This spring, I had the unique pleasure of joining a class for their first walk with The Walking Classroom! I embarked on this experience with Janna Tolleson and her fourth grade students (AKA “Walking Wildcats”) at Wingate Elementary about a month ago.
A Few Words about Wingate
One of over 30 elementary schools in Union County Public Schools, Wingate Elementary is located not far from Wingate University in (you guessed it!) Wingate, North Carolina. Led by Principal Maxie Johnson Jr. for the past several years, Wingate Elementary serves nearly 600 students in pre-kindergarten through 5th grade.
Wingate Elementary received its Walking Classroom materials through a grant to Mrs. Tolleson in January of 2018. Mrs. Tolleson shares the materials with other members of the fourth grade team.
An Early Start
As the drive over to Wingate Elementary took about two and a half hours (and with the walk scheduled for 9 a.m.), my Monday morning had an especially early start! A few traffic delays had me getting to the school a little late, but thankfully, Mrs. Tolleson adjusted her plans to accommodate my arrival.
Although the walk had initially been planned for outdoors, the cool and blustery morning necessitated an alternate location . . . the school’s cafeteria! Once the principal directed me there, I encountered Mrs. Tolleson, her students, and several other guests from the school community and from the community-at-large.
Beyond the fact that they were smaller in size than the adults, the students were easy to spot . . . thanks to the very distinctive attire Mrs. Tolleson had created for them! The fourth graders were all wearing t-shirts, with expressions like “#smart” and “#healthy” written in the school colors (royal blue and yellow) beneath the phrase “Walking Wildcat”!
Ready, Set, . . . Walk, Listen, and Learn!
While they were waiting, Mrs. Tolleson prepared the students for the podcast she had picked (a perfect one for National Poetry Month!), Jack Prelutsky (4-#39, Combined-#38). As I walked in, some students were sharing Prelutsky ‘s poems by reading them aloud. When they concluded, I introduced myself and talked a little bit about the background of The Walking Classroom with the students and their guests. We then had a brief lesson preview before walking.
Due to the number of students and guests, a few folks had to pair up to walk, listen, and learn, This way, all of the seven or so adults had a student as a partner. I was fortunate to have a friendly and patient student named Dana as mine! Walking at a steady pace, we made our way around the perimeter of the cafeteria a number of times!
We followed up the walk with a brief discussion led by Mrs. Tolleson. A few more of Prelutsky’s poems were shared as the students and guests enjoyed a healthy snack!
. . . and Time to Go!
As the kindergarteners were making their way into the cafeteria for their lunch, we needed to head on out. I handed over the TWC swag I had brought along for Mrs. Tolleson and her students. And then . . . I got a little something too! Mrs. Tolleson had decorated a t-shirt for me to take back to The Walking Classroom!
After we quickly cleaned up the tables where the class had been sitting, I took some time to commemorate the occasion with some group photos, and then it was time for me to go.