Manson Northwest Webster: ‘We think long-term’
Emphasis is on continuity; Project Lead the Way keeps kids engaged
MANSON — Some of the students at Manson Northwest Webster Elementary School recently got to learn about vibration and sound in a most interesting way: with two plastic cups connected by a string.
The students were able to hear each other from across the room.
The exercise is part of the Project Lead the Way, a science program the district received a grant to implement.
Principal Bret Larson said the project is a success and that the students are enjoying the learning process with it.
“When the bell rings the kids have wanted to keep on working,” he said. “It’s doing a really good job of engaging them.”
Started in December, the program is way to deliver hands-on science to the students.
“The kids are given a problem that they need to solve,” Larson said. “Then they have to act to come up with a solution to that problem.”
The program teaches the students much more than how to talk to their classmate across the room or making an airplane fly further.
“They work cooperatively with other kids,” he said. “They learn social skills on top of the good critical thinking skills.”
The program also meant a new way of learning familiar to the young students.
“We had to get iPods,” he said. “There’s no textbook.”
Each grade at the school currently has two units of the program with plans to add a third.
The elementary school staff has also received training in the Boy’s Town Social Skills program called “Well Managed School Training.”
Larson said the new program will complement their existing Positive Behavior Intervention Support program.
“It’s given us an additional way to teach social skills,” he said. “Not just skills at school but also skills that can be used throughout life.”
At the Manson Northwest Webster High School, students who have experienced the Project Lead the Way will find their science education enhanced and continued with the Gateway program in seventh and eight grade.
Principal Kevin Wood said it’s part of the school’s commitment to their students.
“They look at pre-engineering concepts, automation and robotics and basic computer programming,” he said. “Beyond that, our ninth- to 12th-grade students can participate in the technical challenge.”
In that program, students are given a set of tasks then have to design a robot to do them automatically. Their finished machines compete against robots from other schools in local, regional and statewide competitions.
“We opened it up to seventh and eight grade this year,” Wood said, with some pride.
District Superintendent Justin Daggett said what they have done with the science programs reflects their continuity goals.
“As an administration,” he said, “we’re trying to bridge the two buildings with streamlined programs and methods. It’s one and the same evolution. It’s not just in science, but in all areas.”
The Manson Northwest Webster School District enjoys a reputation of respect and admiration by many in the area whose students attend school there.
“The big thing for us is we make it work for the kids, we make it work for the staff,” Wood said. “It’s a friendly environment with everyone willing to help and go the extra mile. We’re going to do our best to make sure your child has the best education experience possible.”
“In this district,” Daggett said, “we’ve always had the ability to be proactive in how we do things rather than reactive. We think long-term.”
They also try to prepare their students for the types of careers that are going to be in demand in the future.
“There’s a big need for skilled labor,” Wood said. “We’re being proactive to give our kids the opportunity to prepare for those types of careers.”
The students also get to meet people who are out in the workforce during Real World Wednesday.
“We’ve had everything from a technical nurse to an actual graduate that’s a wind turbine technician,” Wood said.
The Fine Arts Department has also been busy. Its latest completed project is a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. mural in the commons area and a flower mural above the gym entrance.
The art work lends the school a welcoming and creative air.
“They also have work downtown and at the fairgrounds,” Wood said. “They’re helping to spruce up the town.”
The school has also added a weight training course as part of its health and fitness curriculum.
“It’s an opportunity for kids to learn lifelong skills,” Wood said.