On Friday, April 5, Sophia Academy held the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the school’s brand new Outdoor Classroom. The Outdoor Classroom contains a garden and fence built by Eagle Scout candidate Kevin Quigley, who worked tirelessly to bring this vision to life for the students of Sophia Academy. The students will be able to use the garden as part of their learning environment, applying academic skills in a tangible way, and will also be able to enjoy the area as a lovely place for outdoor reading and study.
The International Fiber Collaborative in conjunction with the U.S. Space and Rocket Center launched The Dream Rocket Project in 2009, a collection of approximately 8,000 art pieces made of fabric and textiles form the US and various regions of the world. In 2014, artwork will be joined with the other pieces to wrap around a 365-foot Saturn V Moon Rocket replica at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The designated theme of the panels, “Dare to Dream,” challenges individuals to expand beyond the present state of the world and imagine the future. Perhaps most importantly, individuals are challenged to imagine their contribution to that future. These individual dreams and aspirations will combine to create a monumental 32,000 square feet work of art.
Prior to the wrapping of the Saturn V all submissions are being displayed in venues such as libraries, school and museums. Sophia Academy’s art submissions will be on exhibit at the National Art Educators Association Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, March 7-10, 2013. After this exhibition our student work will join in the wrapping of the Saturn V Moon Rocket replica. Mrs. Tracey Buot, Fine Arts Director of Sophia Academy states that all of the participants were so enthusiastic about participating in this national art initiative. “It was exciting to see my students embrace the spirit of this project and to know that many people will be able to view their artwork.”
Have you ever wondered about that term “multisensory education”? Here’s your chance to learn more, courtesy of 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Felice Atkinson:
Research shows that varying teaching strategies to address sensory preferences increases student learning, engages and sustains student attention, as well as addresses and reinforces modal preferences while strengthening weaker sensory areas (Thomas et al 2000; Silver, 2000; Haggart, 2003).
Both parents and teachers are well aware that students learn differently and that students’ learning preferences are as varied as the students themselves. Some students learn best by movement while others like to read a book in a quiet room. Multisensory teaching techniques encourage all students to learn by incorporating all of the senses (seeing, hearing, touching, and moving) with all of the learning styles (visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic), (www.plsweb.com, 2007).
Teachers at Sophia Academy are skilled at providing students the National Core Curriculum Standards with a multisensory approach. Lessons are comprised with a student’s visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic needs in mind. Parents can also provide this multi-modal approach at home. A general overview of learning styles and activities is listed below.
Visual: Learning by seeing. This child needs to ‘see it to believe it.’ Maps, graphs, charts and pictures all help this student memorize information. Place spelling words or math facts on their bedroom ceiling. When the lights are off, the child can spell the word, and then check for accuracy by locating the words or facts with a flashlight.
Auditory: Learning by speaking and listening. This student enjoys discussions and then needs to say it to learn it. Allow your student to read important information into a recording device and then play it back. They will get a kick from hearing themselves speak.
Tactile: Learning by feeling. These pupils learn best by using small muscle movement and touch. Have your student learn reading words or other important information by writing them on a cookie sheet filled with table salt.
Kinesthetic: Learning by doing. This person is actively involved in learning and loves to flex large muscles. Have your child state important concepts while walking, running in place, or jumping. Your child will get in shape and learn at the same time.
Information from Performance Learning Systems (http://www.plsweb.comNewsletter/Dec.2007)
The middle school students of Sophia Academy embarked on an overnight spiritual retreat from November 29-30, 2012. The retreat took place at Covecrest, a Catholic youth camp in the north Georgia mountains. Students took part in low ropes courses to build team work and high ropes courses to conquer fears and build confidence. Devotionals led by Director of Religious Education Mrs. Julie Noggle and Religious Education teacher Mrs. Emily Harrington focused on a scripture passage that called the students to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. It was a life-changing event for some participants, as their parents remarked “she is like a new person” and “we clearly saw God’s work come to life before her eyes.” A hands-on experience that calls for collaboration and strategy is right in line with the school’s mission to educate students in a multisensory environment. The spiritual component stems from the school’s religious founding and current position of seeking Catholic status.
A report on education in Atlanta from Advancement Director, Mrs. Cathi Athaide:
Westminster Schools hosted a panel of educators Nov. 1st, “A Bolder Approach to Transforming Atlanta Education.” Pedro Noguera, Ph.D., expert on school reform and NYU professor, led with the main question “How do we get students excited about learning?” As a response to the 52% graduation rate in Atlanta, he said that instead of focusing on how we hold teachers accountable, we should be asking “how do we hold everyone accountable—the President, governors, superintendents, students and parents? As the new economy favors new skills, it is also imperative to start this training early.
Much of the focus was on children in poverty, as the lowest achievement surrounds this issue. Dr. Noguera emphasized that poverty is not a learning disability, as he pointed to himself and six siblings who all graduated from high school despite a low-income family. Dr. Noguera said we must learn from schools that are succeeding in educating diverse learners. These schools have:
- Control of learning
- All teachers who master literacy concepts
- Kids who feel like school is their family—students and teachers
- Incorporated mastering material, not just passing it. “Real” learning is in revision, not submission.
- Tests used as tools not weapons.
In addition and critically, students need to learn what Paul Tough writes in “How Children Succeed” –perseverance, grit, and self-regulation.
From the problem of lack of funding, he said, “we spend a lot of money on failures.” He says the problem is our inability to create the right conditions to meet student needs.
One point he made is that our schools were never designed to teach everyone – and now we have to do so. Mr. Neil Shorthouse, Founding Director of Communities in Schools, pointed out that we have 85 resource officers in Atlanta schools. We know how to use personnel for violence prevention, but we need more relationship people. This connectivity is vital to keep students engaged.
The panel gave their advice to teachers: the power of relationships is critical in helping students succeed, and there is such a need to model teaching to new teachers.
Dr. Noguera ended with the question which will direct policy and solutions: “Do we love our children enough?”
On Friday, October 26, Sophia Academy middle schoolers Turner Bynum, Gage Roberts, Nathan Tobias, and Liam Flynn took the stage in the one act play “Why Do Heroes Have Big Feet?” With direction from Fine Arts Director Mrs. Tracey Buot and assistance from Music Teacher Ms. Audriana Farris, the script written by Kathryn Schultz Miller showcased a variety of tall tales including Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, and Little Orphan Annie. With its creative props and costumes, the play provided several laughs to the audience. The team of thespians took third place and the rating of “excellent” at the Central Regional One Act Competition on Saturday, October 20, with students medaling in “Outstanding Performance” and “All Star Cast” as well as receiving “Best Costumes, Outstanding Use of Props, and Best Spirit of a Cast.” Mrs. Buot elaborated on the team’s win, reminding that “We compete against large public schools at these one act competitions which in my opinion makes our awards even sweeter to see our students go head to head against large casts.” Congratulations One Act participants!
The students of Sophia Academy celebrated Grandparents Day on Friday, October 19, in conjunction with a school-wide presentation titled “Sophia Summit.” For two weeks, the school participated in a cross-curricular, cross-grade level focus on the subject of Social Studies. Grandparents and special friends attended the culminating event of the study—“Sophia Summit.” It was an event complete with skits, songs, debates, and creative movies ranging from a Revolutionary War wax museum to an Inuit Weather Report to a re-enactment of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. The event coincided perfectly with Grandparents Day, delighting grandparents and special friends as well as the students, who were eager to show off their hard work and new knowledge. In addition to the presentation, grandparents and special friends took in a catered lunch from Atlanta Bread Company and heard from Founding Director and Principal, Mrs. Marie Corrigan.