In Elementary school, we learn how to read, spell, write in cursive (which my younger friends have told me is not a thing anymore), etc. But at Yorktown Elementary, you also get the opportunity to learn how to track hurricanes! Ms. Kathy Lennartz leads the way in her Yorktown Elementary trailer, as she with the collaborative efforts of Community Knights provide several classes of students a one-of-a-kind experience in learning how to track Hurricanes…live!
While Ms. Lennartz may not have the power to control the weather, she did find this incredible interactive e-mission site put on by the Challenger Learning Center. You skype a professional during the mission and have several teams of students taking on the very fast paced job of tracking, and yes even naming, the hurricanes simulated. Ms. Lennartz explained that the mission requires students to practice their math, reading, problem-solving, and communication skills in a quickly moving simulation of what tracking a hurricane is like.
During the mission, students are in constant communication with their Commander at the National Hurricane Center. They will then give instructions to the crew (students) on what she needs of them. They’re left with various tools for calculations, writing utensils, their own programs up on their table’s laptop, and their teams (Bravo, Charlie, Echo, etc.). As the teams get to work, they scramble to keep up with the information and provide reports to their Commander. Occasionally a team will make an announcement naming the Hurricane storm. Meanwhile, Ms. Lennartz takes a step back and aids her students should they get stuck. She is also trained in this mission by the institution in order to prepare the class to go as smoothly as possible. At the end of it all, the kids rejoice and cannot wait to tell their friends on the bus what they did today.
In asking why Ms. Lennartz tries so hard to be innovative in her classrooms (working in one of the most arguably underpaid but important professions in the World), she explained that “I wanted to give them something tangible, something that they can gain real-life skills from. This experience is much more impactful than just reading about it in a book.” With the leadership of Ms. Lennartz and the support of Yorktown Elementary and Community Knights, children of York County are getting a valuable, interactive teaching experience that will follow them for years into their academic careers. Efforts like these show that learning and education can always be an adventure, no matter what school or what classroom.