By: Alicia Sands Lurry
Let there be light!
At least that’s what 25 kindergartners and one second grader at Morris Brandon Primary School declared this week, as they celebrated being named winners in the “What Light Means to Me” essay contest. Sponsored by Conyers-based Acuity Brands, one of the world’s largest lighting manufacturers, the contest encouraged students in grades K-5 to write about what lighting means to them.
In exchange, the winning classrooms received turnable, adjustable lighting for their classrooms to promote a calm learning environment and help improve students’ attention span. The winning students also received a plaque and a pizza party.
According to Tricia Foster, director of education market development with Acuity Brands, students in Dr. Yolonda Patterson’s kindergarten class wrote the most inspiring, creative essays among the 135 submissions the company received. Dr. Patterson’s students were the only kindergarten class to win the competition.
“Dr. Patterson’s class went above and beyond what we saw among other schools across the country,” Foster said. “Dr. Patterson engaged her students and taught them about light and the impact lighting has on the environment and learning. Studies reflect that light has a direct impact on helping students to stay calm, focus on reading, as well as help with mood and other behaviors. Our mission is to get this type of lighting in every classroom in the country.”
Dr. Patterson said she has studied brain-friendly classrooms throughout her 20-year teaching career. During the essay competition, she encouraged her 25 students to vote on whether they prefer dim or natural light over bright light. Of the 25 responses, 18 students voted that they preferred natural light.
“Lighting impacts children’s learning,” said Dr. Patterson, who keeps her room dimly lit. “Dim and natural light is the best light for assisting with cognitive learning and adjusting to different learning styles. It leads to a good, welcoming environment.”