The chickens at Van Raub Elementary really do rule the roost. Drop by the school during recess and you’ll find a flurry of activity by the chicken coop as students check in on their favorite hens. While watching the birds’ antics provides plenty of entertainment, the school’s principal, Summer Gault, affirms there’s much more in play.
“We work hard to develop well-rounded young people, doing our part to help our students be their best selves daily,” she explains. Learning to care for the school’s chickens contributes to that goal.
As fourth graders, students can become “Chicken Tenders.” As the title suggests, they assume responsibility for the birds, under the watchful eye of teacher Laura Brace. New this year, students from the school’s Life Skills class joined the Chicken Tender ranks, extending the learning and leadership opportunities to some of Van Raub’s at-risk youth.
“Watching the smiles that the chickens bring to all of the students, even those that just watch and admire from a distance, has been an incredible experience,” Laura says. “But there’s plenty of learning too, as students gain experience in responsible pet ownership, animal advocacy and topics related to animal welfare.”
For fourth grader Josh, it’s just fun. “I like that we care about them, learn to protect them, clean up after them and give them comfort,” he says. “Plus, I’ve learned to become more responsible and how to lead without being a boss.”