ROSWELL, Ga. — Roswell North Elementary School is dedicated to instilling a sense of wonder in its students, said Principal Lydia Conway.
Conway recently had a chance to illustrate that commitment when she led a tour with dozens of community leaders and elected officials at the school to showcase its learning initiatives. The tour, held April 11, is part of a larger strategic initiative by the School Governance Council to increase community collaboration with local businesses, civic associations, faith-based organizations and local influencers, said School Governance Council representative Derek Lok.
The tour covered all grade levels and most subjects as well as afterschool groups, all geared toward educating and creating wonder for students.
“Everything that happens here is focused on the idea of wonder,” Conway said. “It’s not just about giving you answers, but about letting you wonder and predict what might happen.”
One of the most hands-on initiatives is the school’s gardening program.
Roswell North Elementary has participated in a farm-to-school program for the past three years and has, to date, harvested over 2,000 pounds of produce, she said.
The program, which includes hydroponics as well as traditional gardening, has students grow, transplant and harvest plants. Students take cooking lessons using the food they helped produce. This year’s farming program focuses on kale.
“One of my favorite stories from this past fall — the students from all grades used our gardens to make a kale salad with a vinaigrette dressing from scratch,” Lok said. “The students fell in love with it and went home to their families requesting kale be added to the grocery lists. We got bombarded with parents asking what we did with their children who were begging for kale.”
The school includes the Licata Science Lab staffed by a full-time teacher and sponsored by the Roswell North Elementary School Foundation. According to the foundation’s trustees, the lab has helped raise the school’s overall test scores significantly since its inception.
The lab features different programs for all grade levels and includes dissection projects for gummy worms, flowers, worms, owl pellets, frogs and sharks.
Above all, lab teacher Elizabeth Rains said she wants to help students cultivate a sense of love and appreciation of the sciences and the arts that can serve as a foundation for higher learning. The sciences and the arts are, after all, closely entwined, she said.
It’s the teachers that help students grow and prosper, regardless of their talents, Conway said. And the teacher of the year, music teacher Katrina Scoggins, does exactly that, she added.
“She believes so strongly that every student deserves to shine,” Conway said. “And one of the ways you can shine is through the arts and not academics.”
For physical education, the school has students wear pedometers during gym class and track their steps with various distance goals. The students love the challenge and have become more active since the pedometers were introduced, Conway said.
Roswell North Elementary also holds a new afterschool program for fifth graders called Toolbox. It teaches students how to build a “teeny, tiny house,” which includes measuring and cutting wood, reading blueprints and wiring.
The program has gone over so well that Fulton County officials are looking at implementing similar programs in other elementary schools, Conway said.
All of these programs wouldn’t have been possible without the community’s generosity, Rains said.
“None of this would have happened without you,” Rains said. “This doesn’t happen without our parents’ support. And it’s not just financial support, which is huge. It’s all of the hands-on support. It’s incredible.”