Zachary Lane Elementary sprouts kindness to help students
Students at Zachary Lane Elementary observed the "Great Kindness Challenge" in a big way in January. Staff, parents, and community members formed a "kindness tunnel" to cheer students on their way to class.

Students collected donations for people and animals in need. Students made posters to encourage friends and faculty. All students and staff gathered in the cafeteria to talk about ways to be kind.

"This week we are trying to build a habit. We are trying to build a culture and make it a part of who they are," says Kelly Kudla, assistant principal at Zachary Lane Elementary. "To see the kids glowing internally because they were doing something kind is really neat to see."

Students exceeding expectations is nothing new at the Plymouth school. Instructors keep up rigorous academic standards while incorporating hands-on learning in comfortable learning environments.

"When students come to this school, they will learn better if they are comfortable," says principal Matt Phelps. "We are really working hard to make sure the rigor is there for our kids. We know the community that feeds this school expects great things for their kids and that’s what we are trying to deliver."

Each teacher creates a unique learning environment in his or her classroom. One teacher keeps fluorescent lighting to a minimum and tries to incorporate as much natural light as possible. Another teacher encourages the use of flexible seating, so students can learn sitting at a desk, standing at a table, or even sitting on the floor. Kindergarteners have learning divided into sections of time so they can work plenty of physical activity into their day.

One constant among all the classrooms is the "I-can" statements that are posted in the front of the room. These statements clearly outline academic goals for students.

"If you say, I can learn math facts, the student knows then, this is what I’m supposed to be learning. If you know what you are supposed to be focusing on, you are going to get a better result," says Phelps.

Shannon Slatton, reporting
on Twitter: @sslatton

January 30, 2018


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