OUR DIFFERENCES MAKE US STRONGER
Special Education Teacher
When asked to describe a typical day at Citizens, Ever Fierro’s eyes light up, and without skipping a beat he says, “Busy!” This Fall, he spends his mornings with first graders, working on site words and doing station and independent activities to encourage students to work together as well as develop individually. He shared how much fun his students have making up “nonsense words” by putting blocks together to create words. This helps students work on sounding out words, but it also allows their creativity to flow. According to Ever, “It’s all about recognizing individual sounds in a word, and it’s all about building up the kids’ emotional confidence.”
What do you want the Kansas City community to know about Citizens and the work being done here?
Students learn best by learning with and from each other. The old outdated model of teachers just talking at kids doesn’t work. And it’s not going to work for this current generation of children. I think that at Citizens of the World - the way it’s structured as far as project-based learning and center-based learning - we get the opportunity to work in teams and in groups, and they are developing those social skills in order to be able to work successfully as a group, whether at the elementary school in reading group stations, or at the middle school doing math stations.
At the end of the day, if kids are working with each other and learning from each other, they will be more successful because they all care to hear from each other as much as they do from teachers, and it resonates more. If you can get kids to work together like we do at Citizens, you will see better results!
Can you talk about how you see your students work together on a daily basis?
Especially with first graders - their impulses are something they need to learn how to control, so we work on that together. For example, something as seemingly small as who gets the red marker at a station can be a big deal! I work with my students on sharing, being a good listener, and on being a leader.
I definitely think that there are tons and tons and tons of opportunities in their independent groups for leadership moments. It’s great to see students step up and be leaders.
At Citizens, we really focus on making sure our core values of Excellence, Diversity, Authenticity, Change and Community are embedded in all we do. Which core value stands out to you the most?
Diversity is the one that stands out. We have kids at all levels, including some with severe disabilities, especially at the elementary school, and everyone works together to support each other. We are all accepting. It’s beautiful to see that they can get along. I remember when I was growing up, it wasn’t always like that, but at Citizens it is completely different from what I experienced when I was in school. At Citizens, everyone supports each other and diversity is valued.