out a business plan with a classmate to help his community and converting measurements to build a fancy coop for the class chickens. Using his hands made him feel strong and capable, but using his hands in conjunction with technology made him feel like he could change the future.
What has eyes, ears, and grows on a farm? ichael Bryant, full-time North Little Rock Middle School seventh-grader, part-time carpenter and farmer, has built several things during his time in EAST: a ramp to help an elderly Arkansan, a fence to protect the chickens he and his classmates are raising, and, most importantly, a higher level of confidence in his innate abilities!
attended three to five hours of tutoring after school weekly. He dreaded school and the types of challenges it presented for him. Michael joined EAST in sixth grade as a highly introverted student who felt like doing the “hard things”-like math problems or making class presentations--was impossible for him.
Dr. Susan Bryant, child psychologist and a firm supporter of EAST at North Little Rock Middle School, sat down to talk with members of the EAST Board of Directors about how being a part of EAST has aided in her son’s cognitive development and ultimately the development of his self-confidence.
As early as kindergarten, Michael struggled to perform well academically and was labeled by his teachers as challenged or a slow learner, and, admittedly, his performance was less than stellar, according to his mom. As his education progressed, a gift for building and constructing things began to surface, and this is where Dr. Bryant started to see a change in her son. EAST became a place for Michael to be free and to express himself through his natural talents. While he hated contractions in English and struggled through fractions in Math, he loved writing
Michael is a student with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Dyslexia, and many teachers said that Michael would always struggle in school without hours of tutoring. Before joining EAST, Michael 2
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Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development explains how people construct their thought processes, including remembering, problemsolving, and decision-making, from childhood through adolescence to adulthood (Wadsworth 1996).“The discipline they learn in EAST helps with the mental discipline to get through hard things. It helps them realize, ‘I can do hard things,’ so when it comes time to do stuff that seems hard, the students already know, I can do hard things,” says Dr. Bryant. Michael and Dr. Bryant attribute much of the advancement of Michael's confidence in himself and his ability to learn to his EAST facilitator, KJ Kite. Ms. Kite has sought out projects in Michael’s areas of strength and encouraged him to complete each one better than he did the last. Ms. Kite is reinforcing the thought processes needed to be a great problem solver and helping those thought processes become second nature. Dr. Bryant believes that EAST has played a significant role in the improvement of Michael’s academic and social abilities. He is less self-conscious and enjoys middle school more. Now instead of three to five hours of tutoring, Michael attends two to three hours of tutoring. He spends his extra free time mentoring new EAST students and being a coowner to a lawn care business with two classmates, Seth and Noah. So, what has eyes, ears, and grows on a farm? A student in EAST!
Wadsworth, B. J. (1996). Piaget’s theory of cognitive and affective development: Foundations of constructivism (5th ed.). White Plains, NY, England: Longman Publishing