July 28, 2017

Eric Parquet at Longfellow

LEADER OF A NEW SCHOOL — Eric Parquet, principal at Henry W. Longfellow Medical/STEM Middle School 28, believes learning should be fun. “I want children to go home and be excited to tell their parents about what they’ve learned each day,” said Parquet. Below, many of the books inside the media center are centered around the school’s medical/STEM curriculum.  

Principal Eric Parquet lives by the mantra that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. So he’s pulling out all the stops to grab the attention of the 371 seventh- and eighth-grade students who will enter his building on Monday, July 31 — the first day of school.

Through explosive science experiments and competitive tower builds using plastic forks, knives and spoons — all before 10 a.m. — Parquet is determined to show that the new Henry W. Longfellow Medical/STEM Middle School 28 isn’t your typical school.

“I want our kids to know that this school is different. We’re an interactive school and we need to set that tone from the time they walk into the building,” he said.

Being different and making learning fun year-round is the challenge Parquet has also extended to his teachers — especially during the first weeks of school. “If we make them excited about learning those first couple of weeks, we have them (engaged) for the rest of the year,” he said.

Luckily, the school’s curriculum lends itself to a different style of teaching. At Longfellow, science, technology, engineering and math will be integrated throughout the day, no matter the subject.

“Whether it’s an art class, foreign language, social studies or language arts, STEM will be integrated in everything that we do,” said Parquet. “But we’re also offering some innovative classes through Project Lead the Way, including Medical Detectives, Computer Science Discoveries, Design & Modeling, and Exploring Colleges and Careers.”

Medical Detectives, according to program materials, allows students to analyze genetic testing results to diagnose and study DNA evidence found at “crime scenes.” Students will also solve medical mysteries through projects and labs.

Longfellow offers a mix of hands-on, interactive and project-based learning, which Parquet believes is the most effective way to reach students. That includes having engaging classrooms that allow students to get up and move around, use manipulatives and display their knowledge of a subject in ways outside of traditional tests.

“Now, obviously, there’s a time when you have to explain something and the kids have to deal with that. But to stand in front of a class of 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds for an hour and just talk at them, that doesn’t work,” said Parquet.

“We have to focus on critical thinking, making them think about the information, dissect the information, unpack the information and then try to give it back to us. And they don’t always have to give it back to us in the form of a test. They can give it back to us in the form of a presentation or something they make, as long as they learn it.”