3rd grade teacher Emma Raine and principal Frank Patranella

Last week, students at Wallace Elementary walked into their school through doors marked “VIP only” while “paparazzi” cheered behind red velvet stanchions. The Lake Highlands Junior High band and LHHS Highlandettes performed, and teachers dressed as rock stars were checked by security guards in dark glasses. Kids conducted interviews then followed strobe lights into the gym to watch rock videos and eat breakfast. The “Rock Your School” event was sponsored by Get Your Teach On and designed to ignite enthusiasm in teachers and students alike.

“The goal is to inspire educators to think outside the box for different ways of teaching,” said third grade teacher Emma Raine, a graduate of LHHS. “We want to make students excited to come to school and learn from a different approach to an ordinary lesson.”

Rock Your School is worldwide, drawing schools from as far away as Australia and China, and Wallace was showcased on Facebook live, communicating with thousands of viewers at schools all over the world.

“We know kids learn more when they are interested and engaged,” explained Principal Frank Patranella. “I’ve challenged all my teachers to try something new.”

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Maggie Lamberth set up a glow-in-the-dark room, and I found robotics in the library when I toured the campus. A Lego space was set up for younger students, and a spot in the garden was busy with students raising their hands and answering questions.

Inside Kerris Willet’s third-grade classroom, the lesson was one- and two-step word problems, but the kids had pirates on their minds. Willet transformed her room into Treasure Island, and she had the eye patch to prove it.

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“These word problems are pretty tough,” Willet told me, “but my kids are pushing through because they’re having so much fun. The great thing about Rock Your School is it’s still focused on learning. We’re still doing the same curriculum, we just put a fun spin on it.”

Third-grade teacher Erica Hoyt, dressed as The Greatest Showman, agreed.

“It’s bringing together concepts the kids need to learn, plus things, like circus, they already know and love.”

Merriman Park Elementary also participated in Rock Your School.

Minions in the classroom

In the Glow Room

Frank Patranella, Kerris Willet and Erica Hoyt