Making learning a Superhero adventure

Published 2:00 pm Thursday, February 18, 2016

AMERICUS — They are the red-caped crusaders of the Sumter County Early Learning Center, doing whatever it takes to make sure that each student’s first exposure to education is a positive one. Principal Lezley Anderson, Ed.D., and Assistant Principal Jason Reese will don their superhero capes and go from classroom to classroom to let students know that they, too, are superheroes when it comes to their education.
“It’s important for kids to know they have control over their own learning,” said Anderson. “Superheroes each have their own little powers to control their own destiny. We want the students to feel that they do, too.”
Walking through the halls of the school and seeing the superhero theme echoed outside all of the classrooms, one can also see how the concept has united teachers and administrators in a common cause.
“We’ve really enjoyed that theme, every single class does,” said Pre-K teacher Pamela Belcher. “Dr. Anderson has done a really good job integrating it into the school. We’re even superheroes disguised as teachers!”
Instructors throughout the school have used the superhero theme to emphasize a positive approach to learning, one that is both fun and empowering to the students.
“In the classroom, we want to know what they do, not who they are, and everyone has a chance to be a superhero” said Belcher. “They use superhero powers to make good choices with our heads and hearts, like being nice to our friends and helping others when you can.”
Para-Pro Nancy Hawkins points out how the superpower theme can help discipline a classroom.
“Sometimes the students want to yell, but it takes their superpowers to use their quiet voice,” said Hawkins. “It takes a real superhero to use their listening ears and look at their teacher when he or she is talking because they sit for prolonged periods of time and their attention span hasn’t yet developed. So we have to call on superpowers.”
Principal Anderson stresses the importance of the first two years of education in shaping lives.
“If we can make sure during these years we inspire their love and interest in learning,” she said, “they’ll be set for the rest of their educational years.”
Are there days when the imposing, six-foot, four-inch assistant principal is reluctant to don a red cape and go walking down the hallways at his work?
“Never,” said Reese. “I get more hugs and high-fives from the kids this way. It is a fun place to be and I enjoy coming here each and every day.”
It is an enthusiasm echoed by his principal, a former kindergarten teacher who moved last year from Sumter County Elementary School to the Early Learning Center when the schools were reconfigured. Her more petite frame of five feet, when next to Reese’s, suggests a different image than the sidekicks of Batman and Robin, Superman and Supergirl, or Captain America and Bucky; but the work of these superheroes is quite special — very different than others.
“I keep saying that working here is heaven,” said Anderson. “I keep worrying that I will wake up and find out it’s a dream.”