Return to Headlines

Tavares High Teaching Academy students plan literacy focused service project

TAVARES – Using the book “Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood,” Beautiful Music students enrolled in the Tavares High School Teaching Academy will work with kindergarten and third-grade students at Tavares Elementary on literacy skills.


The book, written by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, is based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, where art inspired transformation of a community.


In the Tavares student project, which takes place on Monday, Dec. 17, high school students will be paired with younger “buddies.” Together, they will read the book then rotate through a series of stations that include:

  • Beautiful Music, where they will make and play instruments;
  • Beautiful Butterflies, where they will see a video of the life cycle of the butterfly and make a copy of the life cycle on a paper plate;
  • Beautiful Freeze Dance, where they will incorporate creative movement;
  • Beautiful Mural, where they will create a mural like the one in the book; and
  • Beautiful Words, where they will build their vocabulary by adding new words to rocks for the Tavares Elementary rock garden.


THS Teaching Academy students This project was inspired by the University of Central Florida’s College of Community Innovation and Education’s (UCF CCIE) national Read for the Record event, which was held on Oct. 25. Read for the Record is an initiative described as America’s largest shared reading experience. It aims to bring together millions of people in schools, libraries, community centers and homes across the U.S. each year to highlight the importance of building early literacy and language skills. This year, “Maybe Something Beautiful” was the chosen book, and was donated to THS’s Teaching Academy students by UCF as a way to help students replicate this event with their reading buddies at Tavares Elementary.


“The Academy students have planned every aspect of the event,” said Teaching Academy instructor Bonnie Watkins. “They determined which activities were grade level appropriate, determined the supplies needed, formulated the lesson plan, and then created all the necessary materials.”


The goal is to help the younger students continue to foster a love of reading and to build language skills that will increase their likelihood of academic success.


The project will involve 310 elementary students and the 30 students enrolled in the academy (12 freshmen, six sophomores, three juniors and nine seniors).


The THS Teaching Academy launched this school year in partnership with the University of Central Florida. This unique partnership includes monthly visits from UCF CCIE Reading Instructor Marni Kay. Each month, Kay plans and co-facilitates sessions with Watkins that include lessons focusing on service learning with an emphasis on authentic literacy. Students in the THS teaching academy are learning strategies that correlate with Reading Education courses and similar partnerships that are occurring at the collegiate level. After high school, students who complete the academy may continue with their post-secondary education at UCF, complete internships in Lake schools, and are guaranteed a job interview with the school district, where they can start their teaching career.


“The project has addressed all of the Career Ready Practices, as well as more than 15 standards for their program, ‘Principles of Teaching,’ ” Watkins said. “It is my goal, as their instructor, that they learn by doing. I want them to have as many authentic experiences in classrooms with students as possible.”