Palmer students listen to Sen. John DeFrancisco during a video conference at the school.
Baldwinsville Shannon Failmezger has connected Baldwinsville children with their government.
As a student in the SUNY Oswego Childhood Education program, Failmezger was student teaching in Mrs. Felicia Graham’s third grade class at Palmer Elementary School where students were learning about government.
Considering the topic is a highly abstract idea, especially for young students, Failmezger decided to create a connection to government that would be a lifelong and memorable learning experience for the third graders. She developed a multi-disciplinary unit highlighting social studies and writing lessons then held a class discussion about what government officials to invite to visit the class. They decided to invite Lysander Judge Charles J. Mantione, Mayor Joseph Saraceni of Baldwinsville and State Sen. John DeFrancisco sending each dignitary a formal invitation, which was a lesson in itself for the students.
Judge Mantione and Mayor Saraceni accepted the invitations and were able to visit the class and talk about their jobs. The children learned a lot from the men and were able to have their questions answered.
Unfortunately, because the New York State Senate was in session, Sen. DeFrancisco was unable to visit the class. However, Failmezger worked with the Senator’s office and Leslie Savage in the Palmer Elementary Library to arrange a video conference, which originated from Sen. DeFrancisco’s Albany office at 9 a.m. Thursday, March 15.
Sen. DeFrancisco talked to the students about his job and about the state government. He answered many of the students’ well thought out questions, which included “How does a bill become a law?” and “How many bills did you help to create?” One of the highlights of the conference occurred when Sen. De Francisco told the class about another third grade class that had asked a few years ago why there was not a Children’s Day since there was a Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Grandparent’s Day. DeFrancisco told the Palmer students that after discussions were held in Albany, an official Children’s Day was eventually designated and now occurs the first Thursday in every June.
Sen. DeFrancisco said he enjoyed speaking with the students as much as they enjoyed listening and asking questions. According to Failmezger, this was an experience that the students will not forget.
Consequently, after the video conference, Failmezger received a phone call from Sen. DeFrancisco’s office and learned the senator had decided to offer video conferences to other schools in his district because the Palmer conference had turned out so well.