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Teachers encourage ‘rockstar’ students

Suffolk Public Schools students have been taking their Standards of Learning tests in recent weeks, and elementary teachers, especially, have pulled out all the stops to make sure their students are encouraged prior to taking the tests.

Pioneer Elementary School teachers recently made their third-grade students feel like rockstars before taking their first-ever SOLs. The third-grade hallway had a red carpet and was decorated with guitars and stars. Students got to speak into a microphone and walk the red carpet before they took their first SOL test last week.

 Third-grade teachers at Pioneer Elementary School made ‘rockstar’ decorations to encourage students during the SOL tests.

Third-grade teachers at Pioneer Elementary School made ‘rockstar’ decorations to encourage students during the SOL tests. (Submitted Photo)

“I think it helped,” said Morgan Tayloe, one of the third-grade teachers. “They were ecstatic. Any type of that kind of encouragement goes a really long way.”

A fifth-grade teacher at Pioneer gave her students a letter that told them they are more than their test results.

Katelyn Leitner said her aunt in Maryland saw the letter online and sent it to her. Leitner personalized it for her class and gave each student a copy.

“The SOL test does not test all of what makes each of you special,” the letter stated. “The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you the way I do. … They have not seen your talents that I have. They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them, that your laughter can brighten someone’s day.”

Leitner, who is in her second year of teaching, said she also gave students similar letters last year.

“I heard about kids that threw up before the test,” she said. “We feel the pressure from them having to feel the pressure.”

She said the reaction from her students was positive.

Third-grade teachers at Pioneer Elementary School show off their decorations. Pictured are Ms. Bondi, Ms. Vesilicky, Ms. Carr, Ms. Bass, Ms.Tayloe and Ms. Bryant. (Submitted Photo)

Third-grade teachers at Pioneer Elementary School show off their decorations. Pictured are Ms. Bondi, Ms. Vesilicky, Ms. Carr, Ms. Bass, Ms.Tayloe and Ms. Bryant. (Submitted Photo)

“Some of my girls almost had tears in their eyes,” she said. “They ran up and hugged me.”

The boys were more laid back, but many of them still said, “Thanks, that meant a lot,” Leitner said.

She also had her students write encouraging words to themselves each day, she said.

“Even with the letter, they still come in shaking and scared,” she said. “But I told them one test doesn’t determine how smart you are. Smart is determined in lots of different ways.”