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From left, Daniel Gagner, David Clark, Levi Merrell and Caleb Hooper work on their robot during engineering enrichment at LaCreole Middle School Thursday afternoon.
October 29, 2013
DALLAS -- Take a walk through LaCreole Middle School from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. and you will see a school brimming with activity and excitement.
That is the designated time for interventions and enrichments, and it seems to be the time students look forward to most.
That's just fine with Principal Jamie Richardson and his staff.
Since the introduction of all-school enrichments -- a reward for students caught up in class -- teachers have seen more assignments turned in on time and fewer students needing extra help.
LaCreole staff came up with the idea of enrichment programs after the district cut electives and noticed students struggling with motivation as a result.
At the end of last school year, LaCreole enlisted teachers and volunteers to lead enrichment groups on subjects such as dance, cooking, PE activities, chess and drama for those students who were on track. A two-week pilot project with sixth-graders proved to be a success that has stretched into this year when the program expanded schoolwide.
LaCreole began session two enrichments last week with 18 different subjects, ranging from band to the computer game Minecraft, beginning Spanish to arts and crafts.
Nathan Harding, left, and Nick Ainsworth, both seventh-graders, build a robot Thursday during LaCreole's enrichments offered to students caught up in their classes.
"It's all abuzz, as you as see," Richardson said while walking the halls Thursday afternoon. "I can't find a room to do anything else."
Ken Guffey's classroom -- home of engineering enrichments -- is so packed that one group had to work on its project in the hallway.
David Clark, Levi Merrell, Daniel Gagner and Caleb Hooper are testing out the robot they are building for a middle school robotics competition this winter.
"We've got a lot of of work to do," Caleb laments, noting they had only just finished the base of the robot. "We haven't even started, really."
David said enrichments are a good incentive for students to get all their assignments turned in.
"Especially for us," he said. "We have to continue to work on this."
Richardson said another positive by-product of the program is teachers have smaller groups to work with during interventions. Previously, each classroom was full during the period, with some students having nothing to do.
"I have four kids in my class right now," said sixth-grade math and science teacher Tiffany Walter. "Being able to help them at that level -- at one of me to four of them -- it's just so much more effective."
Walter has found that her students are more likely to turn in assignments on time and plan ahead if they know they can participate in enrichment activities.
"The kids who are out doing enrichments, they love it," Walter said. "With not having electives in our school right now, it gives them an opportunity to do that extra thing that we know is really good for kids."
Richardson said an additional bonus is being able to invite community members to share their knowledge and expertise with students. Some have even become mentors to the students.
"It's been really cool having these folks come into our building and take part," Richardson said. "I think it's been good for the kids and good for them, too."
You Can Help
* If you have a talent or expertise you would be willing to teach LaCreole Middle School students, contact Jamie Richardson at 503-623-6662. All school volunteers must pass a background check.