Passing on their passions
Summer Academy offers teachers chance to share interests
Elyzabeth Navarre was about half the age of her first-grade students when she first became fascinated with the story of the Titanic.
"It was just the whole mystery," the Starside Elementary teacher said. "So many people died. They didn't know where the Titanic was. I was 15 years old before they found it."
Navarre's fascination with the Titanic didn't end with the discovery and later exploration of the ocean liner on the north Atlantic seafloor. As a teacher, she always had a lesson on the Titanic on the anniversary of its sinking. When the De Soto district started the Summer Academy three years ago, she decided to expand that presentation into a four-day class.
She was able to give her students plenty of hands-on experiences, Navarre said. The students dress up in period costumes she supplies, stick their hands in buckets of ice water to understand the conditions the passengers experienced as the ship sank, and even make a mummy.
"There was a story the Titanic sunk because there was a cursed mummy in the hold," Navarre said. "There is so much information about the Titanic. We'll get on the Internet to find information."
The Summer Academy will run from June 3 through June 27, said Summer Academy director Paula Henderson. As in years past, two different kinds of classes will be offered in the academy, she said.
Continuation classes give select students an opportunity to take classes in reading, math and language arts, Henderson said. Students are expected to enroll in all four weeks offered.
"Three months is an awful long time," she said. "It offers a little extra help to help them retain what they learned during the school year."
Enrichment classes offer youngsters a chance to take fun courses. Henderson said every January for the past three years, she asked teachers to suggest classes for the academy.
"I never cease to be amazed at how creative our teachers are," she said. "The topics they come up with completely floors me each year."
On a few occasions, Henderson said she had second thoughts about some proposed classes.
"We had one about painting with legs," she said. "I thought, 'I'm not sure about this one.' It's been one of our most popular classes. Getting really, really messy seems to have a certain appeal."
Among the other classes offered at Starside are "Drum One, Drum All," "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" (a make-up primer), "Kidz in the Kitchen," and "Games from Around the World."
Enrichment classes are $30, Henderson said. Continuation classes are $100 for the four weeks. Interested parents can call Henderson at 583-8320.
Henderson said the Summer Academy was a win-win-win situation. Teachers get to earn extra money during the summer and the school district makes use of classrooms that would otherwise be vacant, she said.
Moreover, students get to take fun classes that expose them to their teacher's interest.
"I get to share my passion," Navarre said. "That's the fun part of it. One boy takes it every year even though it's the same information. For some, it ends up being their passion."