Ivy Peterson, a summer intern with The Barry Robinson Center, wrote this article. Ivy is a senior at the University of Virginia.
This past summer, students at The Barry Robinson Center engaged with new, exciting and creative lessons in the classroom as a part of the school’s summer enrichment programs.
“The students have enjoyed a wide variety of activities and hands-on experiences indoors and outdoors,” said Director of Education Cindy Mills.
Elementary students in Beth Hall’s class were captivated by stories of worldwide cultures, art and folktales. They made serapes from Mexico, koi fish kites from Japan, cuckoo clocks from Germany, and more. Hall said they enjoyed learning about famous landmarks, and the lives of children in different countries while working on their crafts. All of these activities led to lively discussions about diversity, traditions and customs.
Jeff Shield used games and experiments to teach math and science. Students took a Myer’s Briggs test, completed Punnett squares, built sand timers, Popsicle stick bridges, board games, and even egg protectors that they tested by dropping them from the fire escape. The students especially loved creating the intricate Popsicle stick bridges and proudly displayed them in their rooms, Shield said.
Finally, raising caterpillars and then releasing them as butterflies was a favorite activity for many of the residents. While observing the life cycle of the caterpillars, students created artwork showcasing the stages they observed. They also learned about other insects, the water cycle, weather, and clouds through creating charts, water cycle diagrams and cotton ball clouds.
Middle and high school students were also busy over the summer. James Rainey taught cooking and gardening, guiding students while they created their own recipes using vegetables from the Center’s garden. They also grew their own flowers in decoupage planters created in their visual arts class. Creativity flowed in the visual arts classroom. Students made clay sculptures, intricate origami and colorful mandala drawings.
In the life skills class, students worked on perfecting resumes, researching jobs and creating informational posters about careers they were interested in. All of these experiences helped to not only enrich children’s everyday lives, but also taught important skills to prepare them for discharge.
As summer comes to an end, students and teachers begin gearing up for another exciting year of school at the Center.
Julie Carey, assistant director of education, expressed her enthusiasm for the annual summer enrichment program. “Each year, our teachers develop lessons for great student engagement that provides a positive change of pace from the traditional school year.”