The students at Dilworth STEM Academy have some serious school spirit. I witnessed this first-hand during my recent middle school visit there where I participated in the monthly PBIS assembly. After the students received awards for academic and attendance achievements, I played a game in front of all of the seventh and eighth grade students. I was paired with a Leadership student, Peter, who served as my student ambassador for this visit. Luckily Peter and I know, and can sing, the lyrics to a wide variety of songs which kept us competitive in this game! I loved the excitement and energy and had a great time with the students. The gym was really booming!
After this great assembly, Peter and I went to his advisory class which was taught by Wendy Vesser. After assemblies, the entire school participates in the same SEL lesson. For this lesson, we were tasked with doing a project involving reading, writing, discussion, and designing a poster on four life lessons that were presented to us. The life lessons were: belonging, guilt, perfection, and vulnerability. I was in a group with three students: Peter, Koby, and Marie. Our project was based on our ideas about perfection. We had a lot of great dialog about why it is really important to be yourself and not base everything on other people’s standards. We also talked about how nobody is perfect. Part of our discussion was about when perfection can be a good thing. Our example was how it is critical for an airline pilot to be perfect when he was working and going through his checklist. Our poster theme was Be the BEST You #BTBU and I saw several posters in other classrooms that had the same message.
Speaking of posters, the entire school, including the bathrooms, were filled with motivating posters. This project was spearheaded by the AVID students based on an SEL lesson last semester. There were so many beautiful posters and they all had really amazing, uplifting messages. What a great way to carry the message and lesson forward and get the most out of it. Kudos to the AVID students at Dilworth.
After advisory class, I was impressed by the information shared with me by Principal Laura Petersen and her incredible staff. The team consisted of the assistant principal, dean, instructional coach, counselors, and PIF. This team is all on the same page and working together to achieve great results at Dilworth STEM Academy. I learned about the partnership they have with UNR that supports internships and practicums for future teachers, data driven decisions, PBL, STEM curriculum, AVID and it’s alignment with both the feeder elementary and high schools, Leadership, PBIS, integration of sixth grade students into their school community, the early childhood program dubbed “Little Knights,” extracurricular activities and athletics, and family engagement activities. Each and every one of these areas support the goals and objectives for Dilworth students and staff.
I visited a few classrooms and enjoyed watching the work that was being done. Renee Lust’s seventh grade science students were using their research on resources such as minerals and fossil fuel to create quiz questions. The class discussion helped to ensure that the quiz questions related to their research claims and could be supported. This information will be used in presentations they are working on. I was impressed to hear the students talking about their work specifically as it related to the educational standards.
The next classroom I visited was with the “littles” in Gloria Rodarte’s early childhood classroom. These little learners were having free play time. I joined groups that were working with building blocks, alphabet puzzles, drawing and coloring, and dress-up. I was having so much fun with the kids, it was hard to leave.
I had the most amazing group of eighth grade students join me for lunch. I think it was the largest group I’ve ever hosted. They were so excited to be a part of the special luncheon and they were incredibly attentive and engaged. We talked about what they need to do to be able to graduate from high school and how important this is for them. We also spent some time talking about their options following high school. The students were not shy about asking questions and touched on many great topics.
I enjoyed experiencing and learning about the Dilworth STEM Academy and its community. Being able to experience the great synergy at the school was amazing. This was a great learning opportunity for me and I appreciated the information staff shared with me and the interaction with the phenomenal students at Dilworth.