A class for children about to enter kindergarten provided a preview of school and an opportunity for two Cal U grads to keep their teaching skills sharp, too.
Bridgette Jepson '15, a teacher at Pittsburgh Langley K-8, works with 5-year-old Bobby Novak on iPad mathematic programs.
Cal U’s annual Summer Educational Enrichment for Kids program added a Kindergarten Readiness Camp this year ,which attracted more than 20 new participants while enhancing the teaching experience for two alumnae.
Bridgette Jepson ´15 and Kelli Malarkey ´18 served as teachers for the new program, which covered a variety of academic and social skills.
Both educators knew of SEEK while serving as teachers at The Village, a state- and nationally accredited preschool based in California, Pa.
“I’ve always heard wonderful things about SEEK and was coming home (Bethel Park) for the summer and jumped on the opportunity,” said Malarkey, who earned her M.Ed. from Cal U and teaches fourth-grade mathematics in the Fauquier County (Va.) School District.
“We are just trying to give them a basis, a step ahead for going into kindergarten. This helps me stay sharp by working with the kids. I’m getting a feel for what they’re coming to school with and working on, which I will take back to my school this fall.”
Jepson, who earned a Childhood Education Pre-K to Grade 4 with Special Education degree, teaches kindergarten through second-grade students at Pittsburgh Langley K-8.
This is her third year teaching at SEEK.
“I look forward to experiencing a whole plethora of kids, and the little ones are my favorite,” she said. “Not only does it keep you sharp, but you realize the fundamentals that you need for them because you can really see differences between the kids that have been in childcare and those that haven’t, even from the basics of sitting in a chair and knowing how to hold a pencil.”
Jepson, who is applying for Cal U’s Ed.D. in Education Administration and Leadership, added, “This is one hundred percent positive for the kids, I love Cal U and this continues the great experience I’ve had here.”
Jodie Bonidie, Cal U’s academic events coordinator, is pleased with the new SEEK program.
“We have so many families that come to SEEK who have kids ranging from babies all the way to the end of high school. All of those age groups are looking for activities, so we thought it would be a great opportunity to expand the traditional SEEK program,” she said.
“Parents want their children to feel comfortable and prepared, especially when they are so young. This setting mimics what they will be experiencing at school and really gives them a jump start.”
Next year SEEK will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a “Decades” theme.
Jamie Gammon ´98 guaranteed her daughter would be part of the festivities.
Reagan Gammon, who will be a third-grader at St. Sebastian Regional Catholic School in Belle Vernon, Pa., attended SEEK for her third consecutive year. She was excited for the camp experience, still full of energy after participating in the 12-day Cal U Summer Theatre Experience, which culminated with a July 27 performance of Alice in Wonderland Jr.
“She is very excited when it’s SEEK time. I tried to talk her out of it after the theater camp, but there was no way,” said Jamie Gammon. “She loves it, comes home excited every day and can’t wait to share what she did like making lightsabers in their ‘Star Wars’ class.”
SEEK 2020 sessions will tentatively be July 13-17 and July 27-31. For more information email SEEK@calu.edu.