School Turns to Superheroes to Motivate Students

Can superheroes unleash creativity in fourth, fifth, and sixth graders?  A Mansfield, Ohio school is finding out.

Arley Owens is the co-creator of Colunbus-based Earthshield Green.  He along with illustrator Rocky Johnson are partnering with Hedges Intermediate School in a pilot educational program they hope to expand nationally.  The program kicks off January 4 with a school assembly and student workshops on good environmental stewardship like recycling as well as “how to’s” in cartooning and animation.

“We believe the impact can be tremendous,” said Arley Owens, co-creator of Columbus-based Earthshield Green with illustrator Rocky Johnson. “Our comic book series teaches the importance of good stewardship of the environment, while stimulating excitement for reading. At the same time we believe we will spark individual students’ creativity.”

The comic story centers on six young people, who develop super powers to protect the environment after nearly losing their lives to gang violence at a landfill site.  The plan is for four comic books annually as well as an educator’s guide to use in the classroom. Hedges students will create in on the creative process by making their own comic book as well as comic strips and posters leading to the 40th anniversary of Earth Day in April.  Owens and Johnson will work with students each Wednesday starting in January. Fourth-grade teacher Bernadette Redman said Earthshield Green offers something special for students beyond their regular classroom studies.

“We started with the state (academic) standards and connected them to this project,” she said. “This has huge potential to unleash creativity in students by giving them a chance to build on their own interests. You never know where something like this will take kids. “I also think our students will take a lot of pride in being part of this. When these gentlemen come in and work with us, our kids will love it. It’s all they will talk about. I guarantee it.”