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Eleven Professionals Inspire Students at Patton Elementary

Arlington Heights, IL – Third, fourth and fifth grade Panthers were on the prowl yesterday, for inspiration.

The Patton students walked into the commons and saw 11 professionals, invited by Kristin Maksymec, Patton’s Advanced Learning Facilitator, to give fast paced and informative presentations as a part of the SP*RK event put together to advance the Personalized Learning movement in Arlington Heights School District 25.

“We want students' interests to be piqued, without them feeling overwhelmed or getting too much information about a topic,” Maksymec said. “We are hoping that these presentations could spark new interests that may lead to further exploration in Personalized Learning, a new hobby, or maybe even encourage them to start considering different career paths.”

Personalized Learning is a 21st century movement in education aimed to tailor a learning environment toward the student. Personalized Learning is being supported by the Arlington Heights School District 25 Advanced Learning Facilitators and teachers across the district with different events like SP*RK.

The inspiration for SP*RK came from the organization Ignite Chicago. Maksymec asked presenters to give five minute, power point presentations, limited to 20 slides at 15 seconds a slide detailing their hobby or profession.

The presenters represented a variety of professions and hobbies such as an airline pilot, Mayor Tom Hayes of Arlington Heights, and even a professional banking researcher. District 25’s Resource Officer, Rick Veenstra spoke to the students about his passion for the Officer Friendly program, and a magician for Open Heart Magic showed first hand pictures of how magic can help improve the emotional health of children in the hospital.

Every presenter had a message aimed to inspire and motivate the students.

“Pick what you’re passionate about,” Jessie Sekiya of the Arlington Heights Historical Museum said, dressed as an early settler of Arlington Heights. “If you do that, work will not feel like work. It will feel like play.”

Inventor and electrical engineer, William Dubon, peaked the students curiosity through the vast and exciting world of creation and patenting.

“Anyone can be an inventor, you just need to show no fear,” Dubon said. “Always try new things and think from the outside in. Imagination is what we don’t know and that is when the best inventions come to life.”

A collective “awww” was heard from the student body as Betsy Berger of Merrick Pet Care stepped up to present. Berger’s message was aimed to show how social media helps market different companies and ideas; in this case, she uses pictures of cute dogs and cats to tell her company’s story.

“It was great that the students were able to see first hand how to think about social media in a different way than just as a social aspect between their friends,” Patton Principal, Eric Larson said. “I loved the entire SP*RK event. It had a wonderful flow and the kids were excited about it.”

After seeing 11 presenters in just over one hour, Maksymec is hopeful that the students left inspired and ready to tackle this feat of their own.

“Later in the year, we are hoping to turn this around and have some students try the same format,” Maksymec said. “It will be challenging, but it will also push them to think more critically and creatively about their presentations and practice their communication skills.”

Adam Harris