At left: Ms. Lorie Heald works with fifth grade students to warm up before rehearsal for their promotion ceremony performance. Above: Mrs. Sandra Kraus works with the fifth graders to make tortillas. In body: Mr. Stephen Krohn teaches Tinkercad to the fifth grade.
Tortillas, Tinkercad and Theater!
With the 5th grade school year rapidly coming to a close, I’ve found myself thinking about all the many ways my esteemed colleagues support our 5th grade students throughout the year. It is not uncommon to walk into a 5th grade classroom and find our students deeply engaged and filled with wonder, while learning from the expertise and knowledge of a Gregory School teacher who doesn’t actually teach 5th grade.
Let's talk tortillas!
Everyone knows our resident expert on making tortillas is Mrs. Kraus, who also happens to be our Wellness Coordinator. A few weeks ago, I shared with Mrs. Sandra Kraus that our students were reading The Circuit, a story about a migrant farm family, living in the central valley of California during the 1940’s. As with any book we read, I want our students to experience some of what the main characters experience. The Circuit is rich with stories of Mexican culture and tradition, one being the making of tortillas.
In my family, my mom is legendary for making the best tortillas. I did not inherit this talent, unless you like your tortillas extra crunchy and shaped like the state of Wisconsin. So, I asked Mrs. Kraus if she could teach our students to make tortillas. Without hesitating, Mrs. Kraus showed up with her rolling pins, planchas and even brought her Alexa to so we could listen to corridos. She shared personal stories about her Mexican culture and the custom of making tortillas. She was patient, funny and kind. She took time to step in and contribute to the learning, so that our students could have a richer experience. Muchas gracias, Señora Kraus.
Not me. I don’t know the first thing about this 3-D modeling program. But Mr. Stephen Krohn, our Digital Arts teacher, does! Earlier in the year, Mr. Krohn taught our students how to use Google Draw to make their origin story puppets. Mr. Krohn is no stranger to the 5th grade. No matter how busy he is teaching all levels of digital design, animation, and painting to students in 7th - 12th grades, he makes time to spread his passion for digital art.
The 5th graders recently wrote History Mysteries in the genre of expository writing. They wanted to make monuments in the Fab Lab to represent their stories. I had no idea how to go about doing this. Enter Mr. Krohn. He didn’t hesitate when I asked him if he had any creative ideas on how to go about making these monuments. He suggested using Tinkercad! I agreed, but explained that he’d have to teach our students how to use the program.
Mr. Krohn ended up spending far more time than I’m sure he planned to give to this project. However, he did it with a generous heart, an enthusiasm that was contagious to our students and a dedication to sharing his passion for digital art. Mr. Krohn, you are a masterpiece in our gallery of teachers.
The end of the 5th grade year is celebrated with a promotion ceremony. Certificates are made, speeches are written and then we are faced with the challenge of what our students will do for their performance during the ceremony. I’d like to believe I have a little bit of a Broadway performer in me, but if I’m being honest, I don’t. But Drama and Theater Production teacher, Ms. Lorie Heald does! It occurred to me that Ms. Heald once directed a magical performance for one of our 5th grade ceremonies. We enlisted her help.
As is typical of Ms. Heald, she is always willing to help our school community. She agreed to direct the promotion performance. Taking this task on meant that Ms. Heald would add to her already full, end of the year plate, by preparing costumes and props, opening up her schedule for performance practices and lending her special brand of teaching theater to our students. It’s been amazing to watch her encourage the 5th graders as they learn how to mime and use their props effectively. Ms. Heald, you are our very own star!
I feel so fortunate to work with colleagues who are more than willing to share their time and talents with our 5th graders. In just the past six weeks, three of my colleagues have stepped into our classroom to lend their stories and knowledge to the 5th grade students. Being able to tap into the wisdom, enthusiasm and expertise of these incredibly talented colleagues is one of my greatest joys in being a teacher at The Gregory School. I am in awe of Mrs. Kraus, Ms. Heald and Mr. Krohn along with so many more TGS teachers who over the years have inspired our 5th graders to take risks in learning, make mistakes so you can learn from them, and appreciate the skills and abilities of those around you.
"I treasure the opportunity to teach fifth grade, our youngest group of students, in a creative and exhilarating environment. The Gregory School provides a unique arena where divergent ideas are encouraged and learning is personalized to each student's talents, passions and interests. It is within this arena that our students provide the spark that ignites my enthusiasm and joy for teaching."