CCISD Maintenance Dept. teaches students about science/engineering
By PAMELA GRANT
“It’s different because we have to wear masks,” said Malakay Drayton (9) about participating in Friday’s Ranger Reading Camp class. “It’s hot, but it’s worth it.”
Drayton and dozens of other children had the unique opportunity this Friday morning to learn about the CCISD Maintenance Department. Students went from station to station, learning about the science and engineering behind their jobs as well as getting to check out some of the large equipment such as the bucket truck, skidsteer, and backhoe (which the students were invited to sit on).
The demonstration was part of CCISD’s annual Ranger Reading Camp which is funded by a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) grant. The theme for this year’s camp is engineering and construction.
Drayton said that his favorite part was when each student received a pair of safety goggles at a rest station.
“I liked the one that told us about safety glasses,” said Drayton, whose father is in the military. “My dad builds tons of things and he uses safety glasses too.”
Drayton said that he also liked learning about all the things that the workers have to do just to keep a house or building cool. He said that he was glad that his parents enrolled him in the camp and that it is helping him learn to be a better reader.
Heather Peacock, Director of Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) grant, said that the 5-year, $1.5 million grant was awarded in 2016. Called Project READS, one of the main goals of the grant is to help improve literacy rates with military students getting priority. In addition to promoting literacy, the Ranger Reading Camp, also provides social and emotional support for students. Participating students also receive a t-shirt, backpack, and a book each day.
“Being a military connected student brings unique challenges,” said Peacock. “The biggest impact on a kid’s education is what they call transition—when they have to move somewhere else, and military kids do that an average of six times in their school career. They are switching schools, states, even countries…”
Peacock is hopeful that they will be able to continue running the camp even after the grant expires even if changes will need to be made. Although the camp is geared towards benefitting military dependents, it also benefits other students within the school with the next priority going to students who might need that extra nudge to help with their literacy or those with an economic or emotional need.
“It looks a little different this year because of COVID,” said Peacock. For example, all students wore masks and were asked to use ‘zombie arms’ to help them maintain social distancing. “I think it’ll be a good preparation for them for when they go back to classes in the fall.”
Jessica Bredwell, who teaches the active literacy portion of the Ranger Reading Camp, said that she hopes that all of the students will learn that reading is everywhere.
“We want to get them moving, but at the same time have them reading,” said Bredwell.
For example, students learned lyrics and read them while participating in a Drum Fit program. They couldn’t do as much this year with running or other things where it’s hard to maintain a distance, but her students have made up for it with a variety of fun architectural projects.
Bredwell said that she enjoyed Friday’s presentation by the maintenance workers.
“I loved the electrician station,” said Bredwell. “They have some very cool specialized tools that you would never realize existed until you are exposed to this. The tools that he has are so cool.”
“Electricity makes sure things are working,” simplified Victor Martinez for his young audience. “Every time you turn on a light switch or plug something in, it’s [electricity].”
“You have to read AND understand instructions. You have to read and understand blueprints,” said Martinez about the importance of literacy. “If you don’t read it and understand it the first time, and you get it wrong, then you have to do it again.”
Thomas Haire, in charge of general maintenance, said that he and the other maintenance workers don’t often get to interact with the children during the school year, but they were excited for the opportunity.
“We wanted to put something together for the kids…to keep them interested in what we’re doing while keeping it simple and keeping it safe,” said Haire. “It’s awesome to see the kids out here enjoying this, and all the guys like it…Any time that we’re asked to do it, we’re definitely going to do it.”