Press release from Rumson School District

DP_Community_Helpers_PhotoSome chose police officers and firefighters. Others favored letter carriers, doctors, nurses, and teachers — while veterinarians proved to be a very popular choice.

Recently, Rumson School District kindergarteners embarked on an exploration of the importance of these and other “community helpers.” With each student encouraged to select the community helper that interested them, and that they wanted to learn more about, the project allowed them to work independently and search for answers to questions they created, on their own.

Teachers such as Ms. Feeney were on hand to guide, coach and facilitate the students as needed, helping them find books and online resources, and encouraging them to stretch their ideas and reflections. Students expressed excitement over their being allowed to choose which helper they could research, and what type of information they wanted to learn.

“These student driven projects allow students the freedom to actively explore their interests,” said Ms. Feeney. “Students excel in a learning environment full of inquiry, and they were very enthusiastic to discover the skills and jobs of their community helper.”

The project helped serve to demonstrate that as the students’ interest level rises, their retention of educational material strengthens, and their overall enthusiasm for learning increases. As part of the project, students wrote letters to their selected community helpers, and many of them received responses which made the learning become personal.

At the conclusion of the project, the teachers and students shared additional ideas on what they could have done to enhance the learning experience.Teachers talked about bringing representatives of the various community helpers into the classrooms, while students said they could create the work spaces out of boxes. Both are great ideas for next year’s Community Helper project.