North Summit Elementary draws up a winner
Lori O’Connor, principal of North Summit Elementary School, remembers why the pamphlet snagged her attention.
"It said something on the front about creativity," she said. "And creativity is huge for me. It’s one of the best parts, absolutely, of children and of most people. So that intrigued me in a big way."
The pamphlet turned out to be information about the "Champion Creatively Alive Children" grant Crayola, the crayon and art supply giant, was offering elementary and middle school principals throughout the country. Knowing her school has a strong foundation in art and creativity, O’Connor applied.
Two weeks ago, she found out she was one of only 20 principals in the nation to win the grant. North Summit will receive a $2,500 monetary prize and $1,000 worth of Crayola products.
O’Connor said that winning a grant based on North Summit’s efforts to foster creativity speaks highly of the school’s mission.
"The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that getting an award that has anything to do with helping children with imagination, creativity and what they need for the future is even more meaningful to me than even test scores," she said.
Much of the money will go toward arts and creativity programs for students of all grades. One activity that has already been planned is allowing the students to design, build and test cars on a magnetic track. O’Connor said that, at a time when educators are unable to predict the jobs of the future, adequately preparing students is all about fostering the skills that will definitely be necessary, such as creativity, collaboration and — in the case of the magnetic cars — design.
"If any principal is saying they know exactly how to prepare children for the 21st century, I would really like to hear more about it, because I don’t think it’s possible with how quickly things are changing," she said. " But we know design is a skill our children will need to have because it’s been needed forever."
As far as the Crayola products, they, too, will be put toward good use.
"I absolutely have to say that $1,000 worth of Crayola products is awesome," O’Connor said. "Our arts specialist, I know she can’t wait for it to arrive and see what’s there."
She went on to describe how crucial grants like the one from Crayola are for small, rural schools that often struggle for funding. It’s how North Summit’s arts program thrives, and O’Connor is thankful for the help.
"We rely on a variety of different grants to help us fund our programs," she said. "It’s a collaborative effort from the community, and it feels good to have so many friends to help us make good things happen for children."
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