Seeliger Elementary School teacher Robin Kato-Brong’s fifth graders will be sending holiday cheer to area senior citizens with help from Miss Carson City Brianna Cross.
On Monday, the class put to good use not only their writing and creative abilities but their critical social-emotional skills as they worked in groups writing letters together. Cross provided a prompt on a whiteboard for them to encourage expressing their thoughts on paper about their favorite holiday traditions. Cross will deliver the students’ letters to the Carson City Senior Center to those who are without families or feel lonely at this time of the year.
Cross said she was excited to be a part of the project as an advocate for education.
“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime getting to meet all these big-brained kids,” she said. “It’s been a long time since I was in the fifth grade, but I don’t remember being able to write as well as these kids.”
Cross said she will also look forward to working with the Nevada Legislature during the 2023 session to address the opioid crisis and raise public awareness about its misuse. She said she would like to go to Carson’s middle and high schools to encourage students to avoid addiction and learn where they can go for resources or how to get help.
But as for her work on Monday in Kato-Brong’s classroom, she was overjoyed to watch them draw monkeys with Santa hats or to help with spelling.
“I’m no teacher,” she said. “A lot of them are just following the prompt. But one girl is drawing snowflakes, another was drawing a gingerbread man and another was drawing Christmas trees.”
Kato-Brong, working with two paraprofessionals in her classroom to answer students’ questions as they wrote their letters, supported the project as a chance to relate to Carson City’s older generation at Christmastime.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for our youth to find some kind of a connection to share with the elders of their community,” she said. “This is what good citizenship looks like. They’re happy to spread Christmas cheer.”
Academically, she said her fifth graders are doing well as they work to recover from the last two years after COVID-19 dramatically changed routines for her current class who were only second graders when the school district implemented its remote learning schedule for schools. Her students have been taking their regular Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), and Kato-Brong said she is very pleased to see her class is on par or doing better than expected at this time.
“They are doing well; they are definitely applying what they’re learning into their writing and you can see they’re getting creative,” she said. “I’ve been reading some of them walking around. They’re using some great, colorful language, sharing some personal favorite things to do around the holidays. They write freely.”
Kato-Brong has been teaching for 23 years, initially at first and second grades for 13 years before moving into fifth grade. She said her fellow teachers are working to accelerate growth to account for any gaps in academic growth that might have been lost during the pandemic.
“I think some of the big challenges with (these students) are seeing a lot of social anxiety,” she said. “That social-emotional learning is sort of taking a forefront and just helping them learn how to work in a group, how to work on a project together. They were a little lost because they were so isolated because academically, they’re picking that up just fine. It’s the social skills. They were not able to concentrate.
“Our kids at Seeliger are especially close because most of them have been here K-5,” she said. “Even kids who are new here, they slide in just fine. So, yeah, I really think they are their own little community.”
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