Friday, May 25, 2012

The Key to Making Every Child’s Dreams Come True – Found at SAR Academy

~Guest post by Sharon Marson
Schoolwide Enrichment Program Coordinator, SAR Academy, Riverdale, New York

A teary-eyed parent says, "Now my child feels really successful. Thank you for what you are doing.” Another shared that Tuesday (the day our new program is scheduled) is “a day my child refuses to be absent. I'm not allowed to pull him out of school for a doctor's appointment and he has even tried pretending he is well when clearly he has fever, in order to not miss an E-slot." The children themselves ask, "How many days until next Tuesday?" and stop me in school regularly to thank me for "making" this program.  
What has brought such joy and excitement to parents and children? The Schoolwide Enrichment program. This has enabled me to bring to fruition the dream of providing every early elementary child with the opportunity to participate in an Enrichment slot (E-slot) during the course of their week. It has been an incredibly fulfilling journey. No longer are only a select few of those who are high performing in reading or math given the opportunity to participate in Enrichment. Now, more than 450 children are able to choose among seventy offerings that are aligned with their passions, strengths, and/or interests. The offerings, primarily facilitated by a talented faculty and parent-body, correspond with multiple-intelligence theory, engage children in project-based learning, and are built on the pedagogy of Dr. Joseph Renzulli, seminal thinker, innovator, and researcher in the field of Gifted Education.  
The program is based on the idea that we should apply the pedagogy of gifted education to enrichment opportunities for all students. The broadened conception of giftedness, allows children to explore an area of interest, talent, or passion in depth, while in a small multi-age group with other students and a facilitator who also shares this interest. Enrichment Clusters are a delivery vehicle for disseminating enrichment pedagogy to every student and is founded on the belief that everyone has the potential to demonstrate gifted behavior. They are organized around interdisciplinary themes and are built on inquiry and advanced content and methodology, which allow students to secure and then apply new skills to real-world issues that are personally meaningful. The challenging learning pursued is grounded in the production of a product, performance, or service for an authentic audience. Our ultimate goal with this broad enrichment initiative is to help children discover and take pride in the diverse gifts and talents with which he or she is endowed, develop their interests and strengths, and understand how they can share their gifts with the world.

What is success? 
Just ask the kids and you’ll find there isn't a child who can't tell you when he or she feels successful or which activity engenders a sense of accomplishment. That is what our program is doing for children. We are giving students the equal-opportunity to succeed. They are happy. They are defining themselves as gifted in multitudinous ways. They feel accomplished. That is why they can't miss a moment of it.
See what this looks like in action at the video below. You can help the school raise money to grow their endeavor to create life-long, impassioned learners with a vote for the video at this link.

Want to connect with others who are discussing the Schoolwide Enrichment Model?  Join us on Facebook here.

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