Community Partnership In Action – How Students Are Making an Impact

Community Partnership In Action – How Students Are Making an Impact

Bulletin board at Jane Ryan Elementary School

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” bulletin board, created by school counseling students, at Jane Ryan Elementary School

Educational studies and school counseling students are making a difference at Black Rock and Jane Ryan Elementary Schools.

Aligning with Fairfield’s Jesuit mission, to share with its neighbors its resources and expertise for the betterment of the community, GSEAP faculty have partnered with local schools to give Fairfield students the opportunity to put into practice the skills they are learning in the classroom. Terri Germain-Williams, PhD, assistant professor of the practice and director of teacher education, has placed ten students in Black Rock School classrooms in Bridgeport to work with several classes, specifically on math fluency. This came in response from a request from the School for one-on-one math skills building. The partnership is one example of the work being done as part of the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development and Reform (CEEDAR) initiative, funded by the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE).

“I explained to my students that they didn’t need to be experts in math to make an impact,” said Germain-Williams. “One-on-one skills building is so important to reinforce what students are learning in the classroom, and to help those students gain confidence.”

In speaking with several of Germain-Williams’ Philosophy of Education students who have been volunteering this semester, several commented how appreciative the students are, and how excited they get when Fairfield students enter the classroom. One student collaborating with a second grade class worked with students in groups of four, and practiced math skills through a game using the children’s own creativity. Cassandra Fraioli ’21 explained, “The experience has been so rewarding. We’re working on specific counting techniques, addition, and subtraction.” Other students described how the Black Rock School teachers emailed them a topic and offered to let them teach a lesson to the students. Everyone agreed it has been an invaluable and fun experience.

School counseling students who volunteered at Jane Ryan Elementary School in Trumbull last semester had an equally rewarding experience. All school counseling students are required to do an internship, and although GSEAP school counseling students are K-12 certified, there is a lack of internships and jobs for school counselors in elementary schools in Connecticut. To remedy this, Stephaney Morrison, PhD, assistant professor of counselor education, worked with the principal at Jane Ryan Elementary School to develop internship placements for her students.

“There is a need for school counselors in elementary schools,” said Dr. Morrison. “Elementary school students experience emotional issues that may impact how they bond in their school community. School counselors are there to help bridge the gap and assist with transition, engagement, and bonding.” As Dr. Morrison described, it’s important to start speaking with students as early as second grade about potential career paths. Therefore when her students began preparing for an in-class project with all second grade classes, they decided to use Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” book which they used to discuss the children’s feelings about particular careers.


(top, l-r) Cameron Tallcouch, Megan Flavey, and Kaitlyn Blanchard (bottom, l-r) Nicole Flaherty and Jenae Staltaro

Pam Anderson, clinical coordinator and adjunct professor of counselor education, oversaw the internships and helped Fairfield students develop the lesson plans. Six students worked as a team and developed two lessons to present to every second grade class. During the first lesson, school counseling students read “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” to the classes and had the students reflect on what happened in the story and where they would like to go themselves. This then led to a conversation about how to define a career and the various careers the students were familiar with. During the second lesson, the classes defined what a strength is, and then discussed their own individual strengths. To complete the project, the school counseling students put together a colorful bulletin board to display the careers and strengths discussed with the second grade classes.

“By developing a guidance lesson for the second graders we were able to bring awareness to what the role of a school counselor is, while also engaging the children in a career-based lesson,” explained Alecsa Wecker MA’19, school counselor at Coleytown Middle School in Westport. “I found it incredibly rewarding and thought the experience was a great success. If we can continue to advocate for the importance of school counselors at the elementary level through projects such as this, I believe we will see school counselors in our elementary schools in the near future.”



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