For four years, Grinnell College has partnered with Davis Elementary School’s Talented and Gifted Program (TAG) to help young learners succeed. College professors and students team up with local teachers to plan and teach lessons aimed to enrich gifted students’ educational experiences.
Past lessons have covered topics ranging from social inequality to environmental science. This year, the students will be able to take classes on Historical Thinking, Anthropology and Political Science.
“Exposure to new people, new ideas and new concepts is so beneficial to growing, young minds,” wrote Gina Beck, K-4 TAG Coordinator and Teacher for the Grinnell-Newburg School District, in an email to The S&B.
In addition to learning about new topics, TAG students are exposed to new people from a variety of places through the partnership with the College.
“[Students] see people who are in college and get the idea that that’s a possibility for life, too,” added Melissa Melloy ’16, who co-taught a lesson about how economic advantages impact one’s ability to get ahead in the world.
Davis students aren’t the only ones who benefit from this program.
“It was really rewarding for me because these are important concepts that really resonate with different parts of life,” Melloy said.
During the lesson, the TAG students were each given a different hoop depending on how much fake money they could pay. Then they were allowed one chance to throw a crumpled piece of paper into their hoop. The students who got the paper into their hoop got a prize, while the others didn’t.
“It was profound and led to a great conversation about poverty, access to resources and services that people have based on finances, such as education, health care, housing, etc.,” Beck wrote.
Since its inception under the careful direction of Beck, this partnership with the College has strengthened and evolved. Originally, the partnership was developed by Beck along with recent Grinnell alums Jessica Gallegos ’15 and Adriyel Mondloch ’14. The three developed a multicultural unit in which they taught the TAG students about various cultural traditions. Since then, many more Grinnell College students and professors have planned and taught lessons for Beck’s students.
Looking to the future, both Beck and Melloy hope this unique partnership continues and develops. In addition to overseeing new curricular units taught by the College’s students and faculty, Beck noted that she “would really like to explore the idea of partnering with Grinnell College students on some project-based learning or service learning experiences.”
“I would hope that it gets to be more well known,” Melloy said. She encouraged anyone who wants to get involved with this partnership to contact Beck.
“It’s such a fun experience and it’s just great for everyone,” Melloy said. “Not only is it really valuable for the kids, it’s really valuable for the college students [and professors] as an experience.”