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EWSD, Circus Smirkus team up to offer remote learning

Published: Dec. 19, 2020 at 5:37 AM EST
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ESSEX, Vt. (WCAX) - Essex Westford School District and Circus Smirkus are putting the “fun” in fundamental learning.

The two entities are teaming up to bring kids social and emotional learning skills over Zoom.

In-school circus classes are nothing new to Circus Smirkus. In fact, they’ve been doing residencies for over 20 years.

What is new is providing that curriculum over Zoom, and EWSD is the first school district to pilot it.

While many districts have nailed down how to teach English and math virtually, there’s a lot to learn when it comes to other areas.

Some of those areas include physical education, as well as social and emotional learning -- both of which are areas that this new circus class covers.

Students in kindergarten through 5th grade are taught learning strategies called Circus Secrets -- they’re a way to get the kids on the same page.

“There’s something for everybody, so some people might hate the flower sticks there are some kids who get frustrated there but they loved the plate spinning the other day or they’ll love juggling or juggling won’t be for them but they like feather balancing. So we find that there’s a diversity to it, everybody finds their place and everybody can fit in,” says Josh Shack of Circus Smirkus.

Over 100 kids have access to this circus class, and nearly half of them access it each week.

Shack says with each passing class, they are continually seeing achievements from kids.

While these students aren’t seeing their peers in person, they are still sharing the experience of learning the same curriculum. Jackie Tolman of the Essex Westford School District says they’ve gotten great feedback from parents, and kids are telling their teachers about what they’re learning as well.

“We are continually focusing on new and better ideas and taking what we know works for kids and building upon that. And bringing it to the remote environment. But feedback overall has been really positive about the model and work that we’re doing,” says Tolman.

Circus Smirkus plans to bring this program to other school districts as well in the future.

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