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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 working on art project


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.

Student wearing VR Headset


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

Melissa Barnes

Titles: Teacher, Technology

Melissa Barnes started teaching in Lakota in 1998. Melissa has a Bachelor of Science degree from Boston University, an Elementary Teaching degree from National University, and a Master of Education degree from Wright State University.

During students’ time in Technology Special, their learning focuses on several key areas and skills. One essential topic is Digital Citizenship, where students identify key strategies and rules to stay safe when they go online. Additionally, Technology Special develops key technology skills through mouse use and keyboarding units. Another fun unit is coding, where students have fun writing code and solving coding puzzles. Finally, second graders learn how to log into OneLogin and access their Google Drive. From there, they learn to create Google Docs and Google Slides to create projects to share their learning. Overall, in Technology Special, students have fun while learning various ways to effectively utilize technology in their lives.

Julie Egbers

Titles: Teacher, WonderLab

Julie Egbers started her Lakota teaching career in 2000 after 6 years in another district. She was a kindergarten, first, second, and third grade teacher before designing and launching the WonderLab (STEAM) program in 2018. Julie is certified in both Special Education and Gifted Education, allowing for accommodations for all children who enter the WonderLab.

The WonderLab is a place for students to develop their skills in creativity and innovation while focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM). Students will be introduced to building/architecture, nature, robotics/coding, sewing/textiles, tools, force/motion, wind, light and sound. Students are encouraged to tinker and wonder about the world around them while having fun in the WonderLab.

Leslie Herald

Titles: Teacher, Social Emotional Learning

Leslie Herald has been an early childhood educator in Lakota since 2000. In summer 2021, she worked with the Lakota SEL team to plan and write the SEL curriculum for this K-2 special. During their time in the SEL special, students will learn about the connections between their minds, bodies, feelings and relationships. Time will be spent learning about and practicing social skills, self-regulation, emotional awareness, growth mindset and health standards.

Angela Hott

Titles: Teacher, Music

Angela Hott has been an early childhood music specialist in Lakota since 2000. Angela has a Bachelors and Masters degree in Music Education.  

In music at Liberty, students explore sound, rhythm, and movement. Over the course of their K-2 experience, students will gain skills in rhythm reading, vocal training, dance/creative movement, and using classroom instruments.

Carrie Steele

Titles: Teacher, Physical Education

Carrie Steele started her teaching career in the Lakota Local School District in 2001. She joined the Liberty Early Childhood staff in 2018. Carrie has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and a Master of Education in Physical Education. 

In Physical Education at Liberty, students will learn about fitness and exercise in a cooperative learning environment. They will be provided with personalized learning and practice as they advance their gross motor and object control skills over the course of their K-2 experience. Additionally, students will gain confidence and develop resilience and perseverance as they build positive social skills.