Volunteers sought to add fun, variety to learning Goal is to expand students' choices

August 09, 1993|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Staff Writer

Jack Wilson is looking for a few good men -- or women -- who would like to make learning more fun for the students at Loch Raven Middle School.

No, he's not seeking teachers with joke books. He's after volunteers -- parents, grandparents or other interested residents -- with talents, hobbies, avocations or other interests to share with students for a couple of hours a week.

He's thinking about subjects such as photography, coin-collecting, poetry and current events -- subjects that are not part of the middle school curriculum, but are part of middle-schoolers' interests.

Mr. Wilson, the Loch Raven principal, is introducing two optional noncredit programs this fall to give youngsters more choices in their school day. Although he could use faculty members to staff the programs, he would prefer to have volunteers with expertise lead these "exploratory" and "discovery" sessions.

The exploratory program will be a "bag-lunch special," which students can attend during their lunch periods once or twice a week for four to eight weeks. Among the topics will be dinosaurs, creative writing, drama, environmental issues and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Students will work on a project or performance that reflects what they are learning in the lunchtime sessions, Mr. Wilson said.

Discovery is a new after-school program that also aims to build on students' interests. It will offer programs such as photography, model rocketry and dance. Discovery sessions will run for 90 minutes after dismissal. A late bus will take students home.

These programs are "more than a choice," Mr. Wilson said. "It's an opportunity for kids to make a statement about themselves. We are going to find giftedness in kids simply by tapping into their interests.

"We're looking for the kid who has been into this [subject] . . . but has not had anybody tap into it," he said.

Each session will have about a dozen students. Volunteer instructors will get plenty of help from teachers. Mr. Wilson said he will ask volunteers to agree to spend one or two hours a week at school for at least four weeks.

How many and what subjects will be offered depends on the availability of instructors and the interest of students.

A list of possible mini-course topics was compiled from a survey last year of students' interests, Mr. Wilson said.

"We choose the routines" for school, but these special-interest courses let students work in "areas that they have chosen," he said.

This is particularly important for middle-school students, the principal said, because "these kids have so much self-doubt."

Exploration is a hallmark of the county's new middle school guidelines, developed this year to help middle schools be more consistent in their instruction and more attuned to the developmental needs and characteristics of 10- to 14-year-old students.

Anyone wishing to be a volunteer instructor at Loch Raven Middle School should call the principal, Jack Wilson, at the school, 887-3518.

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