It is amazing how people who work with children and have a love for them can find ways to build their hunger for learning and their self-esteem.
Beth Sanborn, who taught in the Millard school district for 14 years, is now a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) coordinator and specialist at Girls Inc. As well as teaching, she uses bulletin boards all over the building to encourage the girls to reach for the stars. I could not imagine what I was about to see when I entered Girls Inc. in north Omaha and saw all of the decorated bulletin boards with different and encouraging messages for the girls.
Sanborn said, “One of the reasons I went into education in 1989 was to reach and teach all children in my classroom no matter what their struggles were. The other reason was to create amazing bulletin boards for the children.”
For the 14 years she taught fourth and fifth grades in the Millard schools, she created incredible bulletin boards. She especially liked creating unit bulletin boards for Nebraska history, art or math. More recently she used the boards in conjunction with the class website.
“I always thought I could reach the students’ interest and potential with creating a warm and inviting classroom using cool bulletin boards with bright colors or using popular movie characters or actual items that they could touch or use. I found that this did enhance my teaching,” Sanborn said.
After Sanborn left the classroom, she still had that desire to create and decorate. Her friends were blessed with creative birthday invitations and Christmas cards.
Then she was hired for the perfect job where she could use her teaching skills and bulletin board decorations for the betterment of the girls at Girls Inc. She knew the girls would need encouragement after attending school all day and then sitting another hour through her after-school program.
One of the first things Sanborn did was use her bulletin board skills, borders and fun items collected over the years to decorate the boards in the science room where she would be teaching.
Sanborn said, “What seemed exciting to the girls were the first bulletin boards they saw when they arrived in the room. It was the Official STEM Club bulletin board. It has each of their names, their pictures, and pictures of them participating in each week’s activities. Later, I acquired two more rooms for coding/robotics and the other more science/aquaponics. Not only did I make sure they saw themselves, I used the boards as interactive tools where they could add sticky notes or their work, or they could use as a teaching tool thanks to the large-sized circuits, robots, etc. they could see or touch.”
When the new part of the building was opened, it had three more bulletin boards on the main floor in perfect view of the girls, their parents and other visitors.
“The STEM boards located on that floor with the rockets, planets, stars and a black background with girls of all different ages on it were especially popular with the girls and their parents when they came in to pick up their children,” Sanborn said.
Sanborn told how Girls Inc. encourages girls to realize that they are strong, smart and bold and need to continue to be the rest of their lives. For Black History month she researched more than 40 high-achieving black women of all ages and from different backgrounds. She put as many pictures and biographies on a huge bulletin board that would fit. The girls could see and learn about strong black women over the years. It is an incredible board, and no one could fail to recognize the many hours put into designing it. She named the board “Celebrating Black Herstory,” a play on words.
But what is so beautiful are the different themes of the boards. There are boards encouraging good manners, good health, the power of words, pictures of contemporary women in business suits and other professional attire, choices of higher education or trade schools and striving to be better in every way.
She posts lots of pictures of the girls, so they can see themselves being successful in different areas of their lives. The time and talent spent on these boards are truly a gift to the girls and can be a motivating factor in their lives for years to come.
I’m sure the girls were eager to welcome Warren Buffett when he recently visited Girls Inc. After all, he is the epitome of a high achiever — a walking example of the many bulletin boards at Girls Inc.