Her love of children has drawn Joella Boggs, third grade teacher at Calvert Elementary, to two careers. After working as a pediatric nurse for thirteen years, Ms. Boggs returned to school to become an elementary teacher. It was a lucky day for students in Calvert County Public Schools (CCPS) when Ms. Boggs walked into a classroom twenty-one years ago.
Ms. Boggs has a sign in her room that reads, “In this classroom we don’t do easy. We make easy through HARD WORK and LEARNING!” Her growth mindset is evident in everything she does to encourage effort, achievement, and a love of learning. “I believe children should have choices,” she said. “What child doesn’t love to have a choice to do something that’s a personal interest?”
A recent CCPS initiative supports her philosophy of empowering children through choice and learning. GoQuest, an inquiry and project based learning online program, was instituted in all elementary schools last year as a component of the Advanced Learning Program in grades 3, 4, and 5. GoQuest features personalized instruction matched to student interests and learning preferences. Students begin by taking an online interest survey that generates categories of preferences for both content and expression. From there, students complete engaging units based on their preferences.
Ms. Boggs has been a district leader in the implementation of GoQuest since it was introduced last year. She has found that her role has shifted to being a facilitator of learning, and she believes that GoQuest allows teachers to use classroom time flexibly and efficiently.
GoQuest, she said, “motivates children who don’t have self-confidence. I’ve watched children become writers as they work through the unit that best suits their preferences, whether it’s science, history, or the arts.” In addition to practicing writing and research skills, students hone their speaking and listening skills. Her students’ families love it, she said, “because it promotes such excitement about learning.”
One needs to be in Ms. Boggs classroom for just a short time to see children thriving. Her enthusiasm is infectious. Her classroom has efficient processes to maximize learning time. She is skillful and knowledgeable. And children are respected and valued.
“Shine the Light” is a monthly feature about educators in Calvert County Public Schools.