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Project Team: Are You In The House?

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Are You In The House?

Mrs. Marella McConnell, Principal

Oversees the academic leadership and management planning of a K-4 elementary school of approximately 315  students.  Our school hosts a Autistic/Life Skills program for district elementary students in need of the special programming.  This year, we are adding immersion computer programming (Code To The Future) to our academic curriculum for students in grades kindergarten through fourth.  We are also in the beginning stages of implementing school-wide social and emotional learning via TEAMology, in conjunction with our School Wide Positive Behavior Support Program.  We are hoping to develop the whole child through multifaceted programming.

Mrs. McConnell is a 1991 graduate of the Canon-McMillan School District.  She is a graduate of Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia (1995) with a B.A. in Elementary Education and a minor in Specific Learning Disabilities.  Mrs. McConnell received her M.A. in Special Education with an emphasis in Emotional/Behavior Disorders from West Virginia University in 1996.  Thereafter, she returned to her high school alma mater, the Canon-McMillan School District, in 1997 to work as a special education teacher.  It was in 2002 that she earned an Administrative certificate: K-12 Principal from California University of Pennsylvania.  After teaching in the district with K-12 movement as a special education teacher, she received her first administrative assignment in a CMSD elementary school in 2003.  Through the years 2004-2010, she worked as a high school assistant principal where she secured nearly a quarter of a million dollars in grant money.  In 2010, she returned to the elementary program as a principal of Wylandville and Borland Manor Elementary Schools.  In 2013, her administrative assignment was changed to full time status at Borland Manor Elementary School. 



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The Intermediate Unit 1 Fab Lab

The FAB LAB of Intermediate Unit 1 visited Borland Manor Elementary School the week of May 21-25, 2018.  The mobile FAB LAB visit showcased creating and making for our fourth grade students.  During the visit, the IU 1 mobile FAB LAB provided a Pennsylvania certified instructor and the featured equipment including: a large computerized numerical control (CNC) router: the ShopBot, a 3D destop mill and scanner, a vinyl cutter, laser engravers, 3D printer and accompanying computers and software for designing, and programming and machines communication.   

The FAB LAB was situated in the rear of the parking lot, and students had instruction both in and out of the unit. The first FAB LAB project included students designing and laser cutting a book bag tag.  The culminating individual student project of the weeklong "maker" instruction was the designing, vinyl cutting and heat pressing of a personalized Silhouette design onto t-shirts.  Each student was gifted with the their t-shirt as a token of their new and exciting FAB LAB educational experinence. 


Jumping Jack Theater Artist Residency Project

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Jumping Jack Theater is co-founded by Rebecca Covert and Stephen Santa.  The diagnostic criteria for an Autism diagnosis includes qualitative impairments in social interaction, qualitative impairments in communication, and sensory processing disorder.  The Jumping Jack Theater program emphasizes the benefits of dramatic play fostering the following growth in students: rehearsal of social skill interactions that may be required or encountered in the "real world," experiential role playing from multiple viewpoints, sensory stimulation through kinesthetic learning, building meaningful interaction with peers, and the cultivation of movement as a viable form of expressive, non-verbal communication with others. Additional outcomes include an increase in student confidence and engagement fun, interactive, artistic play with drama, music, props and puppetry. As with any specialized programming, we aim to have students generalize their learning outcomes across all school-based and          community settings.  The company name originates from Mrs. Covert’s son, Jack, who has Autism and is nonverbal.  

Borland Manor Elementary School enjoyed a grant-gifted, five-day pilot residency for the Jumping Jack Theater program in the autistic/life skills support classroom. The success of the pilot program propelled the establishment of a 20-day residency in the 2015-2016 school year at Borland Manor Elementary School.  Our students have demonstrated gained confidence, creativity, and social engagement in our experiences with Jumping Jack Theater. The students and their experiences at Borland Manor Elementary School helped Jumping Jack Theater produce their first original theatrical work, The Light Princess.

In the 2017-2018 school year, Borland Manor Elementary School and North Strabane Intermediate School joined together and were awarded a sixty-day Long-Term Artist Residency Project through the Arts in Education Partnership with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.  We were excited to bring innovative and authentic opportunities to the Autistic/Life Skills support classrooms, and to empower students to explore while following the design thinking process with a creative team.  The original production being developed through this residency is titled, Cityscape.