Cal U Students Volunteer at Literacy Event

Oct 08, 2021

Pre-service teachers plan activities for a literacy night in the Uniontown Area School District.

  • - Nick Gevaudan and Meghan Bittinger read ‘The Rainbow Fish’ to 5-year-old Patrick Weigle.

  • - Tommi Kodric reads a Halloween-themed book to 5-year-old Jameson Durst.

  • - Abbi Cook reads ‘Llama Llama Red Pajama.'

  • - Madalyn Cross, 5, makes a craft with junior Devon Latchum.

  • - Alyssa Hummer builds a craft with 4-year-old Rowan Clark, of Smock.

When a costumed Clifford the Big Red Dog greets you at the door, it’s going to be a fun night!

And it was, for preschool and kindergarten children in the Uniontown Area School District who participated in a literacy event Oct. 7 at Menallen Elementary School.

Pre-service teachers from California University of Pennsylvania provided lessons and activities centered around a “pets” theme.

The event was organized by Bonita Nesser and Heather Mazur, Uniontown Area literacy coaches, and Mindy Harris, district curriculum director. It was sponsored by a grant from the United Way.

“It’s a good event for our students,” said Dr. Rebecca Maddas, student-teaching supervisor and director of the Rutledge Institute for Early Childhood Education scholarship program. “It’s an opportunity for them to use their skills from their methods courses, and it also gives them experience interacting with parents and families.”

In all, 36 undergraduates participated in the literacy event, and approximately that many families attended.

“We have first-year students who haven’t had any field experience yet, because that doesn’t happen until their second semester. They were very willing to jump in, and the earlier the better for that!” Maddas said.

It was a good first experience for Mady Hallmark and Emily Versino.

“I love interacting with kids and helping them read,” said Hallmark, who is a sophomore but in her first semester as an education major. “I’m used to interacting with kids because I gave swim lesson back home. This lets me dip my toes into teaching without it being overwhelming.”

Sophomores Matalyn Howley, Jayde Rega and Paige Krupp were part of a group that planned activities related to a book titled Meet Me at the Zoo.

“We’ve been out on our field experiences, but this is a great additional opportunity,” Howley said. “It helps me to know which grade level I am most interested in.”

Parents appreciated an event designed to make reading fun.

“Sienna is starting to read, and we want to foster that,” said Rachel Caruso about her daughter, who is in kindergarten. “She loves activities and she loves animals, so it’s perfect.”

Caruso, who teaches math at Uniontown High School also recognized the opportunity for Cal U students.

“It’s a wonderful experience for them to interact with children and get that experience.”