JACKSON – Local educators developed a means to work with their students and harness their energy as part of childhood development.
School District officials and educators at the Switlik Elementary School recently came together to celebrate the school’s receipt of a $10,000 grant from the OceanFirst Foundation’s Model Classroom grant program.
“Through my years of teaching, I have learned that kids need different ways of learning,’’ Switlik teacher Monique Placek said. “I realized that this is just an ideal space for them.’’
Placek joined representatives from OceanFirst and district staff in cutting the ribbon on the Model Classroom. Placek was thrilled to be able to show her students utilizing various stations including a balance platform, stationary bike, bistro table setup with Chromebooks, and various seating stations – all designed to allow students to learn in ways that suit them best.
The elementary school’s model classroom is an innovative, personalized learning platform where traditional resources, highly adaptive assistive technologies, and multisensory materials complement personalized instruction to general and special education students, district officials stated.
According to the grant, this student-led classroom will expose learners to centers where research, goal setting, community service, and student celebration are the skill set needed to be successful.
The grant specifically provides for the purchase of Chromebooks, tablets and other technology, Osmo Classroom kits (learning games), a collaboration table and furniture, community service project supplies, and a leveled text set library.
Former teacher Danielle Parella sought the grant with support from Switlik Principal Kathy McKiernan and Assistant Principal Renee Pagano-Hein.
“I am so thrilled to be part of this classroom and so grateful to Ocean First for recognizing what our school wanted to do,’’ Parella said.
Mrs. Placek said she is enjoying how well her students are learning in this environment.
“This grant has allowed us to create a space where we can offer students what they need to learn in a way that suits them,” Placek said.
Switlik is one of several district schools who have earned Model Classroom grants in recent years, including another 2018 recipient – the Johnson Elementary School, which created a special classroom and program featuring a therapy dog named Mighty.
“We are honored to show our appreciation to the OceanFirst Foundation, which has a history of supporting creative and inventive approaches to education,” Board of Education President John Burnetsky said.
The board recognized Switlik and Johnson Elementary School for earning the 2018 grants. “We are also very proud of our staff, whose initiative and creativity are truly remarkable. Your extra efforts are more important than ever, and are a huge part of allowing this district to stay at the forefront of innovation and excellence,” Burnetsky said.