MNPS Voices: Shannon Nee, Fifth-Grade Teacher, Tom Joy Digital Literacy and Leadership Magnet Elementary

From MNPS

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Instead of a daily paper-and-pencil journal, students are using their computers; in place of a notebook in English, students are producing videos. Digital literacy prepares students for higher-education and careers, makes their work more accessible at home and supports their long-term inclusivity in society.

At Tom Joy Digital Literacy and Leadership Magnet Elementary, students are introduced to technology and innovation to develop the curiosity and skills needed to succeed in a digital world.

Digital literacy and leadership are not just integrated into one class but infused in projects and the curriculum. Shannon Nee is a fifth-grade teacher at Tom Joy, the sponsor of the digital yearbook club, a proud “dog mom” of two and a member of the staff-run book club.

Nee has watched her students grow into confident digital leaders, using tools like Flipgrid and Sway to express themselves. Sway is a digital storytelling app for creating interactive reports, presentations, personal stories and more. Flipgrid allows students to create short videos and record and share out their personal reflections.

“My students make Sway presentations after school and on weekends for fun,” Nee said. “They are really excited and love to practice their skills and show off their creativity in new ways.”

Tom Joy was awarded the Magnet Schools Assistance Program Grant in 2021. The federal grant develops and designs programs that promote diversity, increase choices in public education programs and strengthen academic achievement. But the grant fosters more than a school program — the theme becomes part of the students’ and teachers’ everyday work.

“The goal is to use technology to enhance our lessons, starting at the kindergarten level,” Tom Joy Principal Sandra Moorman said.

Nee’s favorite part of working at Tom Joy besides her students is her kind-hearted coworkers.

“Everyone I work with cares so much about these students, it’s hard for a student not to feel welcome,” she said. “The people we have here at Tom Joy are one of our greatest assets.”

Nee first taught and found her passion working at a dance studio in her home state of Massachusetts. The energy of the students and their desire to learn drew her in. She enjoys teaching fifth-graders because she feels their child-like want to learn combined with the need for independence and to communicate their unique point of view.

“Their individual personalities start to shine through; these kids are making the funniest faces at me while I teach,” Nee said. “They can’t hide their opinions or thoughts, and I love it. And our digital tools are just another way they can speak their minds.”

Attend Tom Joy

Tom Joy’s staff knows this is only just the beginning of their magnet program. They hope to become more fluent in their technology tools to use them seamlessly without extra support.

Spots are still available at Tom Joy Digital Literacy and Leadership Magnet for the next school year. Be a part of this one-of-a-kind program. All are welcome, there are no academic requirements.

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