Ken Paxton, speech and language therapist, posed a question to some Leal 3rd and 4th graders. Who are your heroes and what were their dreams? The students’ answers provided a rich mosaic of people from all walks of life. The project became more than just a one-time, class assignment. These heroes became the basis of the student’s visual art, writing, dance, and rhetoric. The process the teachers and students went through and their work will become a documentary that Mr. Paxton and his group of students, teachers, and community support have put together with the help of a City of Urbana Arts Grant.
The film project called “Heroes and Dreamers” will document the students’ work over several related-projects. The students in Greg Ballweg’s 3rd grade Spanish-speaking class room and Molly Headtke’s 4th grade English-speaking class room were reading “What Was the March on Washington?” by Kathleen Krull. With the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream,” speech approaching, the students studied not only the speech, but the events that lead up to the event and other people who were involved. Dr. King’s speech provided the jumping off point for the numerous projects. The concept what heroism is and who is a hero, the characteristics of a hero was discussed and that led to the question of who are the students’ heroes. These classroom discussions were also taken home by the students and they engaged their families in similar conversations. These discussions led to a diversity in choices of the students’ heroes. These lessons were also used in Maggie Kinnamon’s dance class, providing another creative outlet for the curriculum and lessons.