Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Education

Media center at Challenger transformed into a living history lesson

SPRING HILL — Debbye Warrell, the librarian at Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics, didn't look like herself as she welcomed a second-grade class into her media center.

The pulled-back white hair and long, blue-and-white ruffled dress made her look more like Martha Washington, who had come by to greet the children.

Warrell's costume was her way of introducing students to this year's American history and civics theme: "U.S. Presidents, Men Who Dared to Dream."

In past years, Warrell has supported classroom teachers with various media center themes: the space program, folktale fantasy legends, wild animals and jungles, and pirates.

"I like to bring books to life," Warrell said.

In an effort to focus on the new Common Core State Standards for schools, Challenger is offering a new special focus — Civics in Action, or CIA — housed in a room off the media center.

"We thought it was time to bring in civics and social studies," Warrell said.

The room is guarded by Uncle Sam.

Warrell spent most of her summer redoing the decor in the media center, taking only three vacation days.

"I really, really like my job," she said.

She had help from parent volunteers, including Cindy and Tom Sierak, whose son previously attended the school. Tom Sierak, a professional artist, created a wall-size depiction of the first moonwalk in a corner of the media center, with a focus on President John F. Kennedy.

In another area, Cindy Sierak helped Warrell put together a replica of how a sitting room might have looked in George Washington's Mount Vernon home. There are two old-fashioned rocking chairs and a table with old books on it.

The room has a faux fireplace, and the windows behind the area were painted to look as if the Potomac River is flowing along just beyond the walls. A needlepoint rug, made by Warrell's great-grandmother, is on the floor. The sitting area is chained off to give it the look of a museum.

Warrell showed the second-graders an old wallet, an iron, a butter press, a cabbage cutting board and a coleslaw jar in the Washington display. Interested in the way she looked, one of the students called out: "Were you alive when he was alive?"

Hesitating only a moment, Warrell answered, "Yes, as Martha Washington."

Another corner was dedicated to President Teddy Roosevelt. Warrell has busts of him and Franklin D. Roosevelt, but is focusing this year on the earlier president, in particular his establishment of the National Park System. The walls were painted with trees for a forest-like effect.

The fourth president upon whom Warrell will focus this year is Abraham Lincoln. That area is in the back of the media center and is not quite finished. It will include a log cabin. Warrell has a butter churn there now. She will talk about the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation.

After walking through the displays, the second-graders had already learned things about the highlighted presidents.

"One of our presidents was part of our astronaut program," said Mariah Perez, 7, referring to Kennedy.

Mariah also was impressed with Warrell's dress and all the old items.

"I really like old-fashioned stuff," she said.

Christian Cromer, 7, said, "I didn't know that George Washington had a lake (Potomac River) right behind his house. I learned that John Kennedy died while he was in office."

Christian was also impressed with Warrell's Martha Washington costume.

Comments
Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is ‘Feminism’

Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is ‘Feminism’

NEW YORK — This may or may not come as a surprise: Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is "feminism." Yes, it’s been a big year or two or 100 for the word. In 2017, lookups for feminism increased 70 percent over 2016 on Mer...
Updated: 4 hours ago
‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

RIVERVIEW — As a foster parent with two sons of her own, Kayla Storey has learned all the tricks to get her kids out of bed and off to school every morning. But this year, Storey says she’s the one waking up every school day with a knot i...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

University of Central Florida Greeks won’t hold social events, serve alcohol for 6 weeks this spring

ORLANDO — University of Central Florida fraternities and sororities won’t host social activities or any events with drinking for at least the first six weeks of the spring semester, up from the two-week ban on alcohol that has been in place in the pa...
Published: 12/08/17
Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Disturbed by stories about the rape of teens by supervisory staff, a pandemic of sometimes savage force, brutal beatdowns ordered by youth care workers and policies that permit the hiring of violent offenders, Miami-Dade’s state attorney wants to kno...
Published: 12/07/17
Henderson: Some basic facts about Hillsborough’s teacher pay imbroglio

Henderson: Some basic facts about Hillsborough’s teacher pay imbroglio

Hillsborough County’s public school teachers are horn-honking, voice-raising, sign-waving, foot-stomping mad, and I can’t blame them. They are paying for a problem they didn’t create. About one-third of the workforce was expecting to receive a $4,000...
Published: 12/07/17
In Watershed Ambassadors Program, Pasco students learn about natural Florida

In Watershed Ambassadors Program, Pasco students learn about natural Florida

SPRING HILL — On a small wooden dock at the Cross Bar Ranch, Cynthia Brinker gingerly pokes through the trappings in her fishing net, plucking out a tiny creature to examine close up. "What the heck is this?" the Weightman Middle School studen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Crognale named 2018 Hernando Principal of the Year

Crognale named 2018 Hernando Principal of the Year

BROOKSVILLE — For just a year and a half, Steve Crognale has been the principal at the Endeavor and Discovery Academies. But now, he’s been named the Hernando School District Principal of the Year for 2018. Endeavor serves students, most of them hig...
Published: 12/06/17
‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

RIVERVIEW — As a foster parent with two sons of her own, Kayla Storey is skilled at calming first-day-of-school jitters. But this school year, Storey says she’s the one waking up every weekday with a knot in her stomach.It’s been there ever since th...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Why do universities handle sexual assault cases, anyway?

Why do universities handle sexual assault cases, anyway?

News stories about campus sexual assault often get the question, "Why do schools handle these cases, anyway?"Readers often wonder how universities got tasked with handling these convoluted cases in the first place. Where, they ask, do the police come...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Hillsborough teachers keep the heat on after $92 bonus offer

Hillsborough teachers keep the heat on after $92 bonus offer

TAMPA — The second Hillsborough County School Board meeting in less than a month took place Tuesday against a backdrop of honking car horns, cheering teachers and audience members moving through the room in shifts.Dressed in blue union-issued T-shirt...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17