Upshur County Schools pilot Italian early education methodology

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UPSHUR COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) -- A slice of Italy in the classroom.

The program has existed since World War II, but Upshur County Schools will be the first educators to use it in our area.

"The teacher is a resource and the students are building responsibility, self-confidence. They are exploring and learning things on their own and guiding their own learning with the teacher as a resource," said Janet Phillips, the principal of Hodgesville Elementary School.

West Virginia Department of Education staff want to pilot the Reggio Emilia Approach in North Central West Virginia. They awarded Upshur County Schools a $15,000 grant to bring the program to our area.

"We are just kind of learning as we go. But, we will definitely be looking more in depth," said Phillips.

Teachers will take a step back, using the classroom and group projects to teach pre-k and kindergartners.

"I believe this is going to make them better problem-solvers, better creators, better engineers," said Taylor Tenney, a kindergarten teacher at Hodgesville Elementary.

Teachers attended a day-long course earlier this year to learn the fundamentals. They began to introduce concepts into their classroom. Today, Mrs. McConnell's class put on a fashion show.

"The children have been learning about seamstress and sewing and fashion design. So they have designed their own outfits. We are using that inquisitive mind where they are getting to design their own outfit that they are going to model this afternoon. So that would be a Reggio Emilia type activity," said Phillips

Teachers and administrators are planning to attend a two-day course in Pittsburgh ahead of the program's full implementation next year.

"It is just going to provide our students with, I think, the best beginning years and the best foundation," said Tenney.

Classrooms in Hodgesville, Union, and Tennerton Elementary schools will pilot this program next year.