. The physics students will have modern drafting technology and computer graphics software to take their learning from theoretical to practical. The digital interactive media students will be using a quadcopter with a camera to record aerial footage and create videos for different real-life applications. Several teachers will be participating in training and conferences where they will learn new strategies and techniques to incorporate into their lessons to expand and enrich student learning.

I appreciate the continued enthusiastic support of this Port Aransas village community to provide the best educational opportunities for our students. You are all invited to celebrate with us at our graduation ceremony on Friday, May 30 beginning at 7 p.m. in the PAHS gym.

Sharon McKinney is the principal at PAHS.

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