Monday, July 22, 2013

Learning about arachnids with Sen. Tim Kaine at Westside Elementary School

Sen. Kaine reads and explains spiders/arachnids to kindergarten class.

Sen. Tim Kaine reads and explains spiders/arachnids to 1st grade class.

It started in the fifth grade classroom where students were first instructed not to make faces as media jostled for position waiting for Sen. Tim Kaine to arrive. No faces? What a bummer.

During the entire hour the Senator was at Westside Elementary School it was hard to tell who was having the most fun – Sen. Kaine, the kids or the media. In the 1st grade class media joined in guessing what were the other members of the arachnid family besides spiders. Dave Tate of WSET 13’s Roanoke bureau spoke up with a correct answer of a scorpion. Then with a lot prodding from Sen. Kaine he got a correct “tick” answer from one of the kindergarteners.

Having to spin a web to catch your food is “gross” said Kaine. Some spiders fish he told them. Do they use a fishing pole he asked. “Noooooo,” said the students.

5th grade Westside students eager to answer Sen. Kaine's questions.

5th grade Westside students eager to answer Sen. Kaine’s questions.

The fifth grade class eagerly raised their hands to answer questions about what leadership means – the main answer there was “setting a good example for those younger – they will look up to you,” said Sen. Kaine.  He talked about always having a good attitude -“a smile on your face.”

What does a Senator do was another lesson for the fifth graders. One answer was that a Senator deals with “a lot of paperwork.” In another classroom a student said it takes a lot of hard work to become a Senator. Anyone who runs for elected office would agree with that. Sen. Kaine was asked was it hard to be a Senator. He told them that “yes it was hard but it was fun too … some of the hard things are the most enjoyable.” That was said with no crossed fingers either.

Sen. Kaine told them he had ran but lost campaigns for student government “in elementary school, middle school and high school but it was good to try … it was important things for later.”

Sen. Kaine praised Roanoke City Public Schools for their substantial improvement in graduation rates and credited the “outstanding dedicated school board and superintendent (Rita Bishop). “It is all about teachers in programs like [RCPS+, a summer education enrichment program].” Learning falls off during the summer break and gives students without a computer at home a chance to keep up.

Sen. Kaine plays with 2nd graders Lego robots.

Sen. Kaine plays with 2nd graders Lego robots.

No testing for the SOL – “it is learning for leaning’s sake,” said Sen. Kaine. It gives students the chance to be more creative and have fun. He was particularly impressed with the 2nd grade room where they were experimenting with technology and Lego robots. The Senator not only observed but played with them too. The early introduction to math, science and technology (STEM) gives them a perspective that these courses can be fun too. They will be less intimidated by technology as they move up the grade level.

Sen. Kaine after visiting with the students said that he hoped that some resolution to the rise in student loan rates from 3.4% to 6.8% would find a solution with a “floating interest rate.” This has been one solution tossed around in the Senate – “some floating with an upper [interest rate] cap.”


Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Education, National, Politics, Roanoke City Public Schools

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