Photos by Rome City Schools - Dr. Scott McClure

What normally produces loud roars of laughter and excitement from elementary students instead had the halls of Elm Street so silent you could hear a pin drop.

Genius Hour, a monthly event at Elm Street that gives students an hour to learn, hands-on, with multiple different interest-based activities was approached with total concentration and passion.

Genius Hour is a part of the student advocacy program where Elm Street Principal, Laura Walley said, “We don’t focus on the standards specifically, and do something very real-world that interests the kids.”

There were 26 total stations, each with a different activity. Some of the activities students were participating in during Genius Hour were:

-Gardening
-Fitness
-Painting/ Arts and Crafts
-Making dog toys out of recycled materials
-Crafting floral arrangements
-Cosmetology
-Learning French
-Zen-tangle with Math
-Cooking
-Construction
-Cake decoration
-Cross Stitching
-Caring for live animals

“We sent out a Google Sheet and allowed teachers to list a hobby they would be willing to share with other students, which is how we came up with all of the specific activities,” said Walley. “Fourth, Fifth and Sixth grades were given the option to rank each activity starting their most favorite. From there, we tried to give each student their top five,” explained Walley.

“We don’t focus on the standards specifically, and do something very real-world that interests the kids.”

Hosting these activities required an all hands-on deck approach, which included bringing in volunteers from the community, as well. Several of the volunteers included: Micah Cain, a Professor at Shorter University who teaches ceramics, design and art appreciation; Anita Sealock, a retired Elm Street Elementary teacher; Dr. Eric Holland, Rome High School Principal and many more.

“Allowing the students a chance to interact with others gives them all an opportunity to meet and get to know friends in other grades. Additionally, it allows them the opportunity to get to know another adult that can be their ‘buddy,’ or just someone they can talk to who is not someone they interact with on a daily basis,” said Walley.

Several students chose to participate in the Gentleman’s Club during Genius Hour, led by Dr. Scott McClure, a paraprofessional at Elm Street Elementary. For Genius Hour this month, Elm Street students were surprised by a visit from Rome High School Principal, Dr. Eric Holland.

Along with his surprise visit, Dr. Holland also donated each little gentleman in the club a Rome Wolves tie, so they can begin to learn how to properly tie them, as well as wear them with confidence. Dr. Holland also took the time to teach the Gentleman’s Club how to greet people, including the correct way to shake hands.

It was evident that each student enjoyed their chosen activity. Walley continually praised them, as the students were being very courteous and engaged in what they were doing.

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Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Dawn Williams also was able to witness the incredible learning experiences that Elm Street offers their students. “It’s amazing to see all of these students so focused and interested in each individual activity they chose,” said Dr. Williams. “This is an incredible event, and I am so glad these students are able to learn something valuable while truly enjoying the process.”

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