Superintendent’s Spotlight: Liam Wiley


Superintendent’s Spotlight: Liam Wiley

March 31, 2023

Sanfordville Elementary first-grader Liam Wiley has been a landmark enthusiast and budding explorer since the age of three! His mom shared that Liam has always gotten excited to cross the bridge into New York City on family trips, eager to see the sites and specifically asking to pass by the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty. Two years later, Liam continues to expand his knowledge of national and international landmarks, and enjoys sharing it with family, classmates, and even his classroom teacher, Kitty Lowry.

“When I met Liam, he started telling me about his interest in landmarks right away,” said Ms. Lowry. “It is a true passion for him. “He’s always doing independent research on our district resources. He writes in his journal about landmarks. It’s a topic that really sparks his curiosity.”

Liam’s family encouraged his interest by helping him find online videos and documentaries and taking him on excursions to the bookstore and library. He receives postcards from family members who travel and collects them along with miniatures of places he has seen and wants to see. 

Liam has a collection of 3-D puzzles of spots including London Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, the Tower of Pisa, and the Burj Khalifa, and tells his parents and sisters about the history and details of them as they build them together. He also has a discovery globe – a detailed world globe that highlights geographic and political boundaries and features – to learn introductory information about new locales, and uses that information as a springboard into his own extended, more detailed research.

For that, Liam sometimes hops onto Google Maps and Google Earth to virtually visit landmarks online. Ms. Lowry said she feels Liam’s thirst for facts may have already outpaced some of the resources available to him, like PebbleGo, a great content hub for K-2 students that boosts engagement and fosters independent learning in core subject areas.

“We’re not necessarily doing geography in our classroom yet, so Liam is really exploring on his own outside of the first grade curriculum, which is kind of cool,” said Ms. Lowry. “In fact, I’m wondering if the information on PebbleGo might even actually be below what he already knows.”

Liam’s mom said their whole family has learned so much together through Liam.

“So much so that we took an all-American road trip earlier this year,” she said. “It was his love of Mount Rushmore and the US Presidency that [specifically] inspired that trip. We saw the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Arches National Park, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and Mount Rushmore. ”

Liam said his top three favorite landmarks he’s seen in person were on that trip.

“Mount Rushmore, the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon,” he said, using a small model of Mount Rushmore to illustrate his visit. “We were right here on this path named Presidential Trail. We could see George Washington, Tom Jefferson, Peter Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln up close. And at the Grand Canyon, it was, like, miles and miles wide!”

Right after the trip in September, Liam began lobbying for his parents to plan a trip to Washington DC. His efforts have been convincing, and the Wileys are headed south for spring break. Liam said the list of must-see places he has put on the family itinerary are the Washington Monument, White House, Capital Building, the Thomas Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, and the Martin Luther King Memorial.

“He’s also been working on convincing us how ‘cool and amazing’ it would be to see some of the European landmarks that interest him in real life,” Mrs. Wiley said, adding that Liam is now making the case for some international travel. “He’s already got his sisters on board with his plan and continues to work on us.”

What famous spots is Liam hoping to as a globetrotter?

“They’re all in London,” he said with excitement. “Tower bridge, the London Eye, and Elizabeth Tower.”

Ms. Lowry even shared that Liam is the one who taught her that the clock tower structure that houses Big Ben, was originally called St. Stephen Tower, and was only renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to honor Queen Elizabeth. With every new fact Liam learns about London, his convincing gets all the more persuasive.

“Let’s just say,” added Mrs. Wiley, “that we’ve all applied for our passports.”


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