The SCHSD is partnering with the Neag Center for the Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Connecticut to begin to develop and implement the School-wide Enrichment Model (SEM) at the middle school level in all five schools. A District Leadership Team has been established and trained in the foundations of the SEM model. These representatives are working with building administration and faculty to develop the structure and practices of SEM that are custom tailored to capitalize on the unique talents of both faculty and students within each school. Initial SEM activities are being focused on supporting 7th grade students in Integrated Advanced classes, and through after school Talented and Gifted opportunities, open to all interested and motivated students. According to the Neag website,"The major goal of the SEM is the application of gifted education pedagogy to total school improvement. The SEM provides enriched learning experiences and higher learning standards for all children through three goals; developing talents in all children, providing a broad range of advanced-level enrichment experiences for all students, and providing advanced follow-up opportunities for young people based on their strengths and interests. The SEM focuses on enrichment for all students through high levels of engagement and the use of enjoyable and challenging learning experiences that are constructed around students' interests, learning styles, and preferred modes of expression."To learn more about SEM, please click on the link below:2015-2016 SEM Highlights:
EMPOWERING THE NATION:
ELMONT MEMORIAL’S TALENTED AND GIFTED STUDENTS
TAKE UCONN BY STORM
by Munahil Sultana and Nneka Emeagwali
Although the final bell had rung for Elmont Memorial’s 2015-2016 school year, students in one English teacher’s classroom were eager to continue a yearlong project that kept them so engaged that they volunteered to continue during their summer vacations. On Tuesday, July 12th, sixteen of Maria Harley’s 7th and 8th grade students accompanied her to the University of Connecticut to share the impact of this project with hundreds of educators who attended the annual Confratute workshop.
“The Empowerment Project gives students an opportunity to voice their concerns about local and global issues and gives them a platform to explore solutions,” Ms. Harley describes. “Through poetry, art, music, speeches, websites and other community outreach, students raised awareness about topics ranging from the wage gap to nuclear proliferation, from Black Lives Matter to educating girls around the world.”
While some students used social media to shed light on their topics, others made public service announcement videos and interactive displays which reinforced unity and respect within the school.
“Students were truly empowered as they researched, analyzed and contributed to the ongoing dialogue about these social conditions. They became enthusiastic writers and confident speakers who were passionate about the subject matter.”
The excitement was still evident on July 12th when these committed middle school students met their teacher in front of Elmont Memorial High School at 5:45 a.m. and bonded during the three-hour trip to the University of Connecticut. There, they were greeted by their co-presenter, Nicole Waicunas, and Sewanhaka Central High School’s Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Cheryl Champ.
For the next hour and a half, Adetorera Adebiyi, Fisola Aruleba, Sky Arthur, Jahnia Cunningham, Nneka Emeagwali, Olisa Emeagwali, Imani Favard, Hannah Meikle, Laiba Mian, Melina Persaud, Lina Pinzon, Marvia Pressoir, Kai Reale, Karina Sandoval, Munahil Sultana and Aliyaah Toussaint mesmerized the audience of teachers and administrators, many saying that they will be implementing elements learned from this presentation into their schools next year. From the autobiographical poems to the soul-stirring song written and performed by Olisa, these students delivered an unforgettable presentation.
When asked to describe this year and this experience, Munahil Sultana had this to say:
“In Ms. Harley’s class, students find themselves in a unique situation— as they step into the doors of room 226, they are treated as adults and taught that their voices matter. While many of us have been told to speak up, we have grown accustomed to being ignored and many youn people feel that we can’t make a difference –at least not in the way we want to.
“After many years of sitting in classrooms where students feel limited, you can imagine the surprise on my face when Mrs. Harley allowed us to discuss a range of topics such as animal cruelty and discrimination. She encouraged us to bring up issues that are important to us and debate them in class. What's even more astounding was that she actually cared about what we had to say.”
Along with fellow 8th grader Fisola Aruleba, Munahil met with Elmont Memorial’s principal, Kevin Dougherty, in hopes of introducing the project schoolwide. They wanted to share what they had learned with the 7th-12th grade students in their social studies classes. Mr. Dougherty supported the students and the Empowerment Project continued to flourish.
Hannah Meikle, who represented the Talented and Gifted program in Connecticut, was ecstatic about the event. “Confratute was an amazing experience. We were able to speak to educators who truly valued our time and thoughts. This experience helped me to see how much of an impact children can make and how much we matter to this world and the future. It was truly incredible and inspiring!”
Ending the presentation, the students performed a touching tribute to Ms. Harley for guiding them in this project. They all agreed that this is a moment that they will always remember.
Nneka Emeawali said, “The trip was eye-opening. I didn’t realize how much my words can influence our audience until I saw the looks on their faces. They were in awe and it only motivated me to do better and to push myself. I know that my fellow classmates can say the same. One audience member came up to me after the presentation and said how proud she is of us and how hopeful she is of the future because we will be leading it. We left Connecticut knowing that this is not the end of a project but in fact a new beginning. I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish going forward!”H. Frank Carey's SEM NightIn April, 7th graders at H. Frank Carey participated in a student enrichment project through the Social Studies department. They researched several charities, and decided to raise money for America’s VetDogs. Students designed their own presentations, which were then shared in classes throughout the school as a fundraising effort. Ultimately, nearly $800 was raised for this charity, thanks to the hard work of this dedicated group of students. All SEM students presented their work to friends and family at the H. Frank Carey SEM night held on June 9, 2016.District SEM TrainingA team of District faculty attended the annual Confratute held at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT from July 10-15, 2016. This annual event provides intensive training in the theory and practice of the School-wide Enrichment Model. The District plans to implement elements of the model with 8th grade as well as 7th grade in the 2016-2017 school year.