By Sierra LaDuke
When I was in grade school, I anxiously avoided eye contact with my teacher if she asked for a volunteer to read in front of the class. I felt like one of those district 12 kids waiting to hear my fate in The Reaping scene of The Hunger Games.
Evening-program alum, Tristan Gandolfi, figured out the formula for eliminating fear and adding fun to the classroom. Tristan has put her curriculum to the test these past two days with the “School’s A Joke” camp, housed in the SEED SPOT classroom.
When Tristan requested a reader, the hands of all nine students shot straight up; every one of them was willing to volunteer as tribute. How did Tristan work this magic? She loosened everyone up with an improv game before introducing the educational stuff. During the warm-up activity, smiling kids pretended to eat faces, audition for a gymnastics team, and take a shower. Once everyone’s creative juices began flowing and students became comfortable with one another, they were willing to engage in the reading.
Young people have such great imaginations. If they’re constantly buried in mundane classwork then they’ll never reach their full creative potential. Tristan has found a way to teach core knowledge while inviting creativity, courage and confidence. It’s amazing to watch happen.
Learn more about Tristan’s venture at the School’s a Joke Website.