From left to right, Holly Springs ES STEM Academy Instructional Lead Strategist Kim Moody and Cherokee County School Board Chair Kyla Cromer speak with VILLA participants Maria Riera-Palomeque and Maria Benitez about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) lessons underway in the classroom.
The Cherokee County School District’s VILLA parent academy program participants took a field trip to tour schools this week – complete with a school bus ride!
VILLA (Volunteer Instructional Leadership Learning Academy) is a free six-week program that offers participants the opportunity to learn more about the public schools in their community. In addition to classes with School Board and staff presentations on CCSD operations, participants take a field trip to see teaching and learning firsthand.
The parents began their field trip at one of CCSD’s Bus Shops, where they learned about the extensive training provided to all drivers and monitors; the high-quality fleet of regular and special education buses; and the ASE-certified technicians, who keep all of the buses running smoothly and safely.
The group then boarded a school bus to travel to Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy and Sequoyah High School, and at both stops they visited classrooms to see STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education underway; learned about safety and security practices and improvements; and had the opportunity to ask Principals, teachers and other staff questions about their roles.
Participants also saw effective use of instructional technology in action at Holly Springs ES STEM Academy, one of the elite group of Microsoft Showcase schools; and checked out Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) classes at Sequoyah High School, including its nationally competitive automotive and marketing programs.
The tour ended with a lunch catered by CCSD School Nutrition featuring school cafeteria menu items including homemade barbecue, fresh salads with homemade dressings, and for dessert: yogurt parfaits with fresh fruit and homemade gluten-free granola. School Nutrition Director Tina Farmer spoke about her department’s increased emphasis on fresh farm-to-school and high-quality ingredients that are nutritious and delicious; homemade recipes and the decreased use of pre-made foods; and increased choices to ensure students with dietary restrictions and food allergies can enjoy school breakfast and lunch, too.
Costs associated with the VILLA program are funded through the generous sponsorship of Credit Union of Georgia, a CCSD Partner. Class size is limited, with participants selected by application (the Class of 2019 application window will begin in May); classes are held in the fall and culminate with graduation at the School Board’s November monthly meeting.
The month of November is annually declared as Family Engagement Month in Georgia, and this year’s VILLA graduation date falls on National Parental Involvement Day, which is observed on Nov. 15.
CCSD Transportation Director Jim Georges answers questions about bus operations before VILLA participants loaded up on a school bus to kick off their field trip.
VILLA participants listen as Sequoyah High School automotive teacher Chuck Wilson talks about the career classes he teaches. The program’s Hot Rodders automotive technology competition team qualified for Nationals this year.