Program celebrates 10 years

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Parents went to James Elementary on Thursday night to stay involved with their children’s education and saw first-hand the things their children are learning at school.

It was part of the 10-year anniversary of a professional development program in which college students work with James Elementary teachers to instruct students. The celebration on Thursday allowed parents to view third-graders participating in different math and science projects.

During the family night, the third-graders tried to make objects float, test how far toy cars slide and test the distance they could make rubber frogs jump. In one experiment, students created ramps with wooden blocks and the object was to let toy cars go on the ramps to see how far they would go.

“I like it (family night), I think it’s a good idea,” Tammy McSperitt, parent of third-grader Tori, said. “They (children) like to show their parents what they are doing at school. She likes school a lot.”

McSperitt said her daughter feels more comfortable in her second year of attending James Elementary, which is for second- and third-graders. Tori attended James Elementary, last year, as a second-grader.

Leona Lopez brought her daughter, Samantha Lopez, to family night. Lopez said she has attended other family nights with her daughter. Lopez said family night is a good thing for the children to attend and gives them something different to do and learn at the same time.

“It’s a learning experience for them (students) and they (teachers) make it fun for them,” Lopez said. “You have to stay involved and stay on top of what your kids are doing and what they’re learning about. We come to family night every year.”

Jerry Everhart, a college of education professor and a program instructor, said the program started out with ENMU students going to James Elementary to observe once a week. Now students go every day.

The students altered the height of the ramps to have the cars stop in between two blue lines.

In another project, a blue lake was drawn on paper and the children had a ruler with a rubber frog on one end. The third-graders dropped their hands on the other end of the ruler to try to vault the frogs into the blue lake.

Adolfo Nunez, third-grader, said his parents help him with homework when he’s at his house. Nunez said he enjoyed the ramp test the most. David Viera, third-grader enjoyed the frog leap the most. He said he missed the lake the first time.

Gina Marie Riedel, a third-grader, was excited when she was able to get the car to stop in between the two blue lines. It was easily the most enjoyable experiment she said she conducted.

Tommy Filpi, an ENMU student who is in the professional development program, said he would like to teach at a small school after he graduates. Filpi said a school the size of Logan Municipal Schools in New Mexico, which he attended would be the right size.

Filpi said he works with a teacher and learns about instruction to elementary students in the classrooms.
“I’d love to be teaching in a small town,” Filpi said. “It’s (professional development) been a lot of fun.”

Filpi said the ENMU students work in the program during the fall semester and in the spring semester they student-teach in schools.

Randy Fowler, Portales School District superintendent and Steven Gamble, ENMU president, praised the professional development program on Thursday while they were in attendance. Both said the program is a positive example of the collaboration between the Portales School District and ENMU.