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Joseph Thomas

Education

Dance...and Music and iPads, Oh My

2011 Regional Arkansas Teacher of the Year, Margaret Elumbaugh, recently contacted Eye on Independence concerning a new addition to the technology at West Magnet Elementary. Upon my arrival Principal Edie Allen met me at the office for a brief discussion that led to Mrs. Elumbaugh giving me the grand tour of the arts-based school. Principal Allen explained to me that dance is to West Magnet what football is for most high schools; it is their main draw and keeps their numbers high, but there is so much more opportunity at this facility: strings, band, drama, visual arts, select choir, piano lab, and an exceptional physical education and health program. There are many advantages unique to West Magnet; like all Batesville Magnet Schools, the core curriculum is surrounded by areas that might attract certain individuals and aid in making their academic careers more attractive. West Magnet obviously has the draw of the arts; but also, thanks to Mark Rorie’s Polk Bayou Kids series, it has its own legend to intrigue “The Goonies” loving, child explorer in all of us. Of all of the wonderful things going on at West Magnet, the kids are most excited about the latest technical addition to the schools arsenal of educational weapons; West Magnet has secured a classroom full of Apple iPads. The iPads were purchased by the school; Principal Allen surprised everyone with the

class set after they lost a competitive local grant. The children are so excited and really enjoy the work they get to do on the iPads. The students I spoke with were delighted by the touch screen technology that makes class work fun. The iPads are just the newest asset to a school with a lot going for it. A brief look at a Strings Class and the Piano Lab is enough to see how this could be considered an education wrapped in playtime. “We have many fun and artistic activities here, but our curriculum is very intense and challenging and we strive to improve that intensity every year so that our students might be that much further ahead,” Elumbaugh tells me as we walk the halls from a class of children dissecting hearts to another in the middle of a math lesson. Teachers like Elumbaugh have a way of adopting our children for a time with all the more payoff to our children’s character, I believe. Principal Allen explains that they are focusing on writing this year in every classroom to improve cognitive and reasoning skills and to prepare students for high school and college. She is also excited about the turn to Common Core this year which will be more challenging for the children and will narrow the focus so as to be more manageable for the teachers and further prepare each student. N

Photo submitted

Photo submitted

Photos by Joseph Thomas

Eye On Independence December 2011  

December 2011 issue of Eye On Independence