Last year as a tenth grader, I was part of the integrated program with Mrs. Frasca and Mrs. Trongard and was able to take part in the new philosophy program that encourages others to open up to new perspectives. Mrs. Trongard stated that this program was started with the hope of, “fostering the natural inquisitiveness of young students and turning them into lifelong learners.” Mrs. Frasca added that the program was meant to, “build critical thinking skills from an early age.”
The program allows the integrated students to travel to Elementary School #5 and the Kindergarten Center to help the kids expand their thoughts and think in a different way. We were placed into groups where we would plan to read two or three short stories to the students, ask them a series of questions regarding the books and then have them converse with one another and know that it was okay if they didn’t always agree with each other. Usually kids at such a young age only know what they are told and aren’t typically comfortable to disagree with someone who is older than them or even with each other because they assume who they are talking to is correct. Mrs. Trongard stated that the program was also meant to “encourage questioning”. This program allows students to disagree if they don’t agree with each other and helps them expand on what they’re thinking and explain why they think what they think; respectfully of course. In addition, the philosophy program doesn’t only help the elementary and kindergarten students, but the high schoolers as well. We as tenth graders were able to have more developed and advanced conversations in class, which was most notable during Socratic Seminars. It also helped us improve the way in which we interacted with one another.
This year the leaders of the philosophy program, Mrs. Frasca and Mrs. Trongard received a ‘Collaboration of Excellence’ award from the New York State English Council for their involvement in the program. This shows the dedication and the interest that both teachers demonstrated in order to receive such an award. Mrs. Trongard and Mrs. Frasca both stated they felt honored to be recognized for their work in the philosophy program and would like to share the honor with their students. Mrs. Trongard stated, “I would like to share the honor not only with Mrs. Frasca but with all of my students who did a great job teaching philosophy and working with elementary students in the district.” And Mrs. Frasca added “…this award honors the hard work that our students have put into this program. We have seen our own students make great strides in thinking and speaking philosophically and questioning in order to understand their world better. Really this award recognizes their collaboration with us and with the students they are teaching. We are most proud of the way our high school students have been investing in the quality of thinkers in their community.” Congratulations Mrs. Trongard and Mrs. Frasca!