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Substitute Teacher Shows Creativity with Orleans Learning Center Students

Orleans/Niagara BOCES employee Adam Clause will tell you he basically grew up in a classroom.  “My mom is a special education teacher at Orleans/Niagara BOCES and I have been fortunate to have the influence of her coworkers as well.” 


After graduating with a History degree from SUNY Geneseo he has been working with his mother, Theresa Clause, at the Orleans Learning Center as a teacher aide.  When the school’s Multi-Occupations teacher retired in the middle of the school year, Adam was asked if he could step in until a replacement was found.  “Since I can’t use power tools with the students, I am not certified in that area, I had to really use some intuitive learning to try to keep the students engaged.”  Intuitive learning takes in information that is abstract, original and oriented towards theory.  Students are encouraged to look at the big picture and try to grasp overall patterns.  It involves discovering possibilities and relationships and working with ideas.  “We were talking a lot about shapes, like pyramids, cubes and how to construct things to make shapes.    We then started talking about how to take things that are fragile and put them together in such a way that they would be strong and be able to bear weight.” 


Using some creativity, Adam had his students make towers out of spaghetti and marshmallows and then see how many grams each tower can hold.  The students loved the project.  “It was cool to see the enthusiasm about doing the work,” says Adam.  “They were very excited to show off their end results.  It surpassed my expectations on how much they embraced the project.”   “It was really entertaining and was interesting building with spaghetti,” says Kaleb, one of the students.  His classmate Lisheen adds, “It challenged my mind during the building process!  It was fun comparing and contrasting everyone’s project with the directions because everyone made a variety of towers.”  Some of the towers carried as much as 631 grams and the students had a lot of fun competing.  One student Hayley says, “I liked seeing how much weight everyone’s tower could hold.”  Darold says he learned a lot of lessons from it. “I loved the project and it taught me how to build a solid foundation for a tower.”   Desiree chimed in that keeping track of each layer of the tower taught her about patience.


Adam says the next project will be building a balsa wood bridge.  “I have really been having a blast working with the students like this.  I am very fortunate that my mom and the other teachers have been giving me a lot of advice and strategies on working with the kids.  I really love working at Orleans/Niagara BOCES and with these students.” 

Group photo of class with tower of marshmallow and spaghetti

Girl holding sign in back of tower of marshmallows and spaghetti