December 22, 2010
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab
SRU projects inspire programs aiding veterans, soldiers
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. –Kindergarten through sixth-graders at Sharon City School District’s Case, Musser and West Hill elementary schools now know a lot more about veterans and giving, thanks to two special programs put together by Slippery Rock University faculty and SRU students studying at their schools.
A Veterans Day Family Literacy Event in early November, organized by three members of SRU’s elementary education/early childhood faculty as a learning experience for the elementary students, was the springboard for an SRU student-designed program that is providing holiday care packages to U.S. soldiers.
Christine Walsh, assistant professor, and Sherry DuPont and Marilyn Yensick, both associate professors at SRU, designed the original program as a way of teaching the important role of veterans. “Our [SRU] students got so involved they branched out to launch the gifts collection program,” Yensick said.
SRU education majors travel to the Sharon School District facilities each Monday and Wednesday where the three SRU faculty teach classes. The SRU students’ courses deal with elementary language arts, reading and social studies.
“We have use of a classroom for our program, and we have use of the entire school – kind of like making hospital rounds – so that SRU students can see and interact to the specific topic at hand. It really immerses the students into the school. If I am talking about content literacy in teaching social studies, we can visit a nearby classroom to see it actually taking place. If Dr. Walsh is teaching about how to establish a writing workshop, our students can visit a classroom where it is being implemented and interact with real elementary school students as part of the process,” Yensick said.
The visits are similar to teaching observation hours required of all SRU education majors before undertaking their actual student-teaching work.
“The Veterans’ Day program that launched the gift drive offered an overview of what it means to be a veteran and how we honor veterans. There were three additional centers, including one that provided an active timeline related to veterans and a smart board lesson; a creative drama center; and a visit to the school’s Writing Center where the youngsters wrote thank-you letters to veterans. The letters were delivered to local VFWs,” Yensick said.
That learning project stirred interest among the SRU students who then proposed the gift gathering project.
Students at the elementary schools donated packaged snacks, candy, socks, magazines, toothpaste, shampoo and other toiletries. Collection boxes were also set up on the SRU campus, then added to the elementary school student’s inventory.
Program organizers will now ship the items to the U.S. Troop Care Packages Program in Pasco, Wash., which will handle distribution to the troops. Students and faculty in the Sharon district and at SRU also had opportunities to submit names of family and friends serving in the military who will receive care packages.
“It was exciting to see our students, the elementary school students and their parents become so involved in the community service project component,” Yensick said. “Our students saw how excited and involved children in the whole school could be in learning,” she said. “And now the soldiers will benefit.”
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.