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Photo: DRES Teacher Emily Baldwin with Ingrid, her instructor

Photo: DRES Teacher Emily Baldwin with Ingrid, her instructor

Many elementary students attend summer school or summer camp. Through a grant from the City of Fairfax Schools, Daniels Run ES counselor Emily Baldwin spent two weeks of the summer of 2017 studying Spanish in Guatemala. Baldwin wanted to work towards building her Spanish conversational skills so she can better support her Spanish-speaking students and families that have limited English language.

Baldwin lived with a Guatemalan family and was immersed in the Guatemalan culture and Spanish language. Every weekday, Baldwin had five hours of one on one instruction with a teacher (pictured). She also lived with a family and ate all her meals with them, helping her practice what she learned in the morning.

“I left with better Spanish abilities, a deeper understanding of Guatemalan culture, and a greater respect for the challenges of living in a country when you do not speak the native language,” said Baldwin.  “I am so thankful to the City of Fairfax Schools that I was able to do this, and am continuing my Spanish studies here in the United States.”

 

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Daniels Run ES first graders in Ms. Novak’s class were challenged by their teacher to create sample obstacles for the America Ninja Warrior television show. The host and show were so impressed by the six and seven-year olds’ work they showcased the cardboard creations on their website. This week, the Fairfax Connection profiled the students and their obstacles on their cover.

The project-based learning lesson was created by the teacher after hearing her students talk about the show during snack time. The students worked in groups all while identifying shapes and using engineering skills to problem solve. Using the school’s Innovation Space, the first graders worked with classroom volunteer Alan Friedman to create the obstacles.

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Adam Erbrecht, principal of Daniels Run Elementary School (DRES) and his staff set out with one goal this year; to be a positive difference in the lives of each of their students. With this goal in mind, the administration and staff at DRES created a School Improvement Plan that supports students and creates opportunities for all students to learn, grow and thrive.

Presenting to the City of Fairfax School Board on Monday, February 6, 2017, Principal Erbrecht highlighted student achievement, the new Innovation Space, the efforts to support students in need with Responsive Instruction and the Positivity Project.

“We’ve been working hard so we don’t leave any stone unturned for our students,” said Erbrecht. He showed pass rates for the Virginia Standards of Learning averages for his students: 83 percent in reading, 92 percent in math and 86 percent in science. In addition, Erbrecht was proud of his kindergartners who had a 92 percent achievement for reading goals.

DRES launched the Innovation Space this year. The Innovation Space is an independent classroom for all students to rotate throughout the school year to work on age appropriate challenges using everyday household items. The challenges are designed to encourage students to collaborate and think creatively all while solving complex problems. For example, Victoria Novak’s first grade class used cardboard tubes and pool noodles to identify shapes and create obstacles for the popular “America Ninja Warrior” (see profile of class in the Fairfax Connection).

Erbrecht also spoke of the partnership with the Positivity Project, a 501 c3 non-profit organization dedicated to helping America’s youth build stronger relationships by seeing the character strengths in themselves and others. The Positivity Project and DRES helps students to identify, appreciate and articulate character strengths in themselves and others. Assistant principal Valerie Hardy has seen a difference, “Having students see the strengths themselves and helping them zoom in on power, perseverance and commitment.”

 

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website7This year Daniels Run Elementary School launched “Innovation Space”, a classroom dedicated to bringing innovation to students. The space will offer every student in the school an enrichment program to become inventors, collaborators and problem solvers. Students will take everyday items such as cardboard rolls, legos, pipe cleaners and egg cartons to solve complex challenges to improve existing objects or create entirely new products. The Innovation Space is a similar offering as the Providence ES STEAM Lab, a dedicated classroom that brings additional science, technology, engineering, math and the arts to Providence students. Both of these enrichment opportunities are possible because of support from the City of Fairfax, allowing the two schools to have some of the only supplemental programs in the county. We are excited to prepare our students to become the next generation of leaders and innovators!

 

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