A presentation of a banner was held August 16th to formally recognize the partnership between Mercer University and Sagamore Hills Elementary School. Dr. R. Stephen Green, Superintendent, Mr. Marshall Orsen, DeKalb School Board member, and Mr. Trenton Arnold, Regional Superintendent, joined us for this recognition and celebration. Dr. Kelly Reffitt and Dr. Deb Rosenstein from Mercer University presented the banner and spoke of the partnership and benefits of working with pre-service teachers at Sagamore Hills Elementary School.
Sagamore Hills, Sagamore Hills, How Does Your S.T.E.M. Garden Grow?
It grows with an outpouring of loving support from enthusiastic students, dedicated volunteers, vested community members, and generous sponsors. This beautifully eclectic group makes for the best garden family…which I am so proud to be a member. Together we each played our parts in making the expected HUGE Spring Garden Planting more successful than imagined. It all began with having our tough, coarse soil freshly tilled into a loose, fine consistency. Mr. John Miller and Mrs. Lynn Douglas freed our Garden Club Member’s from this daunting task by taking care of it ahead of time. Then came an ENORMOUS herb, flower and vegetable plant donation from new Assistant Store Manager, Mr. Chad Meetre , and Store Manager, Mr. Shawn Brooks, at The Home Depot in Decatur. This gifting was enough to fill a vehicle trunk and cargo bed to capacity. Sagamore’s Head Custodian, Mr. Zellner, was kind enough to assist in the pickup and delivery process of these delectable items. We got beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes…YOU NAME IT-we got it, and then some!
miller tilling, tilling, home depot donation, custodian zellner
But, the excitement didn’t stop there. The ASA students and morning bus riders, along with creative support from Paraprofessional-Mr. Gardner and Kitchen Staff Members-Ms. Leonard and Ms. Shade, custom designed extra-large paint sticks to label each plants place in the garden. During the actual planting, our 130 plus Jr. and Sr. S.T.E.M. Garden Club membership took care of the gardening business at hand. Students channeled their energy into digging deep holes, perfectly positioning, gently covering and snugly patting each plant into their nutrient rich new homes in the soil. Seeing all of our garden beds over flowing with new life was a sight to behold.
kitchen staff labels, planting, garden beds
To continuously meet the watering demands of our thriving garden program we “have stepped up our rainwater harvesting game”. Or at least that is what Engineer and Georgia Tech alumnus, Mr. Richard Hanson, owner of Georgia Water Tanks and his assistant Eric said as they recently installed our 5,000-gallon Cistern. What is a CISTERN you may ask? It is a ginormous above ground rain barrel with pressurized pumping mechanisms. This amazing donation was made possible through our continued partnership with The Captain Planet Foundation and was funded by a grant from the Georgia Aquarium…we are taking High-Tech into the garden!
Having this Eco-friendly watering system totally aligns with the academic curriculum we teach (Ancient Greek and Roman History), S.T.E.M designs we create (Low-Flow Shower Heads) and environmental consciousness we foster (Reduce-Reuse-Recycle) in every grade-level at Sagamore Hills Elementary School. It didn’t take long for our inventive students to engineer a way to get the Cistern water to the more deprived areas beyond its reach…enter wagons and watering cans. Real-World S.T.E.M. application people!
Retired DCSD Teacher, Master Gardener and Sagamore Community Member, Mrs. Betsy Razza summed up the impactful experience best by paying this tremendous compliment to our program, “It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm of the children as they planted the vegetables. Sagamore Hills provides the children with a sense of accomplishment, ownership and an appreciation of nature.”
Many hands and hearts went into making this year’s Spring S.T.E.M. Garden planting an awe-inspiring success from start, finish and beyond.
Sagamore Hills is so lucky to have some of the best teachers in the world. We are sad to lose some of those teachers this year (2016-2017), but they have definitely earned their retirements. We asked the following teachers a few questions about their time as teachers and about their retirement plans: Diane Jackson, Janet Jasper, Suzanna Quinn, Geri Stein, Linda Menendez, James Garner, Ernestine Cooper, and Sarah Brown.
Why did you become a teacher? Who/what inspired you to do so?
I had two aunts who were both teachers that were role models for me. I saw how they enjoyed teaching and how fulfilling teaching was for them.
My parents were teachers, so it was in my genes.
My father taught for 37 years and was a huge inspiration to me.
When my children were in elementary school I began substitute teaching in Dekalb County. While I was substituting, several parents, students, and principals approached me and encouraged me to pursue full time teaching.
I can’t think of any particular person that inspired me to become a teacher.
I became a teacher because I just had a knack for it.
As the youngest in my family of five children, we played school over the summer. My siblings would never allow me to be the teacher. I started teaching my baby dolls and teddy bears. I’ve always enjoyed working with children.
It’s been so long, I don’t really remember.
What year did you begin teaching and where?
I started teaching in 1987 at Sagamore
I began teaching in 1982 in Monroe, LA.
I became a classroom teacher in 1991 at Sagamore.
In 2006 I accepted a teaching position at Sagamore in the third grade. I began teaching in one of the Learning Cottages.
I started teaching 30 years ago at Avondale Elementary.
I began teaching at Avondale Elementary School in 1988.
1987, in Florence County School District 3, South Carolina
Briarcliff High School in 1986
How long have you been teaching in Dekalb county? At Sagamore?
I have been teaching for 30 years, all at Sagamore.
22 years in Dekalb, 15 years at Sagamore
I have been at Sagamore for 30 years, first as a para and then as a teacher.
My position at Sagamore has been the only full time teaching assignment that I have had.
Dekalb: 30, Sagamore: 13
I have been teaching in Dekalb for 29 years and here at Sagamore for 18 of those years.
Since 1990. At Sagamore:12 years
Dekalb: 29 years, Sagamore: 24
Did you spearhead or participate in any new programs at Sagamore that you are particularly proud of?
I participated in the very first SciQuest camp and ultimately directed it for 6 or 7 years.
I started the SciQuest Summer Camp.
I coached the first LEGO Robotics team.
Started the first Garden Club.
I was the first co-director of the ASA program.
I was a coach of the first SeaPerch team.
Each of my years at Sagamore have included unique challenges and personal achievements. These include:
Creating an stimulating an active teaching environment
Conducting hands on science activities
Promoting a love of reading among all of my students
Creating a passion in my students to become effective writers
Helping to implement the STEM program
Endeavoring to instill in each of my students a sensitivity to their fellow students and empathy for others and to the world around them
I was in charge of the Rock Eagle and Jekyll Island overnight field trips for 5th Grade. In 15 years, I never lost a kid.
I am proud of Reading Bowl. It encourages the kids to read books they might not read otherwise.
What is your favorite Sagamore memory?
My favorite moment at Sagamore was when I was voted Teacher of the Year
My favorite memories are from when my own children attended Sagamore, before I ever got here.
The first day that I walked into my first classroom.
I have been blessed with many fond memories regarding the students, parents, and fellow staff members at Sagamore. I have particularly enjoyed seeing the lightbulbs go on when a child has had an exciting learning experience.
I love when we have centers and I can just talk and play with the children. That is when I really get to know them.
My favorite Sagamore memory was competing against the students in Reading Bowl.
Having my children come to work with me for a few years.
Seeing Mr. Garner’s classes in the library reading.
What are your plans for retirement?
I plan to attend as many tennis tournaments as possible, starting with the US Open in NY. And to spend time with my granddaughter, who was born May 1st!
I am retiring to be a full time grandmother (baby due in October)!
Traveling, gardening, relaxing
Ecclesiastes 2:14 says “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.” I have immensely enjoyed my journey as a teacher and I have loved this path with a true passion. I am off on my new journey or quest…I want to work on learning how to be a writer…write a book or maybe two. I also intend to chip away at my travel bucket list. Exploration of local biketrails is also anticipated.
So many….. plan to get to many of the National Parks then travel abroad. Relax, not set an alarm.
I plan to sleep in, read, and travel when I retire.
Rest, travel, spend more time with family, and working as a Consultant or Speech-Language Pathologist
I plan to learn to weave. I’m going on a cruise in Nov to New Zealand.
The 5k is a PEACHTREE QUALIFIER! Runners Fit Race Works will be timing the race, and the course is USATF certified.
Open to the public, the 5 kilometer race begins in front of Sagamore Hills Elementary, goes through the neighborhood, and ends on the track behind the school. All registrants will receive a commemorative t-shirt. All proceeds benefit Sagamore Hills Elementary.
Cost is $30 — 13 years and over (t-shirt included)
Cost is $20 — 12 years and younger (t-shirt included)
At the competition, teams were awarded for parts of their display, presentation, and research that stood out and deserved to be highlighted. The Whizzes received the “Professionalism” award. This means that all aspects of our team’s performance showed their skill and in depth knowledge of the challenge. They also mentioned our team’s respect towards each other, the judges and other teams and of course how much fun they were having.
Our team got to meet teams from Hong Kong, China, Mexico, Panama Costa Rica, Canada and all over the United States. Their success is due to their hard work and dedication. They represented Sagamore Hills well!
Team members included: Rylie Gardiner, Kirsten Gabriel, Dorothy Baldwin, Owen Flake, and Shorani Roy
SeaPerch is a program that teaches students robotics/engineering concepts, problem solving, teamwork, and how to create technical applications through marine engineering. Sagamore Hills Elementary School students were divided into teams, given two underwater challenges to solve using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) they constructed themselves, and tasked with the responsibility of completing an engineering notebook. Our students worked together to decide how to solve the challenges, each with their own role in the process.
At the end of the season, we joined other schools at the 2017 Regional SeaPerch Challenge. Our three teams exceeded all expectations and blew us away! Their teamwork was exceptional and played a huge role in their success.
Team Echo was awarded third place in their division. Team members include: Alex Coursey, Bryce Garrett, Lauren Gabriel, and Omandee Karunanayake.
Team Magnitude was awarded second place in their division. Team members include: Matthew Russell, Christian Tucker, Alex Klein, and Evan Hackemeyer
Team AquaBots scored first place in their division, first place overall, and earned a spot at the 2017 National Seaperch Competition at GA Tech. Team members include: Ben Zajac-Cox, Julia Barker, Kirsten Gabriel, Rylie Gardiner, and Holt Solomon.
(Front row, left to right): Matthew Russell, Reed Barker (honorary member), Julia Barker, Kirsten Gabrial, Omandee Karunanayake, and Alex Coursey
(Back row, right to left): Mrs. Dix (coach), Lauren Gabriel, Mrs. Garrett (coach), Bryce Garrett, Alex Klein, Christian Tucker, Rylie Gardiner, Mrs. Quinn (coach), and Evan Hackemeyer
Not shown: Holt Solomon and Ben Zajac-Cox