“It’s Genius Hour, Cottonwood Creek Colts,” Cottonwood Creek Elementary Principal Dr. Andrea Penny said.
Every Friday, learners start their day with 60 minutes for to channel their inner ‘genius’ and pursue a passion that makes the world a better place.
Talented students from kindergarten to fifth grade work on year long projects ranging from coding computers to growing plants in the school’s garden to feed others in need. Fifth graders Mia Brasseaux, Lauren Castle and Macy Baume prepare to spread joy through their love of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
“Our teacher helped us form a foundation called PB&J.” Brasseaux said. “It stands for People Bringing Joy. Basically what we do is come together once a month and make pb&j sandwiches.”
The girls’ inspiring teacher garnered the idea from watching the news, and brought serving mentality into her classroom.
“I watch the news all the time, and I saw kids helping others and project ideas and I was like what if I thought about something that is simple, and not expensive that we could share and spread the love, and so we thought of peanut butter and jelly,” Cottonwood Creek Elementary teacher Mindy Mauler said. “Then [Brasseaux, Castle and Baume] came up with different ideas, rounded up the materials, and now it is in their hands.”
What started as an idea from their fifth grade teacher for the class to pursue during the allotted “Genius Hour” time blossomed into a full foundation, with their service work supported by their peers as the year went on.
“We kind of tell the class what we need and then one person will bring the Costco giant cans of peanut butter and jelly and people will bring in bread loaves and knives, then we get a big piece of butcher paper and we will make the sandwiches,” Castle said.
The girls make the sandwiches for their teacher to distribute to the homeless around Dallas once a month. With all the planning that occurs for ‘sandwich day’ to occur, Mauler of PBJ is thankful for the opportunity “Genius Hour” gives the girls to work on their foundation.
“That’s why genius hour is so great it is a time where they can have and use that hour to do what they love which is helping others,” Mauler said, “Genius Hour is a time where they can focus on their passions.”
Although the operation is small, Brasseaux, Castle and Baume aspire for PBJ to spread through the school and hope that others join in on their delicious passion.
“Some people help us make the sandwiches but we are trying to be bigger so we can have more people know about it,” Baume said.