“Everybody can be great…because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our students are great because they serve others. We build on the graceful, lovable nature of young children to teach them how they can make a positive mark on their world. To do this, we created a unique community service component to our curriculum: Lend-a-Hand. As much as we emphasize looking inward, we also think it is important for children to look outward. Lend-a-Hand curriculum teaches preschoolers through first graders to act with empathy and lead by example. Preschoolers begin to identify others’ feelings and devise plans to help people in their communities – their families, friends, peers. As they enter kindergarten, our students are taught how to identify a pressing need in our community and plan a service project to address this need. Some of our students have helped our homeless population, created care packages for soldiers stationed abroad, and made fleece dog toys for a local animal shelter. Our students realize they can use their strengths and interests to make their world a better place. In that realization, they can always be of service; they are always valuable. Magical Journey students stamp our world with their unique fingerprints, as they become changemakers in their communities.
Based on the findings of Carol Dweck, our students will begin and follow a journey into Growth Mindset. Our students gain an understanding of how they can intrinsically motivate themselves and their learning. Through social and emotional practices, our students believe it is "ok" to make mistakes, there are things they do not know "yet," and that perseverance and challenges not only build their spirit, but make life long learners. Through use of literature, role play and hands on activities, Growth Mindset is a special piece of our curriculum at Magical Journey Learning Center.
¡Hola! ¿Cómo te llamas? Most of us know enough Spanish to say ‘hello’ and ‘What’s your name?’ Unfortunately, for somme of us, that might be the extent of our second language. While it might be difficult for us to learn a new language, it is a beautiful gift we can still give our children. At Magical Journey Learning Center, we take advantage of the fact that children’s brains are hard-wired to quickly acquire language. Accordingly, we have partnered with Los Niños Spanish School to incorporate Spanish weekly into our curriculum for kindergartners, first and second graders sing, dance, and play to develop their second language skill. Preschool and Pre-K students receive Spanish integrated into their classroom. In addition to strengthening language skills, exposure to another language develops an awareness of other cultures. Our Spanish program serves as in important component to helping us cultivate global citizens.
Janet Collins, the director of Los Niños Spanish School, teaches our Spanish classes. She holds a Master’s degree in Spanish and has over 15 years experience teaching children. She has worked with Magical Journey since its inception. ¡Bienvenidos a todos los niños!
According to the Journal of Neuroscience, science has shown that when children learn to play music, their brains begin to hear and process sounds that they could not otherwise hear. Discerning between loud and soft, fast and slow, and high and low pitch, tunes the ear to the subtleties of sound. This translates into better literacy development; it is the subtlety of sound that differentiates the b from the d. To celebrate the joy of music, students will sing songs and learn musical patterns and rhythms through a variety of objects and instruments. Our music program also exposes children to different musical varieties, allowing children to discuss their feelings and how music evokes emotion. Students will be able to develop a greater appreciation for music, while learning the basics of reading music, becoming familiar with different musical instruments, and even learning some music history!
Kelly has a passion for music. She has been playing the piano since she was 6 years old, and often would have to ask her to stop playing so she could get other things done. She fell in love with the piano quickly and wanted to try out another instrument, so at age 12 Kelly learned to play the violin as well. Kelly has taught piano lessons since she was in high school and currently has a studio of students. She graduated from BYU with a BS in Exercise Science. The past few years, Kelly has been teaching music to children at her church. She has enjoyed working with these kids and has loved watching them develop an appreciation and passion for music. Music has the power to help children develop academically as well as socially. Kelly is married to her high school sweet heart, Brian Bowen, and together they have 3 cute, and busy, little boys.
Watching a baby try to grasp an object or a toddler’s wobbly steps, it is apparent they need to develop their gross motor skills. As children age and walk easily and begin to run and play, their gross development is not always the primary concern. Magical Journey fosters physical and motor development as an integral part of a child’s growth. To that end, movement is an integral part of our weekly enrichment program. Incorporating dance and yoga, children practice coordination, rhythm, and crossing the midline. Movements that go from one side of the body to another are necessary to throw a ball, but also heavily assist with academic skills such as reading and writing. Additionally, singing and dancing is just plain fun!
Leslie Swanson teaches our movement classes. A skilled dancer herself, she began her teaching career in 1995. She taught dance for sixteen years, showcasing many of her choreographed routines at national competitions. In 2007, she was asked to head the dance program at the YMCA in Ahwahtukee. Leslie has been specializing in young dancers, teaching at the YMCA, God’s Garden Child Development Center, and Magical Journey Learning Center.
At Magical Journey Learning Center the goal in physical education is to create the foundation of knowledge and physical abilities that will set the students up to lead healthy and active lives. In physical education the students will engage in a variety of activities designed to build both their motor and social skills in a fun and inclusive environment. They will participate in individual and group activities based on the national physical education standards. Over the course of the year lessons will advance as the students grow and learn more about being physically active.
This will be Danny Reardon's first year as Physical Education Teacher. He is currently pursuing his Master's in Physical Education at Arizona State University. Danny has worked with children of all ages for a few years in positions at after school programs, summer camps, and as a substitute teacher.
Shari Keith, B.F.A., M.A.Ed., is a teaching artist who uses found objects to create art. She will be working with the students of Magical Journey Learning Center to learn about the elements of art as they explore using materials in non-traditional ways to create art that is visually exciting, environmentally friendly, and a whole lot of fun.
Shari Keith holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a Master of Arts degree in Education. She is a former Highly Qualified Gifted Education teacher from the Kyrene school district and now works as a teaching artist, which she considers to be the best job in the world. Shari enjoys working with students of all ages and her greatest joy is providing a spark that ignites an individual’s creativity. She presents programs and artist residencies all over the state of Arizona, and is excited to be able to bring art exploration to the students of Magical Journey.
Shari has designed and created a series of workshops that revolve around the theme of “Transforming Junk into Treasure”. Employing found and discarded materials, her projects emphasize using analysis and synthesis so that students can explore using non-traditional materials in new ways to create art that is visually exciting and environmentally friendly. Her programs are designed so that students explore their own artistic voices, make design decisions and become more aware of discards in our environment; but most importantly, her students think that using junk is fun.
Shari calls herself “The Junk Lady” because she collects junk, decorates her home with junk, wears clothing that is recycled and creates art from found and discarded materials. Her artwork has been featured in galleries throughout the U.S. and her home décor was featured twice in the Arizona Republic. Articles about her work with students have been featured in “Raising Arizona Kids” magazine and “Art and Activities” magazine for educators. She has participated in many invitational art exhibits and was selected as an “INFLUX” artist to create a large installation for the City of Glendale.
Shari and her husband have lived in Ahwatukee for 23 years. When she is not teaching, she can be found creating new works in her home studio, hunting for treasures to share with her students, or getting together with her two grown sons and grandson.