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Berry Middle partners with SRELC for 2nd year

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The second-year partnership between the South Rome Early Learning Center and Berry College Middle School launched on Tuesday, with middle schoolers helping the 3 year olds through a variety of educational activities.

The Berry students filled three classrooms the SRELC uses inside Anna K. Davie Elementary for the first of six engagements that are spread out over the school year. The 3 year olds will also visit the college’s Mountain Campus, where the middle school is housed, later in the school year.

Tuesday’s event had a pollinators theme — the middle schoolers have been studying related material — that culminated with local beekeeper Monica Sheppard bringing in a bee hive frame. The kids got an inside look at the structure and function of a hive. Sheppard even donned her bee suit and demonstrated how she uses a smoker to calm the bees down.

Lynne Manna, director of admissions for Berry College Elementary and Middle School, said the partnership has a focus on science and math, with an emphasis on hands-on and experiential learning. Working with the 3 year olds calls on the middle schoolers to find different and inventive ways of teaching, she added, while seeing their knowledge grow throughout the year. Some Berry students acted out what pollinators do using props, like flower and butterfly cutouts.

“There’s no preparation that can fully ready the older students for teaching 3 year olds, it’s just something they have to come and do,” Manna explained.

The center is operated by Berry College and is supported by partnerships with Rome City Schools and the South Rome Redevelopment Corp. Since the SRELC is an extension of Berry College, the partnership aims to make the young kids feel like they are a part of the school and its campus. Last spring, SRELC students visited the Mountain Campus for an Earth Day activity, which had the kids planting in the garden, exploring the orchard and did a nature scavenger hunt.

SRELC Director Teri Oberg said a spot has opened up due to a student relocating. Those interested in signing their 3-year-old up can contact Oberg at 706-232-4913, ext. 2960. Parents can also visit berry.edu/srelc to find the guidelines for the center and what’s needed for sign-up, along with the application, financial aid and enrollment forms.