Channel 12’s Christiansen gives a ‘live’ weather class

PAHOKEE — Second-graders participating in Pahokee Elementary School’s International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program got a special treat Friday, Nov. 16. They experienced a science lesson that many of the children probably will never forget: a first-person tale of how much you can learn studying just one field all your life to the point where you become an expert.

For an assembly highlighting one of the six global themes of IB education, “How the World Works,” the youngsters that morning filed in to the school’s media center for a “live” lecture about weather from WPEC-Channel 12’s new chief meteorologist, Erin Christiansen. The West Palm Beach TV station’s audience for its Friday evening news broadcasts was certain to be larger by at least a few classrooms’ worth of kids, their siblings and parents — judging by the excitement in the room.

Ms. Christiansen was treated to a fitting celebrity-style introduction by a couple of the 6-year-olds, all caught on camera as their classmates applauded loudly. Her cheeks newly rosy from the rapt audience’s attention, Ms. Christiansen launched into her interactive talk with enthusiasm that you’d swear might be the product of previous teaching experience. Nevertheless, she didn’t have to work hard to involve the children in the lesson, as all those hands waving in the air made it difficult to choose whom to call on.

Lake Okeechobee News/Chris Felker WPEC-Channel 12 Chief Meteorologist Erin Christiansen, who took over for 42year WPEC Senior Meteorologist John Matthews in August, quizzes Pahokee Elementary International Baccalaureate World School students on Nov. 13.

The TV news broadcaster, who has 20-plus years’ experience, started out by letting the kids know she was new to Florida, having just moved here from Arizona, and she wanted to know how they thought the weather here differs from that in the Southwestern United States. There was no shortage of answers, and most were right on the mark. It was obvious these were some smart second-graders!

Their mission in the Primary Years IB Programs in Palm Beach County, according to Pahokee Elementary IB World School Coordinator Cassandra Moreland, is to develop “competitive global thinkers with high expectations at PES.” She said the staff continually work to prepare students to become “active, caring, lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others to be able to participate in the world around them.”

She explained that the program focuses on the development of the “whole child” through age 12, giving the children ideas on how to take control of their own learning while increasing their confidence and self-motivation.

“The holistic educational experience involves the parents, community and partners in learning,” said Ms. Moreland.

The kids taking part last week were studying the “Occurrence of Weather Patterns,” and Ms. Christiansen gently quizzed them on their knowledge of meteorological phenomena in Florida before allowing them to pose particular questions. A special guest was Pahokee Vice Mayor Clara Murvin, who sat at the front quietly observing and applauding the curious youngsters.

Those teachers whose classes participated Friday are Wilson Dominique, Yolando Harley, Carlos and Monshakeria Lammons and Leatha Sneed.

“Our second grade is the one that’s really active in bringing a lot of presenters in. They brought in the Pahokee City Commission and city officials who spoke with the kids about their particular positions,” Ms. Moreland said. That assembly was part of the IB “How Do We Organize Ourselves” component.

Then the children wrote letters to the city commission “letting them know the changes that they would like to see within the city.” Those letters are all displayed on hallway walls throughout the school; many of the projects the students produce are similarly displayed.

She said that even the pre-kindergarten kids are having some experiences now in the school’s IB program (“they’re new to the lineup,” she clarified) but the kids in kindergarten through fifth grade learn about more components, six as opposed to just four for the pre-K youths. They concentrate more on enhancing the older children’s educational experience, she explained, because the program has continuity in Pahokee, being in place also at the middle and high schools.

“At the end of the fifth-grade year when they do their sixth one, they do an exhibition where they actually bring parents and people from the community in, and they explain what all they learned,” Ms. Moreland finished.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment