On Friday, February 11, The Wilson School held its first annual STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) Night - The Art of Science.
The Wilson School families participated in science and art activities, including Wilson’s first ever Time Capsule. Students came with a Time Capsule worksheet, which included a profile and a record of life in 2017. The Time Capsule will be opened in eight years, when current pre-kindergarten students will be in sixth grade.
Senior Kindergarten hosted favorite science experiments including alka rockets, moon base building, telescope viewing and space helmet designs. Wilson parent Phil Skemer hosted an earthquake simulation, and other visitors included Bloxels Video Game Design and robotics hosted by the Webster Groves High School and DeSmet Jesuit High School teams.
Art projects included popsicle stick harmonicas and marble shake painting. Students created personal handprints to support this year’s Youth Uplift Challenge. With each handprint, the Youth Uplift Challenge will contribute $1.90 for the efforts. The funds support programming in Indonesia and Nicaragua.
This year’s visiting artist, Central Print demonstrated printmaking on a press, discussed letterpress and its history and facilitated a printmaking activity for Wilson families.
Science specialist Mr. Taylor hopes that The Art of Science event inspired students to become involved in science and to explore new ideas. He looks forward to Wilson students investigating new topics for this year’s science fair.
This year, The Wilson School celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Excellence Program, which supports professional development for faculty, the expansion of the library’s collection and innovative programming for students. The program began with Hal and Catherine Faught pledging $2 million to Wilson’s endowment. Their generosity marked the single largest gift to an academic program ever given in Missouri history to an elementary school. Since its inception, the program has made a significant impact on the lives of everyone in the Wilson community, from students and their families to the faculty.
Thanks to the Excellence Program, renowned and respected authors and artists visit The Wilson School each year to work with the students and engage the faculty, inspiring both with their stories and examples of excellence. Recent visiting artists include those from Central Print, Cbabi Bayoc, Michelle Katz-Reichlin, Maria Ojascastro and Marlon West. Authors Ridley Pearson, Jonathan Auxier, current Wilson parent Angela Liebermann and alumni parent June Herman, as well as her writing partner Julie Desloge Dubray have shared their work with Wilson students.
The Wilson School has enjoyed unique partnerships in the wider St. Louis community, made possible by The Excellence Program. Wilson families benefit from an exclusive writing partnership with Washington University, collaborations with the Saint Louis Zoo and speaker events that are open to the public. In the last few years, the program has helped to strengthen the social-emotional skills of students through curriculum on healthy relationships, self-esteem and managing emotional energy through breathing and creative movement.
The Excellence Program allows Wilson to foster exceptional educators by investing twice the resources in their development versus other area schools. Almost half of Excellence Program funding is allocated for ongoing professional development for faculty and staff, allowing every teacher to attend conferences and workshops to inspire new ideas. Wilson also selects an Excellence Award Honoree from among the faculty to recognize innovative and exceptional projects – an award funded by the Excellence Program. Most recently, Technology Coordinator received the award for her original coding curriculum and art teachers Diane Signor and Mary Beth Tipton were recognized for the visiting artist program.
The Wilson School library’s print collection can be refreshed and enhanced each year thanks to The Excellence Program. The best in children’s literature, whether a classic or the most current must-read, always can be found in the School’s library. The nonfiction collection is extensive and contains books with the most up-to-date information. In fact, this collection is one of the most current in the St. Louis region. Says librarian Ms. Poth, “The Excellence Program is the heart of the library program, enabling us to supply all nine grades and the professional staff with the necessary reading and instructional materials.” Because the library receives approximately 1,000 books annually, Wilson is able to make significant donations of books to other area elementary schools.
Sadly, Hal Faught passed away in 2009, but Catherine remained remains highly involved in the life of The Wilson School. After serving two terms on the Board of Trustees, she is now an Emeritus member. An integral member of the Board’s Excellence Committee, she continues to find ways to enrich and promote the program.
Currently, The Excellence Program is funded through a dollar-for-dollar matching grant. You can make a gift to The Excellence Program here to help Wilson’s students and staff live the Faughts’ mantra every day.
Level Up Village is keeping environmentalism and internationalism forefront in the third grade. Participating in the program for the first time this winter, Level up Village facilitates global science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) collaboration between students from around the world. Third grade students collaborated with a class in Nicaragua, sharing project files and exchanging video letters.
The students embarked on this global research project to find out more about water usage and conservation. Students learned about water, how it can be polluted, cleaned, tested, stored and understood at an atomic level. Third grade student Rafe explains, “We found out water drops form a dome because of surface tension. A lot of atoms of oxygen and hydrogen stick together to form the dome.” Focusing on helping the environment, the students brainstormed creative and interesting ways to lessen their usage and conserve.
While the Level Up science curriculum remains strong, the partnership with Nicaraguan students has proven to be a true highlight. Says third grade teacher Carolyn Cady “what our students are most excited about is getting to know the kids in our partner classroom and finding similarities that they share and recognizing differences.”
In learning about Nicaraguan culture, students were shocked to learn that some of their counterparts lack flushing toilets. This discovery allowed students to become more environmentally conscious and globally aware. Third grade teacher Mara Goldschmidt adds, “the experience has given more acceptance of differences of others that we promote here at Wilson.”
Video messages are most exciting to the students. Says Rafe, “we really enjoy sending videos back and forth with our partners in Nicaragua. The program translates them for us, but we get to hear the Spanish, too.” The partners get to know one another by asking questions and communicating about their daily lives. The experience prompted the students to learn rudimentary Spanish, making sure to pronounce their partners names correctly. Creating the videos also provide opportunities to practice communication and technology skills.
Says student Perla, “we love learning about the kids in Nicaragua. That’s what Level Up Village is all about!”
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