Since its founding in 1963, Wesleyan has grown in various ways. Campus expansion, new programs, new students and teachers and changes in policy are all a part of making Wesleyan the best it can be each year. Recently, the school has been focused on specific improvements in the Lower School. These developments include new programs called the Passport Club and the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) Lab as well as a discipleship program.
Each of these new advances were intentionally designed to encourage an interactive experience for Lower School students. In regards to these new opportunities, Lower School Principal Jason Erb said, “We have created a more hands-on approach to learning, especially in science. The discipleship program has allowed us to connect better with our students and allows students to build great cross-grade relationships.”
Building cross-grade relationships is a major benefit of the new discipleship program. Students are placed in small, gender separated groups led by Lower School teachers. These discipleship groups meet briefly every Wednesday to talk about what is going on and discuss the lesson from chapel that day. Making friends across grades builds stronger community and allows younger students to feel more comfortable knowing that they have older friends to turn to for help and advice.
The STEAM Lab is part of an effort to emphasize science, technology, engineering, art and math in the Lower School. Also commonly referred to as the maker space, this unique room is specifically designed for building and creating. Equipped with tables and shelves full of arts and crafts supplies, this space is ideal for any Lower School project. Students learn to be creative and learn from each other while working together in the STEAM lab.
The Passport Club is a very exciting new opportunity for Lower School students. Emphasizing independent studies of geography, this program allows students to go at their own pace. Students are equipped with mock-passports, lanyards, t-shirts and study maps. Each month, students can choose to study either five, ten, fifteen or twenty-five countries that they will be tested on in order to earn rewards. When asked about the student response to this new program, Erb said, “Students have reacted to the Passport Club with excitement and engagement.”
The Lower School is always investigating new opportunities for growth. Teachers and administrators are instrumental in the development of new programs and ideas to enhance the experience for students. Michael Mann, Lisa Williams and Sara Cooper were very involved in starting STEAM projects, and Pam Smith, Brittany Knight, Claire Graham and Laura Jensen helped create the new Discipleship program. All of these learning opportunities are just a small part of what sets Wesleyan apart from any other elementary level education.