To our Students: the Leaders of Today & Tomorrow.

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Editor’s Note: Kristina Pham, one of our talented special education teachers, started an after-school Leadership Academy this year for some of her fourth and fifth grade students at Los Sueńos. Now, she is a top ten finalist for the Symantec Innovation in Teaching Awards. We asked Kristina to share a little about why she started the Academy and — most importantly — how its impacted her students.

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Blasting Energy into Your Classroom for the Final Stretch

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by Maheen Sahoo
Third Grade Teacher

A couple of weeks ago, I walked into my classroom and greeted my class as usual. One of my students looked up at me and immediately said, “Wow, Ms. Sahoo… you look tired!!” Now, hearing that you look tired from someone you know is bad enough, but hearing it from an 8-year-old is a little more humbling. My students don’t hold back with their commentary (for example, my outfit probably wasn’t cool enough for third grade if I didn’t get a compliment on it that day) so I knew exhaustion was written all over my face.

If you aren’t having fun, neither are they. My student was correct in pointing out that I did not seem like my usual, energetic self that day. The months leading up to the end of the year are tough, and the long weeks were getting to me at that point. There were a few things I started doing, however, that really changed my trajectory and helped keep energy up in the classroom. Continue reading

Sculpting Rocketship Art

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by Kevin Bronk
Editor, Beyond

It’s just after recess on a Tuesday afternoon as first graders in Ms. Adam’s class swing their feet under their desks awaiting the arrival of Ms. Solomon, Alma Academy’s art teacher.

A first grader from Alma shows off his kente pattern, still a work in progress.

A first grader from Alma shows off his kente pattern, still a work in progress.

Vincent, a tiny Rocketeer with a big smile, nods his head excitedly as he tells me he’s really good at art.

Soon a large cart stuffed with colorful paper, an array of fabrics, and boxes of markers and crayons rolls through the door. Solomon appears in a bright orange sweater and a black, San Jose State graduation stole with kente patterns. She seamlessly transitions kids into their first project of the day, creating a kente cloth square with symmetrical lines and patterns of their choice. Holding her stole high in the air, Solomon points out the patterns as an exemplar.

“I think art and all the enrichment play a huge role,” she explained to me before class. “It’s great to strengthen the creative sides of the brain. And I try to shout out how there’s lots of opportunities for artists in college.”

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