Kenton Teacher’s ‘Genius’ Idea Helps Students Shape Successful Futures

ch-kenton-david-van-sicklen-19-copyAurora Public Schools teachers are bringing the APS 2020: Shaping the Future strategic plan to life for every student, every day. Our dedicated educators are enhancing their lesson plans to ensure students create plans for the future, gain skills to implement their plans and earn credentials that will open doors.

One teacher, in particular, is sacrificing his time outside of school hours to help students pave a road to success. Meet Kenton Elementary School technology teacher David Van Sicklen.

In 2014, the innovative instructor established Kenton’s Genius Club. When the last school bell rings, student participants gather twice a week to freely explore, develop and share their passions. Each student determines their own project of interest and works diligently to produce examples of their learning. After demonstrating their new-found talent or skill, they embrace feedback to continue fine-tuning their craft. Projects span from coding to do-it-yourself projects, learning a second language and more.

“I’m the teacher, but I’m not the source of all information. This is an opportunity for kids to discover that they can learn on their own. These are not projects where students regurgitate information. Students are actually creating. I love seeing them grow and watching their light bulbs go off, especially when they figure out their own answers.” - David Van Sicklen, Technology Teacher, Kenton Elementary School

Students Embark on Digital Badge Journey
Kenton students are using the APS Digital Badge program to document the 21st century skills they acquire through Genius Club. After earning preliminary Journey Badges, students will aim to add the critical thinking Summit Badge to their profiles. Essentially, the badges will propel students in their future goals to apply their skills in the real world.

“I encourage students to pursue their interests outside of Genius Club,” Van Sicklen said. “Their passion shouldn’t be confined within these walls. I want to show students that their passion can turn into a profession.”