March 31, 2009
Virginia Museum of Natural History staff members recognized John Redd Smith Elementary School's strong participation in museum education programs, presenting the school's Parent-Teachers Organization with the museum's first "Partners in Academic Excellence Award" during a PTO meeting on Monday, March 30. By the end of the current school year, six VMNH educators will have delivered 107 programs to third, fourth, and fifth-grade students at the Henry County, Virginia school.
Dr. Dennis Casey, director of education and public programs at VMNH, presented the award to the PTO officers during the event, which also included insect-themed refreshments provided by VMNH educators.
"This award represents the power of partnerships," Casey said. "This is the result of the museum, the PTO, and the teachers working together to support the education of the children."
At the end of the 2007-2008 school year, teachers and administrators at JRS contacted VMNH staff to request the development of additional museum education programs for fourth and fifth-grade programs, in addition to the existing programs for third-grade students. The programs were developed to address additional fourth and fifth-grade Science Standards of Learning. As a result, museum educators designed four new programs including "Scientific Investigation", "Future Forecasters", and "Earth, Moon and Sun – Rotation and Revolution".
Teachers at JRS praised the museum program's focus on topics included in the Virginia Standards of Learning.
"This program was presented at the perfect time," said Amy Hairfield, fifth-grade teacher at JRS. "The program was presented with great enthusiasm and knowledge. My students were actively engaged and absolutely loved this lesson, and I hope we can have this program next year."