Now, in his first year as an instructional coach, Ice is bringing his unique approach in the classroom to the Lincoln Elementary Performing Arts School, 930 E. Main St., where he will help his fellow faculty bring out the best in each student.
The Voice-Tribune caught up with the 2006 Ashland Teacher of the Year, Excel Award winner and the Gheens Innovation for Creativity Award winner to find out about his passion for learning and Lincoln Elementary, which just celebrated the grand opening of a new arts wing this winter as part of an $8 million dollar expansion.
What do you do at Lincoln Elementary?
My official title is instructional coach, so I work with curriculum and instruction with teachers to help make it the best possible.
What brought you to Lincoln?
I came (here) in July. I was at Dunn Elementary. I worked there for two years. I’ve been many different places throughout Jefferson County and even in Bowling Green. Susan French the principal – who I worked for at Field (Elementary) – was like, “I would love for you to come and be my instructional coach here at the school,” and I was appreciative of that and said yes.
How is Lincoln different from other schools you’ve worked with?
We’re a magnet school, so we take students from anywhere in the Jefferson County area and they need to have some type of love for the arts: to want to perform or dance or sing. (Kindergarten) through (third grade) get a smattering, is what Susan likes to say. They get dance, drama, vocal music, choral music and piano lab in the course of a week. And then, in fourth and fifth grade you hopefully know kind of where you want to be and then you focus on two specific areas.
Why has performing arts become a part of the curriculum?
While other schools and other counties are cutting the arts, we’re adding. And we have great community partners from Kentucky Center for the Arts, Louisville Youth Orchestra, the Louisville Ballet. They all come in and they support us. They do lots of after school activities, so a child can flourish here. You learn through movement and dance and you can stick with it more and hold onto that knowledge you have.
What was your experience like as a teacher?
My students (at Dunn) last year tweeted, so I won a Gheens Innovation for Creativity Award for that. I have a class twitter account, it’s called @MrIceClass. We have an LPAS one – @LPASLou – and we have Facebook.com/lpaslou. I wanted a way that students could communicate to their parents. Then it grew to let’s tweet to celebrities and see if they’ll tweet back, and then it grew to we’re going on a field trip, let’s tweet to the people that we’re going on a field trip with, tell them we’re coming and see what happens.
Did any celebrities ever tweet back?
Last year we were doing an invention convention, so all the kids created all these inventions and I said, “Let’s tweet them to the inventor people like Billy Mays Jr., As Seen on TV and Anthony Sullivan.” We tweeted to them and Billy Mays (Jr.) tweeted back and loved a lot of the ideas, as did As Seen on TV. I learned something immediately: “Twitter bomb” was the word, because when you have 24 students at the exact same time tweeting to one person, it gets them to notice.
What are you involved with outside of Lincoln?
This takes up a lot of my time. I’m very passionate about my education and job and kids here. That is my life. I (work with) the Boy Scout group here. I try to go to lots of different arts programs. I enjoy rock climbing. I try to do community type events, and I always do the mayor’s hike and bike.
What is your ultimate goal with teaching?
My ultimate goal is to be a principal in Jefferson County Public Schools. I can take what I’ve done in my classroom on a small scale of 24 students and as a principal I can take that to 500 students. The success that I had with my class, I can spread that success to a whole school.