Schools and Tools For
by Hayley B., Friendswood Junior High student
During our trip to the George R. Brown Convention Center for the NMSA
conference, I encountered some unique children. I was walking around
watching the numerous attendees flock from one area to the next in a
small group. My phone started to chime, though it took me a few minutes
to realize it. It was my supervisor and current language teacher, Mrs.
Wilkes, and that was definitely a good thing since I had absolutely no
lead on what to do at that point. She beckoned me over to a group of
children from a private school called the Monarch School. She then told
me that these students have neurological differences.
I followed her to
the people that were dressed in dark jade polo shirts with the school
crest embroidered on to it. Mrs. Wilkes pulled a boy who was at or
close to my age named Michael Zimmerer. He was very polite and willing
to share what he knew, though it seemed he had a hard time remembering.
I learned that their daily routines consist of the normal classes such
as, mathematics, science, and language arts. But the interesting part
is that they have a class called Executive Functioning. In this class
they set goals in various areas like, of course, academics, but also
in their relationships with others. My personal favorite thing was hearing
about their "jug
band," a program where the students
create instruments from junk-like cans and such. This was quite similar
to a competition I had taken part of for the last three years.
named J.J. Smith, who seemed a few years older than me, confirmed
all the above and that the kids also write for the Web site on a special
committee. He said that at this school the teachers teach the kids
and the kids teach the teachers by sharing ideas. Seeing these kids
only confirmed the fact that this convention reaches out to all sorts
of schools no matter what the background is or the level of technology
An example of a technology that can really change the way the
average classroom is run is the Digitarium Planetarium System. This
remarkable device has over 100 deep space stars, nebulas, and of course,
the planets and their satellites. The software also includes artwork
of famous constellations, which make telling their stories easier
to tell. You can also start from any point on the earth giving
equally accurate projections of both hemispheres.
Before I move on, the
very best aspect of the system to me was the detailed star map, but
to most it would be the fact that you walk into it, which would make
it a kid magnet.
Schools don't only focus on academics, though the
items were mostly books, which is why they showcased products
other than educational equipment. At the back of the hall was the ultimate
gym toy. The almighty rock wall stood before me. In my mind, angels sang
out with holy grace. My initial thought was that it was there purely
for fun. But no, they actually sold these to schools. If we had one of
these, every kid would never want to leave the gym. Ever.