The Hospitality industry uses “heads in beds” as a guide. Carroll County Public Schools has its own unofficial way to guage Intercession enthusiasm. It’s the empty seats in front of the school nurse’s office and the principal’s office. Spring Intercession marks the second outing recently by the District to offer classes beyond the norm of a typical school day.
“It has been awesome. The last two days have been great. The teachers have really gotten behind this and it has went really smooth. The teachers are enjoying it, kids are enjoying it. We have kids everywhere. Field trips galore with a group going to the fish hatchery. We have others going to the library and the Sheriff’s Office. A group going to the cinema and one going to the Shot Tower,” said Hillsville Elementary School Intercession Coordinator Sharon McCombs. “It seems like everything is focused on other areas. Making school fun again. This entices me to get the kids back behind what they are here for. Hands-on learning. Being engaged. Critical-thinking skills are being built. Working together as a team.”
Admittedly one part of Intercession is to try out innovative teaching methods so Carroll can find out what works best before it is mandated by the State. Educators informally agree change is a question of when and not if education moves from an industrial model to one for the information age.
“We have people coming here from outside the community and we had different community helpers come in. It’s wonderful to have the community involved. Community members were called and reached out too, and they are coming in and engaging the kids,” said McCombs, noting peer communication is important. “It is just the kids being able to interact with different kids. It’s not the same ones in the same room. Second graders are interacting with third graders. Kindergarten are interacting with fourth and fifth. Different grade levels are seeing what other grade levels are doing. Working together. Especially with our (computer) programming group. Different student mindsets there. We’ve never done that before but here they are working together trying to program a robot and it is working.”
She said not only are kids going to different locations, teachers are going to different locations, teaching something different to different students they don’t see on a regular basis. They’re getting to know those kids and the kids are getting to see and know more teachers than just in their homeroom.
CCMS Teacher Cory Bowman, who taught classes on floral arrangement during Intercession, said this helped her get across the message agriculture is not only about growing plants.
“We are donating our first batch of arrangements to the Hillsville Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center. Tomorrow, using the same concepts, the same procedures and steps they get to choose if they want to make a bear, a pig, a cat or several different lady bugs which they get to take home. They will have a place for little notes so they can spread joy through flowers, which is our concept here,” said Bowman. “I’m an Ag teacher, so floral design really works out for us. It’s part of Ag and that’s the cool thing about it. Both of the Intercession things I’ve done are directly related back to the Ag program but this is one thing we don’t really have a chance to focus on the cool design concept. We talk about how plants grow, photosynthesis and that sort of thing, but for them to actually arrange. We have two great local florists within walking distance. This is a career that students could have when they come out of school. Ideal Florist has been great helping us come up with the ideas for arrangements and ordering. This is new to me but it’s been really fun.”
She said students, once they got their hands on the project, were okay with it and surprised how hard it can be. They each tried their own artistic style. Sixth, seventh and eighth graders were in the class together.
“Attendance has been good. Usually you would see all the chairs full (in the front office). There would be kids waiting to see a principal, too. They are all empty today. They are so engaged and enthralled and loving what they are doing, I don’t think they want to miss it. We’ve very excited to be able to offer this,” said Carroll Middle Intercession Coordinator, School Counselor and Director of Student Services Lindsey Edmonds.
She says she feels this Spring’s Intercession for the Middle School has more offerings. This time many (including teachers and students) were on a field trip to Washington, D.C. This was about 150 out of the school’s 830 students.
“I do think in the Fall after Intercession I saw that continue with the teachers. I think they noticed the engagement and were taking some of those things and trying to incorporate them. Trying to keep the spark going. Of course, winter comes and everyone gets a little crazy. I did see a difference after Intercession with teachers and how they were engaging the students,” Edmonds said.
Intercession is also a workshop of sorts with teachers given the green light to see what can be done differently. Edmonds said teachers are incorporating what they learn into regular class.
“Things I was getting taught in High School they’re getting taught in first and second grade now. It’s crazy. We’ve got to get them ready for jobs that don’t even exist yet. I’ve been doing this with my guidance lessons. Teaching them about different careers. You don’t have to be a teacher, a lawyer. You can dream to be an auto mechanic. You can dream to be whatever you’re best at,” McCombs said. “You don’t have to go to college to make a good living. They want to go to work doing something they love. Who wants to go to work doing something you don’t love? I mean, it’s going to be a pretty bad life. A sad life. You want to love your job.”
She said the previous path for students, to graduate and go straight to college, is being challenged. She tells students they can go out into the world, work some and decide.
”You don’t know when you’re 18 what you want to do long term. I didn’t. I tell them you may have your mind set on one thing and that may be what you want to do. You may decide to do it for 15 years but then you may think I want to do something different. That’s okay. You don’t have to have it set in stone what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. Enjoy what you’re doing at that moment and when you don’t, change it up,” said McCombs.
David Broyles may be reached at 276779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.