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Why Woodlawn

Page history last edited by dwayne 11 years, 11 months ago

Why Woodlawn? A Teacher's Perspective

by: Sarah Blackwell, 8th year Math Teacher, History Teacher, and Cross Country Coach

 

As a resident of south Charlotte, people I meet often ask me why I drive thirty miles each day to teach at a private school in Davidson when there are more than a dozen private schools (some of which are the most well-respected schools in the southeast) within ten minutes of my house. Since Woodlawn is a small school, teachers often have many varied responsibilities. Why would a teacher choose to have three or more preps each day when they could have just one? Why teach at a school that has intensive projects to grade rather than traditional SCAN-TRON tests? Why teach at a place that you are constantly evaluating and redeveloping the curriculum with other teachers rather than somewhere you can walk in and be handed what you need to teach? Why take the risk with a new school rather than go somewhere more established?

 

The reasons that I choose Woodlawn could be for the parent support, the exceptional students, the lack of discipline issues, the high-caliber faculty, the supportive administration, the small class sizes, the beautiful campus, or the challenging curriculum, but many of these things can probably be found at several different schools, public or private, across the area. So what is it that makes Woodlawn such a special place? It is the little snapshots that I see as I walk around campus each day. These experiences help define the unique environment at Woodlawn. Woodlawn is...

 

  • a 3rd grader and a 7th grader sitting on the front bench talking...
  • the art teacher taking pottery and drawing classes after school...
  • the administrators picking up trash and sorting lost and found...
  • students knitting and using sewing machines...
  • the smell of formaldehyde and animal projects coming from the science room...
  • a 9th grader teaching younger students about the history of ancient India...
  • the Spanish teacher with a passport full of stamps from around the world...
  • a 6th grader using an electric screwdriver to build a birdhouse...
  • the sound of students creating their own musical masterpieces...
  • a college professor lecturing in a social studies class on archeological finds...
  • 5th graders carrying supplies from the barn to work in the garden...
  • students cheering just as loud for the last runner to cross the finish line as the first...
  • the fourth grade podcast being downloaded to my computer...
  • a square dance by all the students honoring the history of the campus...
  • language arts classes sitting outside writing descriptions of their environment...
  • advertising banners for student-created small businesses...
  • the biggest banquet of the year being planned by 7th graders for homeless men...
  • the term “Senior Prom” on the school calendar meaning the dance the 8th graders are planning for the senior adults center...

 

These are snapshots of a school living out its mission. Woodlawn doesn’t just give lip service to integrating curriculum--the curriculum is constantly evolving to make connections more meaningful. It doesn’t just teach kids to serve others by simply writing a check--it makes sure that discussion and learning is an integral part of each service they provide others. It doesn’t just celebrate the environment on Earth Day--it teaches children to love nature and desire to protect it by experiencing it each day. The hands-on nature of Woodlawn instills wonder in its students. To me, wonder, an ingredient lacking in many test-driven schools, is the key to propelling students to want to be lifelong learners. So when I am asked why I teach at Woodlawn, I guess the simplest answer would be because the science teacher has dirt under her fingernails...

 

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