A group of fourth-graders was busy balancing algebraic equations for their teacher Michelle Lynch on Tuesday morning in their newly painted classroom. Many students may not find math all that interesting, but these children were fully engaged and focused on the task in front of them.
Lynch was using a two-armed scale on one side of the classroom to demonstrate the concepts of adding and subtracting from both sides of an equal sign to balance two equations. The students used balancing charts along with red, numbered blocks and blue pawns to follow along at their tables and solve the problems.
Later in the day, they would design experiments to test the properties of paper towels in science class.
These children and other Glasgow students in grades three through seven are settling into their new science and math classrooms at Happy Valley Learning Center where the district’s CELTIC (Creating Enriched Learning Through Innovative Curriculum) Academy opened lasted week at the beginning of the new semester.
Gifted and talented students, ones with an interest in science and/or math, and those who received high test scores in math and science were given the opportunity to attend the academy for the first time during the fall semester.
The academy opened its doors in temporary facilities at South Green Elementary in mid-October while the classrooms at Happy Valley were being updated and refitted with new ceiling and floor tiles, paint and other upgrades and made ready for the children at the beginning of the new year.
The district spent about $40,000 in improvements at Happy Valley to accommodate the new academy, according to Glasgow Superintendent Sean Howard.
Students from Highland and South Green elementaries and Glasgow Middle School attend one grade level per day per week.
Third-graders from the two primary schools go to the academy on Mondays, fourth-graders on Tuesday and fifth-graders on Wednesday. Sixth- and seventh-grade middle school students attend classes on Thursday and Friday respectively.
“They love it. They feel like they have there own place now,” Lynch said about how the students are adjusting to the academy’s new location. “They’re enjoying it. This is their own little wing.”
Buses transport the children to the academy from their schools at 9 a.m. and pick them up to take them back at 1 p.m. The students eat lunch at the academy, which is prepared at Highland Elementary and delivered each day.
The children normally split into two groups and Lynch teaches half the children a math lesson while Julie Bunnell teaches them science. Halfway through the day, the two classes switch.
The two teachers said they planned much of the curriculum for their classes based on the core content from the students’ regular classrooms and then enriched the programs with additional materials and hands-on applications for the children.
There are about 140 students enrolled in the academy currently, but both Lynch and Bunnell think that number will increase. Right now, middle school students make up the largest percentage of the group.
Academy students have already participated in many activities this year they might not have had the chance to know otherwise, according to Lynch and Bunnell.
They had bug races and compared size ratios between themselves and insects and worked to find out which could run faster, children or bugs.
Seventh-graders studied genetics while the fifth- and sixth-graders have been concentrating on space by participating in NASA’s GRAIL Mission to the Moon satellite program.
They also took a field trip to the Challenger Learning Center in Louisville and from March to May they will be working with the Sally Ride Science Institute, according to Bunnell.
“Each grade level will have a field trip,” she said.
The two teachers performed an outreach program at the beginning of the school year and plan to do another at the end of classes.
“Every student, not just gifted and talented but every student in grades three through six were serviced through our outreach at the beginning of the year,” Lynch said. “We actually packed up the lessons and went to the schools and presented them to the entire class. That way we hit every student.”
The teachers’ goal for May is to have every second-grader in the district attend a class to increase their interest in attending the academy when they become third-graders.
Lynch taught at Highland and Bunnell at South Green last year before becoming teachers for the CELTIC Academy in the fall. This gives them an advantage they said by knowing both the children coming to their classes for enriched instruction and their families as well.
They are still awaiting the delivery of more technology such as SMART Boards for their classrooms, but the two educators said they and their students are happy with the academy’s move to Happy Valley.