Classroom teachers throughout America are rising to the challenge in preparing elementary and secondary students for the 21st century by creating learning environments in which students can achieve learning objectives such as “global awareness and technological innovation.” Bruce and Jen Hlavacek’s Intermediere star, the Westphalian gelding Weltino’s Magic, who under the Olympic rider Steffen Peters is vying for a spot on the USET Pan American Team, has stepped in to help second and fourth grade students in Silt, Colorado become globally aware and computer savvy. With the guidance of their dressage enthusiast teacher, Dee Stiers, these students have created a Fan Club for “Magic” to encourage him and his team on their quest to represent the USA in Mexico at the Pan American Games.
Dee Stiers and Jen Hlavacek, friends for many years, have supported one another in several horsey endeavors. Both support the dream to have a horse represent the USA in international competition. Both value education, and both are teachers. Stiers teaches at Elk Creek Elementary School in Newcastle, Colorado and also directs a Para-equestrian program called R.I.D.E. (Riding Institute for Disabled Equestrian) at her facility in Silt, CO. Jen Hlavacek is also a teacher who has taught Sociology at University of Colorado at Boulder for many years. So it was a natural outcome that when Steffen Peters and Weltino’s Magic threw their names in the hat as potential candidates to represent the USA, the teachers put together a lesson plan with international flair. Students in Stiers class in Colorado follow Weltino’s Magic’s competition schedule, write letters to his owner “Mrs. Jen” and send best wishes posters to Magic and his rider Steffen Peters. In response, Steffen, Jen and Magic send back results, pictures and even phone calls to update the students about their progress.
Stiers had one student who really did not believe that such “stars” as Magic and Peters would really communicate with kids in Newcastle. To clear this up, Jen called the class and spoke with him personally. In addition, Jen sends Magic’s ribbons to the class as well as signed pictures of Magic and Steffen. Following Magic through the qualifiers and beyond has helped kids learn. Stiers’ Fan Club lesson plan enables students to incorporate skills “across the curriculum” as valued in the educational community. Magic’s fans are using writing skills in writing letters, developing music appreciation in choosing a theme song “Magic Carpet Ride,” and studying geography as they follow Magic throughout California to Germany and onto Mexico this summer.
Thanks to Magic and his team; owners Jen and Bruce Hlavacek, rider Steffen Peters, teacher Dee Stiers, Magic’s Fan Club students are attaining 21st Century Objectives in the Classroom and having fun too!
(To learn more about how you can support disabled students who are learning and receiving therapy through horses, check out the R.I.D.E. Program on Facebook.)