Willow Bend counselor, Jessica Neitsch, said she presented a need for sensory boards to her principal in the fall of 2019. After researching the boards that are ready to buy, Neitsch and Willow Bend Principal Jennifer Pierce decided that they wanted to reach out to the high school and see if they would be willing to help.

“We really wanted to have something for our younger students for brain break time, or refocus time, and we thought it would be a great idea to keep a few sensory boards readily available for students to utilize,” Neitsch said.

After contacting FHS during the early spring semester of 2020, Neitsch said the project was stopped due to COVID-19.

“I contacted the high school again this year and asked if it could still happen and they said ‘absolutely,’” Neitsch said. “They started working on them this year and we now finally have them in our hands.”

Cassaundra Duran teaches the Early Childhood Development course at FHS. She said when she presented this project to her class, she made sure that they did all the research needed to really learn what a sensory board is and why it is useful for a young student.

“My students rose to the occasion and began research on what Sensory Boards were, their functions, and what made them fun,” Duran said. “The students were placed into several groups and charged with having to create a fun and budget friendly board. They were able to construct a blueprint along with a shopping list of items needed to construct their individual boards.”

Duran said her students creativity and thoughtfulness really impressed her. She said they learned that sensory boards are used to help a child focus his or her energy on something that can keep their hands and minds busy for a short period. She said her students also had to consider things that could be properly sanitized due to COVID-19.

“We purchased all sorts of gizmos and gadgets, push lights, locks, squishy toys, handles, Hot Wheels, Slinkies, small toys like xylophones that could be mounted, small Etch-a-Sketches, remotes, etc,” Duran said. “The items were things that students could touch or feel, fidget with, move around, and items that would allow for their tactile sensor development to take over.”

Duran said this project also gave her CTE course the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with another CTE course taught by Joseph Price, Principals of Manufacturing.

“I was able to speak to the students in Price’s class about my Child Development course and my students were able to learn about his class,” Duran said. “It is always a great time when we are able to educate our students on other CTE classes that they may not have known were available to them.”

Duran said she believes it is important for students to be able to learn, communicate and collaborate with other young people.

“It is important for our students to collaborate because that is what our CTE courses are all about – we are helping prepare them for the workforce, where collaboration, teamwork, communication, and understanding, are all a part of the real-world application that we strive to teach,” Duran said. “It is our goal as CTE teachers regardless of content to teach our Tigers how to work well with others and SERVE our community.”

Once the planning process was complete, the Early Childhood Development course passed their gadgets and sensory items over to the Principles of Manufacturing course taught by Joseph Price. Price’s students arranged and secured all of the sensory objects to a wooden board, while keeping in mind functionality and the ability to sanitize.

Frenship CTE Director, Amy Baker, said it was a memorable experience to watch the two CTE programs come together to accomplish a common goal.

“It was a valuable learning experience for those students involved,” Baker said. “Students were not only honing skills in their own content area but were thinking of others as they worked toward a final result.”

Baker said she would love to intertwine classes more in the future to encourage further collaboration and communication between content areas.

“I would love to see us try something like this again in the future. Part of the CTE mindset is that success emerges through collaboration with others,” Baker said. “The more we learn to rely on other campuses and departments for support, the more we live the Frenship way! When ideas, challenges or projects are met by the collective care of others, we accomplish big things.”