Community Day held at Copeland Elementary School

David Broyles Staff Reporter

October 5, 2013

Copeland Elementary School’s Transportation/Community Day was staged Friday to get kindergarten students to relate real world experiences to curriculum in the classroom.

“We have a great kindergarten team. Everything they do is all about the students,” said new School Principal Sandra Scott. “Learning about how these jobs serve the community gives them background experience to help them tie real life application and 21st Century skills back to what they are learning through curriculum.”

Scott said kindergarten students at the school have a broad range of life experiences and faculty and teachers feel strongly about providing educational opportunities to everyone so they have a basis to build on. Some of the students hadn’t seen a firetruck before.

Groups participating in the Community Day included the Surry County Sheriff’s Department, which brought a squad car and the department’s tactical vehicle, Surry County Emergency Services brought an ambulance, Joe Layne of Layne Farms brought a large John Deere farm tractor, the South Surry Volunteer Fire Department brought a fire engine and Jerry Baugess showed students a 2001 Corvette convertible.

“What they learned today helped them establish a baseline of knowledge,” Scott said. “This entire school just blows me away with all they have going on. It’s a great community with great support and it’s a privilege to be a part of this.”

Community Day Coordinators for the event, which hadn’t been done at Copeland for several years, were Emily Akers, Donna Journey and Sarah McHone. Forty-nine kindergarten students participated.

“The loved the (tactical) Hummer and the fact it’s made from granite. That amazed them. Because we are in a rural community several of the students could immediately relate to the tractor and said they can drive one themselves,” said Akers. “When we’re touring the vehicles and the topic brings something into their minds you can just see them making the connections. Everything we do goes across several subjects like writing, language arts, social studies.”

Various school employees as well as teachers talked to students about their jobs leading up to Friday. Journey and McHone said they enjoyed seeing personal connections made between the students and participants, especially the deputies, because some students had told them before the Community Day they were frightened of police officers.

“When the officer let them get into his car and gave them sheriff’s badge stickers you could see them connect,” said Journey. She said one child asked the officers if a sniper could fit in the tactical vehicle. Another student, who did not ever remember being in a hospital, had County Emergency Medical Services Paramedic Nathan Gunter explain the concept to him using the ambulance’s devices as a guide.

The three said another important part of the day was Renfro Corp. Pilot Mark Hege’s talk to them about his job. Hege wore his pilot’s uniform and brought a model of an airplane with him as he talked about his work and the particular aircraft he flies. They said students were struck by how fast planes can travel to their destinations. Hege’s wife, Jeanette, is a volunteer and tutor at Copeland.

All three agreed the program is part of current educational trends seeking to encourage students to take more control of their learning and that teaching kindergarten has always involved a lot of modeling of behaviors which is also being emphasized at higher grade levels.

Reach David Broyles at or 336-719-1952.