Purdue University North Central student Kelly Salyer is doing everything she can to gain experience that will help her become a great teacher.
Even though she is two years away from earning her degree in Early Childhood Education, she has taken on challenges that expose her to various aspects of teaching and working with professionals in her field.
This past spring semester she mentored PNC students in the Child, Family, School and Community Partnerships course, a course that she completed the year before. Students in this class are required to complete a service-learning project with an agency serving young children. As a mentor, Salyer counseled the PNC students as they planned, implemented and completed their service-learning projects. Her experience proved to be invaluable. Having someone of their own age and interests to offer advice and insights presented a unique learning experience.
And equally important, it gave Salyer an opportunity to share her knowledge and helped her to hone her teaching, communication, listening and planning skills.
In addition, Salyer applied for a grant from Indiana Campus Compact, an agency dedicated to promoting programs, services and resources to support partnerships between institutions of higher education and the community. Salyer used her grant to help students in the Child, Family, School and Community Partnerships course to purchase materials for their service learning projects. According to Dr. Mary Jane Eienhauer, PNC associate professor of Early Childhood Education, past students have had to contribute their own money to purchase the supplies necessary for their projects.
When Salyer was a student in Einsenhauer’s class, she applied for and received a $3,000 Indiana Campus Compact grant for her service-learning project as she helped build and purchase all a variety of gardening materials for the Valparaiso YMCA’s childcare program edible garden project.
“It was a very rewarding experience,” said Salyer. “It continues to provide learning experiences for the children in their care. I want students to come away from this course with the same type of experience I had at the YMCA.”
Salyer noted that Eisenhauer uses a metaphor of a pebble being tossed into a pond, creating concentric circles of waves as symbolism for students tossing pebbles into the ponds of the community agencies they serve to create widening circles outward as they help the agency reach further into the community.
“I mentored the students to develop a realistic solution to a challenge or need,” explained Salyer. “They were required to submit an application for a Pebble Mini-Grant to support their projects. The whole process was to show these future educators they will have a role and a responsibility in supporting the communities in which they teach.”
When Salyer was a student in the Child, Family, School and Community Partnerships course, she was designed her project around teaching youngsters how to plant gardens and grow their own healthy food. This past semester, she switched her mindset to working with university-aged students.
“Being a mentor reminds of my role as an educator. I have a responsibility to the community my students live in. There is a need in these communities for teachers to be positive role model finding solutions for these needs,” noted Salyer.
She works hard to ensure that she stays focused on becoming an effective Early Childhood teacher.
She credits her PNC instructors for aiding her success, “The PNC faculty and staff provides student with the support they need to complete their degree programs. The education department staff takes a personal interest in each student’s success. As a future educator, this has helped me to learn the importance of a personal approach.”
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