No matter your age or size, anyone can a difference when they put their minds to it. This is the certainly the case for the compassionate second-graders at Rock Springs Elementary School in Kingsport, and their Christmas mission to help the Kingsport Animal Shelter.
One day in Sherre Vaughn’s classroom, an idea came to the students: “What if we could grant the wish of an animal?”
“I believe it started because we have been doing a yearlong study of animals and their characteristics, traits and habits, their needs and wants. To meet the common core standards, we have been addressing many of them through animals. We talked about the movie, 'Annabelle’s Wish' – centered on animals and friendship – and the kids thought it portrayed a wonderful message and the true spirit of Christmas. One student mentioned, ‘It’s too bad we can’t make an animals wish come true,’ and we started discussing our options,” said Vaughn.
Vaughn contacted the Kingsport Animal Shelter, discovered they had a great need, and then an employee and volunteer came out to visit the students to kick off the second-grade fundraiser.
Austin Reed, a second-grade student, said he was surprised to see a dog arrive with the shelter staff. Victor, an adorable schnauzer, excited the kids and motivated them to make a difference in their community.
The visit also provided Vaughn the opportunity to explain the difference between a volunteer (not the UT kind) and a paid employee, which was a social studies concept for the children.
While this project is ultimately serving the animals at the shelter, Vaughn and the second grade teachers discovered a way to incorporate many of the common core standards into the Christmas project. It has led to discussing non-fiction reading materials about animals, in math they are estimating, discussing measurements, and graphing the different items coming in.
The gift of speech that happens in the movie, “Annabelle’s Wish” will lead them into a new science unit on sound where they will learn about tools to enhance the senses.
As Vaughn said, “It has snowballed across the curriculum and has been a very valuable academic project as well.”
The caring hearts of the second-graders are abundant as one in particular, Isaac Whitson, talks about how he used his own birthday money to purchase two large bags of dog food.
“I like animals and this project we are doing to help the animals live,” said Isaac.
The pride and excitement is bursting through the second-grade classrooms as they bring in items for the animal shelter.
“It was the students' choice to not do a student gift exchange, but to use that money to go towards items for the animals. It is just one example of the generosity of the student body at Rock Springs Elementary,” she said.
Both boys agreed they were most surprised to find out the shelter needed blue Dawn detergent and bleach, besides just food and cat litter. Austin summed it up when he said, “Pets are a lot of work but it is fun collecting for the animals at the shelter. It makes me feel wonderful to know I’m helping them.”