Annual Giving

WOWs in Abundance Dazzle Corbett Prep Students
on First Day of School

Many of the activities on the first day of school incorporated the idea that education is a journey.

first day of school

The Mighty Monkeys brainstormed goals and tucked them into rockets for teachers to launch to the stars.

Aug. 20, 2014 (TAMPA, Fla.) – Teachers blended tradition and innovation for a first day that featured red carpets, rocket launches, scavenger hunts and more — all designed to set the stage for a school year of personal and academic growth.

The first day of school is always an active one at Corbett Preparatory School of IDS. Walk around the east and west sides of campus, and around every corner, you’ll find students engaged in lessons that fire up their brains and encourage collaboration. Teachers use brain-based research to design these hands-on activities, known as WOW moments.

Many of the WOWs that kicked off the 2014-15 school year incorporated the idea that school is a journey, and every learner brings his or her own gifts and talents to the experience.

The Middle School took on the big question of the meaning of life — and how it relates to sixth, seventh and eighth grade — as they brought to life their summer reading Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life through a scavenger hunt. The literary activity helped new students familiarize themselves with the campus and boosted teamwork among advisory groups as they tackled various challenges. Smiles were in abundance, and Middle School Division Leader Betty George said she was especially impressed at the eighth graders’ exemplary attitudes.

“The eighth graders were amazing leaders,” she said.

Across the street on the first day of school, the leaders of the east side of campus were earning their way into the exclusive penthouse — the fifth-grade classrooms. Corbett Prep’s new fifth-grade class met in the Grand Room to learn how to “RSVP” to gain a golden ticket to their rooms. They had to complete four quests for each letter of RSVP, displaying Respect, Success, Vigor and Perseverance during the activities. Fifth grade reunites the students who have been split between different classrooms, so the teachers wanted to make classbuilding a priority to set the tone for the rest of the year.

first day of school

A kindergarten relay encouraged students to fill “attitude buckets” in teams.

The youngest children eagerly embraced their WOWs. PreK3 learned about how flowers grow and what they need to survive as they planted their own flower garden outside their classrooms. PreK4 talked about transitions, likening their journeys to hermit crabs who outgrow their shells and move into bigger ones. Kindergarten discussed attitudes and learner profiles and how they symbolically can fill an “attitude bucket” with positive actions. Later, they worked in teams and enthusiastically cheered on each other during a relay to fill two real buckets with water.

Upper Primary classes with first and second graders set goals, shared dreams and spoke about the gifts they bring to the world.

The multi-age “Cool Cats” sang and danced to “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”to reinforce their motto for the year that they are “Cool Cats that Care.” The other multi-age class “Brilliant Bugs” paired veteran and new Bugs for their WOW. Together, students very carefully carried envelopes containing live butterflies outdoors. The students whispered their wishes to the butterflies and released them to take their wishes to the sky. The “Mighty Monkeys” had a similar mission, only they used rockets instead of butterflies. The students wrote goals for the year on paper and tucked them into rockets, which teachers Andria Petty and Vickii Johnson launched skyward.

Third and fourth graders also experienced many WOW moments. The multi-age “All-Stars” and third-grade “Navigator” classes read a story about a man who was told to gather rocks from a river. To his surprise, the rocks turned into gems. Teachers explained to students that the gems represented knowledge and the river was the classroom. Because everyone crosses the river eventually, students must take advantage of their time in school and gather all the rocks, or knowledge, possible.

The Navigator teachers arranged a scavenger hunt and asked students to work together to uncover clues and decode nautical signs to solve a riddle. The riddle led them to a treasure box of gems. The All-Stars received their colorful gems at the end of the school day, a reminder of their journey to discover and collect knowledge.

The fourth-grade “Going Places” class also framed education as a journey, using their travel theme to prompt discussions about how learning is sometimes fast and sometimes slow. They welcomed guest speaker Julio Piazza, the father of a Corbett Prep graduate and a current eighth grader, who spoke about safety and how cars operate, while drawing connections between the cars and the classroom. An art project stimulated creativity as students transformed imprints of their feet into paintings of cars to emphasize the uniqueness of each one of them.

Teachers carefully craft their WOWs for the first day of school to ignite a spark that will grow throughout the year and inspire enthusiasm and creativity. Students pick up on the passion their teachers have for education and participate in the WOWs whole-heartedly.

Callie Brown, a fourth-grade teacher new to Corbett Prep, said she was amazed at the level of student positivity and excitement.

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Founded in 1968, Corbett Preparatory School of IDS (formerly Independent Day School - Corbett Campus) is a fully accredited, nonsectarian private school located in Tampa’s Carrollwood neighborhood. The school serves over 500 students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and offers the International Baccalaureate program of study for all students. Teachers are endorsed in gifted education through a master’s level grant with the University of South Florida College of Education. Corbett Prep balances a dynamic, nurturing and safe learning environment with high standards and high expectations to develop a positive approach to life and learning. Corbett Prep has become recognized as an exemplary school with over 7,000 visitors observing and learning from Corbett Prep teachers. For more information, visit or contact the Admissions Office at (813) 961-3087.