Breaking boards and ground in middle school

Katherine Fuller

June 04, 1993|By Katherine Fuller

AND the board broke.

Those of us who broke our boards that day carried our souvenirs with us to display to every student, administrator, teacher or staff member we saw in Loch Raven Middle School and to explain our accomplishments to anyone who would listen. (I suspect some very patient people heard our tale more than once.)

Dressed in sweats and exercise clothes, we assembled in the mat room off the gym for first period class one morning in September. We were one English teacher, 30 seventh-grade students and our one-day-a-week mentor, Sun reporter Joe Nawrozki.

We started with warm-up exercises and words of explanation and encouragement from Mr. Nawrozki, who is also a Tae Kwon Do instructor. Then my students and I tried our fists at 3/4-inch-thick pine boards.

Granted, this is an unusual scenario in an English class, and one would be justified in questioning what karate has to do with English. One is physical, the other cerebral. But they have much in common. Self-confidence and extreme concentration are required for success in both.

Mr. Nawrozki's visits to Loch Raven are part of a mentoring program developed as a partnership between the school and the newspaper. With the addition of an extra adult in my classroom on Wednesdays, I have been able to plan activities and offer more individual assistance than would have been possible in a traditional class of 30 students and one teacher.

The mentoring program has had tangible and intangible successes. We've discussed articles in the morning newspaper, and the students have learned something about interviewing techniques and writing a news story. The students groaned when their first drafts needed revision, then their second drafts, then their third . . . But those who worked at it gained confidence and skills.

As a reward for their consistent effort throughout the year and as an extension of their participation in the program, some Class 7-05's students now mentor students in a functional special education class once a week. It's a major accomplishment for my students, who have not always been motivated or successful themselves, to share their talents and efforts with other students who also need extra encouragement.

Following is part of the winning story about the program written by one of our students, Kevin Ayd:

"Loch Raven Middle School and The Sun are involved in a mentor program. Reporters come every week to help classes write and read. Another part of the program is to help the students become successful.

"The program appears to be successful based on the reactions of Loch Raven Middle School's staff and students.

"'I think the program is excellent because having somebody who writes for a living helping youngsters learn to write is great,' said Mr. John Foley, assistant principal.

"'I think the program is unique because it shows a very good partnership between business and school,' said Mr. Jack Wilson, principal. . .

"The program began when Mrs. Katherine Fuller, an English teacher at Loch Raven Middle School, said she needed more help in her classroom. So The Sun would have a reporter come every Wednesday to help teach us to become better readers and writers.

"The students and teachers hope the mentor program will last beyond this year and that more students and teachers will get involved. . ."

Teacher Katherine Fuller has been in education for 17 years. She has a master's degree from Hopkins.

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