About 15 elementary school students listened to a story and made crafts on Wednesday afternoon as Hamilton County Schools introduced its first mobile learning lab.
The small bus is one of three labs that will serve K-5 students in the district. Teachers will conduct lessons in different locations within the community to supplement students' learning outside the classroom.
On Wednesday, the lab parked outside East Ridge Elementary School with East Ridge teachers Jennifer Defur and Rita Schubert setting up their lesson at the front entrance to the school. The teachers laid out towels and arranged craft supplies and decorations on two tables to engage students.
Defur told the Times Free Press that the mobile learning lab will travel to popular areas to conduct the lessons, about once a month.
"When we do this again, probably end of July, first of August, we're going to go to Food City or Walmart, we're going to pick an area outside of the school and set up there," Defur said. "We'll do a call out and have anybody in the Missionary Ridge learning community to come out."
After listening to a story called "The Dot," students created different art projects using a variety of media including paper plates, crayons, paint, marshmallows and candy. Defur and Schubert walked around the tables to assist students and transition into the next segments of the lesson, sometimes saying a word or phrase in Spanish followed by its English translation.
East Ridge Elementary is part of the Missionary Ridge learning community, which consists of 13 schools. East Ridge Elementary Principal David Cory said the school has a significant English learning population and that the lab's focus on Wednesday was language arts, reading and language development skills, along with connecting the school to the community.
"Depending on what the different populations are, some folks feel more comfortable coming to the school than others, and so it's an option for us to go out into the community to build some of those bridges," Cory said. "Also thinking too, coming off of COVID, helping people feel comfortable with reconnecting with their school for folks who've been doing distance learning and really having a stronger presence in the community for our kids and our families."
Contact Anika Chaturvedi at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6592.