"Roots Run Deep — Nurturing and Growing through Learning," a joint project of the Hayfield High School Cadet Program and the Mount Vernon Rotary Club, received the Virginia Department of Education, Office of Career and Technical Education Services, 2004 Creating Excellence Award. The partnership in learning was undertaken in celebration of the 2005 Centennial of the founding Rotary International.
The Teacher Cadet Program is designed to encourage able students who possess exemplary interpersonal and leadership skills to consider teaching as a career. A basic tenet is support for youth in the selection of vocation and the development of leadership skills.
Roots Run Deep is a four page tabloid newspaper for early elementary school children containing exercises designed to strengthen reading, arithmetic, writing and reasoning skills. Information about trees forms the subject matter of the exercises. A teacher instructional guide also developed by the Cadets supports the unit.
The 2004 Creating Excellence Award recognizes Roots Run Deep as an innovative strategy to teach research development and lesson planning skills that draws on community resources to develop and implement effective learning activities of early elementary age students.
"Trees, chosen as a topic by Mount Vernon Rotary Club because trees have the potential to live until the Rotary bicentennial, wasn't instantly exciting," said Marlene Free, Hayfield teacher. "Yet as everyone had to struggle with a new subject as well as a new method of presentation [newspaper format], a real appreciation and understanding of the value of collaborative effort developed."
Cadets and their teacher, Debbie Gordon, created and worked a subject matter research plan. Rotarians provided experts in age-appropriate horticultural based educational activities and newspaper layout.
The results however, were exciting.
THE FIRST LESSON using "Roots Run Deep" was taught on Arbor Day, April 30, 2004, at Island Creek Elementary School by one of the teacher cadets. Rotarians provided the Kousa dogwood, which was planted by students, their families, teachers and Rotarians.
Two thousand copies of the unit will be printed and used in schools in Georgia and Fairfax County.
In August, Gordon recently recognized as high school teacher of the year by the Crystal City Pentagon Rotary Club for her work in vocational development, will speak at the Virginia Family and Consumer Science State Convention to an audience of 50 teachers interested in establishing similar programs in their school systems. The collaboration of "Roots Run Deep" will be the suggested prototype.
Teacher Cadets will continue to teach the unit in Cluster Five elementary schools throughout 2004-05.
And the Hayfield Teacher Cadet program, one of four in Fairfax County, will increase from one class with 20 students to two classes with 41 students.