Last spring, Seffner resident Robin Hughes, a special education teacher at Southshore Charter Academy in Riverview, taught a lesson about the weather to her students and realized that many of them did not have relevant knowledge when it came to the concept of snow.
With the help of her sister, Amber Estes, who lives in Danville, Kentucky, Hughes was able to get a small snowman named Lucky sent to her to show her students. “I literally got tears seeing the joy on the students’ faces when they saw and felt Lucky,” Hughes said.
Well, a lot has happened to Lucky since last spring. Hughes and her school’s principal, Amy Sams, went to Canada to share about the lessons from Lucky with a conference of 250 teachers.
“We met with renowned child psychologist Dr. Jody Carrington to share our story as well,” Sans said. “This year, the impact of Lucky will continue as we partner with schools in other states and countries to do virtual lessons to share about shells, sand and the ocean with them while they share about their experiences with snow, ice and mountains. Students will make new friends in foreign lands and have reciprocal learning with each other. We can’t wait to see what the future holds from this learning collaboration.”
Lucky was melted for Earth Day and his water was used to begin Southshore Charter Academy’s flower garden. Hughes and Sams also had a small vial of his water that was worn as a necklace. “We had a stuffed, felt replica of him,” Sams said. “The vial of water and doll traveled to the conference with us in Canada.”
The reaction of the conference attendees was overwhelming. “They, of course, see snow all of the time, so they were in awe of our students’ reactions to their first encounters with snow,” Sams said. “To see that something they take for granted meant so much to our students really caused them to reflect.”
The next steps for Sams, Hughes and their school is to partner with other schools to share cultural differences that impact academic understanding just as the lesson on snow did for their students.
“We plan to box up some seashells and send to a school in Canada and an Indian reservation in North Dakota,” Sams said. “Our students will Zoom into classrooms there to meet new friends from other places. Our goal is to help make learning come alive through collaborative educational opportunities.”
For more information about the school, visit www.southshorecharter.org.