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Our early childhood and elementary learners in grades K-6 participate in year-round daily specials. This daily rotation provides different learning experiences beyond core academics in the areas of art, music, physical education, technology, STEAM, and social/emotional learning.

Student in art class working on a self portrait


The early childhood and elementary art education program provides each student with a weekly hands-on experience in producing art, enhanced by the integration of art history, art criticism and aesthetic critiques. Art education classes at this level will encourage critical and creative problem-solving skills, as well as empathy for historical and contemporary works of art. 

Girl standing outside with sign that reads "Life is tough, but so are you."

Social Emotional Learning

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is part of the specials rotation for all early childhood and elementary students. Through this program, Lakota students acquire and apply the knowledge, skills and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals. They also learn to feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions. 

Student in wheelchair sitting at piano reading color-coded music and playing


The focus of the early childhood and elementary music education program is to introduce each child to the joy of music and  begin to develop a variety of music-related skills. Through singing, playing, listening and reading, each student will experience the various elements of music. 

Two smiling boys standing behind a table with a pyramid of cups

STEAM / WonderLab

For students in grades 3-6, Lakota's STEAM special combines Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. STEAM emphasizes innovation, design and aesthetics and engages students in interactive, hands-on learning. STEAM also connects learning across subjects through problem-solving and exploration to prepare students for success beyond the classroom.

For students in grades K-2, WonderLab is a precursor to the STEAM special and inspires wonder and curiosity. Students in WonderLab will explore materials and media that will prepare them for their future learning in Lakota's STEAM labs. 

man in suit leading gym class full of students

Physical Education

The mission of Lakota's physical education program is to instill a love of regular physical activity in students and motivate them to take responsibility for their lifelong health. As students participate in a wide range of games and activities, they develop their motor skills and a sense of fair play. In addition to teaching about healthy fitness levels, teachers provide instruction in personal hygiene and nutrition.

male teacher sitting at table with student working on a computer


Technology in early childhood and elementary education is vital in preparing students for the digital future. We teach 21st-century skills that are necessary to be successful in today’s world. The course teaches our students how to be digital citizens while navigating online content, curriculum resources and media. 

Meet Our Specials Teachers

Shelly Jerome

Titles: Teacher

Shelly Jerome began teaching at Cherokee as a STEAM teacher in 2018 and teaches at both Cherokee and VanGorden Elementary Schools. Previously she was a sixth grade teacher at VanGorden Elementary where she taught math and science. Shelly enjoys working with students on new projects, sparking creativity, and watching ideas develop and grow through the design process.

In STEAM, students use the engineering design process and curricular concepts to solve design challenges through a variety of lessons. They experience coding, robotics, CAD programming, and 3D printing. Students also build and deconstruct everyday items to investigate how things work.

Josie Schlachter

Titles: Teacher, Social Emotional Learning

Josie Schlachter started working at Adena Elementary in 2021. Prior to her time here, she worked for 15 years at Cherokee Elementary in Lakota, teaching ELA and health education to sixth graders. In the SEL (Social Emotional Learning) role, Josie works with all students in grades 3-6 to develop social and emotional skills as well as general health education. The core social and emotional health competencies that she focuses on include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making skills.

Josie also works with students on the importance of healthy lifestyle choices when it comes to proper sleep, nutrition, physical activity, balancing screen time, and substance abuse (using grade-appropriate content). Guiding students as they develop skills and strategies to gain resilience, a growth mindset, and a positive attitude are among Josie’s goals. She finds great joy in helping her students learn to be the healthiest, best all-around version of themselves they can be.

Jessica Wells

Titles: Teacher

Jessica Wells began teaching in Lakota in 2001 as a classroom teacher. She taught all grade levels from kindergarten through 6th grade until 2016, when the Technology Special was created. Jessica has always had a passion for integrating technology into the elementary curriculum.

Jessica strives to develop students’ technology skills such as keyboarding, using Google applications, practicing internet safety and how to be good digital citizens, and understanding how their actions online can affect others. Within the Technology Special, students communicate digitally and express themselves creatively by using digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning while collaborating with others and working effectively.