For one local teacher, summer break doesn’t mean a break from learning. Yadkinville resident Betty Jo Moore is a sixth-grade science teacher at Wylie Middle School in Forsyth County. Each summer she finds an educational project in which to take part. This summer, she and her teaching partner attended the Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) institute in Florida to build their very own guitars.
“Every summer I like to do something kind of special in terms of professional development, so I always look for something unique, something I can bring back and kind of get the kids excited about,” Moore said.
Wylie Middle school is a STEAM magnet school, which means that science, technology, engineering, art and math are integrated throughout the curriculum, Moore explained. When she learned about the guitar building school, she knew it was exactly what she wanted to do this summer as sound is an integral part of the sixth-grade curriculum.
“We thought this would be really cool, be innovative and be artsy at the same time,” Moore said. “It really was screaming our names.”
Moore plays the string base and her teaching colleague Dave Delade plays the ukulele. The school’s motto is “inspiring innovative minds” so being able to combine both the creative process of building the guitar with the art was a perfect experience for Moore to bring back to her students.
She said that much of her classroom work is based around experiments and hands-on learning.
“They make a connection quicker if they have hands-on activities,” she said. “This is very, very hands on.”
In addition to just telling her students about her experiences and showing off her custom-built guitar, Moore hopes that guitar building could potentially become a project for students to do as well.
“It ties to every phase of the curriculum,” she said. “We had to do math projects, physics lessons, chemistry lessons for how to paint the guitar, it ties to every area of the curriculum.”
For students who may struggle with academics and wonder “how will I use this in real life” on a given subject, a project like this could be what connects the dots for students.
“This could be a really great way to keep those kids who are kind of on the edge about ‘maybe school is really not for me.’ We want to keep them excited. This might be one of those ways to understand how everything pulls together,” Moore said.
The staff already has seen Moore’s and Delade’s custom-built guitars and she said she knows her students will be excited to see it as well. Learning is a lifelong process, Moore said, and that, more than anything is what she strives to share with her students.
Kitsey E. Burns may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.