Last Tuesday was educational in the best sense of that word.
The first lesson I learned as “principal for a day” at Carolina Forest Elementary School? These aren’t your daddy’s classrooms.
Lesson two: Comfortable shoes are a must. Principal Dennis Devorick and assistant principals Simon Keay and Rick Patterson, are on their feet all day, moving in and out of classrooms, roaming halls and most importantly, interacting with students. And by interacting, I don’t mean sending them to time out for talking in class. I mean asking them specific questions about how they’re doing, whether they’ve recovered from the cold they had the week before, what they thought of a book they’d picked out in the library.
And the students, far from being cowed by these “persons of authority,” which is my overriding memory of school days, were delighted at the attention, high-fiving and fist bumping them as they walked — in line — to and from class to cafeteria, or library, or gym.
I was one of the more than 50 community leaders who started the day on Oct. 14 with the arrival of students in the morning, spending the day at the elbows of those who play a major role in the development of those who will lead our communities in the future.
Based on comments from fellow “principals” at a follow-up meeting the next day, it was clear that these were not events choreographed for the visitors. It was also clear that most, if not all, participants came away as impressed as I was.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Disney’s “It’s a Small World” ride, Carolina Forest Elementary has made Disney’s motto their own: “Dream it, Believe it, Achieve it.” The idea has definitely captured the attention of the students, from pre-K to 5th grade. When asked to recite the motto, students in every classroom (and I mean every single classroom) did so with enthusiasm. This was no rote assignment. Many also (and forgive me for giving you the earworm I’ve been trying to evict since last week) enthusiastically broke into the chorus of “It’s a Small World.”
Contrary to what some critics, including a few who submit letters to this editor, would have you believe, these youngsters are not spending their days confined to tiny desks and forced to go without recess. Instead, they are working in individual groups that move around the classrooms, tackling lesson components geared to each grade level that teach them how to research, question and present their findings.
I came away feeling better about those who will rule our world in the future, and not a little sorry that I wasn’t born late enough to enjoy what today’s education, with its creative applications of technology, is becoming.
Plus, “Dream it, Believe it, Achieve it” is a pretty good philosophy for those of us long past 5th grade to live by.
Let me know about your life’s philosophy, or other other matters on your mind. And as always, thanks for reading The Sun News and MyrtleBeachOnline.com.