Featured Class: Preschool

Here at Tualatin Valley Academy, Preschoolers are engineers. They are scientists. They are musicians. They are artists. They explore the world around them through play, guided by a creative, interactive curriculum and an amazing staff of 3 teachers. 

TVA's preschool program is very popular with parents, and for good reason. Allison Moor, the preschool program director, uses a curriculum that challenges her students to learn while allowing them to be kids. The curriculum is dynamic and unique. They tackle one theme a month and learn about it through STEAM-based projects such as engineering parachutes out of half an Easter egg, straws and coffee filters, designing catapults and shooting pom poms from them to discover what makes the pom pom fly the farthest, using bread as petri dishes to discover why hand washing matters, creating 3D moon paintings with paper mache, doing baking projects and making jellyfish that dangle from the ceiling of the classroom. 

Topics taught include everything from the desert to the ocean to life skills. Not only do the students learn about the world around them, but they are taught about it through the lens of how God created the world they interact with. 

Another unique characteristic to Mrs. Moor's classroom is that she has incorporated wobble stools at all the tables the students work at. This allows kids to be kids - to wiggle and move while they work without being disruptive. It improves their focus and attention to the task at hand.

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The class is led by three amazing, patient and dedicated teachers: Mrs. Moor, Mrs. Werner and Mrs. Connell. They find joy in working with their students and are focused on teaching them not only academics, but how to treat each other and a host of other life skills as well. They take pride in getting to know each student and their family and are often heard asking about siblings, parents and family events. 

In addition to the class teachers, the preschool class has buddies from both third grade and sixth grade. They sit together in chapel, read together and do fun activities. This allows the preschoolers to get even more individual attention and helps the third and sixth graders learn leadership skills through mentoring someone younger than themselves. 

In TVA's preschool, kids are challenged to grow not just academically, but spiritually and as leaders as well. Creativity and critical thinking are encouraged. TVA's preschool cares for the whole person, and it shows!

STEAMing Ahead!

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During the last week of June, twelve TVA teachers and three of our pastors traveled to Loma Linda University to participate in an EXSEED conference. EXSEED (Excellence in STEM Experiential Education) "is an innovative and collaborative program designed to enhance integrated Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education in Adventist K-12 schools."

We spent the week in classes and workshops led by experts in science, technology and mathematics. Topics included Human Anatomy, 3D Printing, "Wacky Science", Advances in Cancer Research, Geology and Enrichment Topics for Mathematics. Visits to a medical simulation lab and a workshop with live venomous snakes kept the excitement high! We also completed assignments in groups of 3 or 4 that included recording video and editing it with sound and titles into a short 3 minute film that was shared with the whole group.

Our TVA teachers are excited about increasing our use of STEM activities in our classrooms. We already do many projects that are STEM in nature. From making catapults in Preschool to our Working Models class in grades 7&8 we already have many STEM components being taught. 

Our teachers want to include Art in their projects, which turns STEM into STEAM! This was a key part of one of the projects done in grades 5&6 last year where each student studied an animal and created a clay representation of it as part of their presentation.

Our ninth grade students will experience a problem based learning class this next year that will immerse them in the application of STEAM learning. We are excited about the future of increased STEAM learning at TVA and are committed to making it an important part of our curriculum.