Watson Chronicle


Student Opportunities and Student News

Community Non-Profit Series is Offered at WCE

Monday, November 18, 2013

Deloris Rhodes' initiative in action, "Connecting the Community Non-Profits with Student Learning and Outreach"

This fall the Watson College launched an initiative titled, “Connecting the Community Non-Profits with Student Learning and Outreach.” Deloris Rhodes, Watson College Outreach Liaison, explained goals of the program. “Our future teachers will be working with an increasingly diverse population of students,” Rhodes said. “We want them to have first-hand knowledge of the work of community agencies and an opportunity to explore synergies between services offered by schools and outside organizations.”

Rhodes is collaborating with Watson College faculty and non-profit agency directors to bring presentations to WCE classrooms. She also hopes to find service learning and volunteer opportunities for students directly related to course initiatives.

Focus on Literacy

The series began in September with a focus on literacy, a topic of heightened importance in North Carolina schools. The Common Core standards adopted by the North Carolina State Board of Education in 2010 have a comprehensive K-12 literacy plan. The plan includes a third grade reading benchmark, and standards for integrating literacy across all subject areas as students move on to higher grades.

Cape Fear Literacy Council

Jeremy Hilburn, Diverse Learners, SEC 210 – Sept. 17

Cape Fear Literacy Council

Linda Lytvinenko, executive director of the Cape Fear Literacy Council (CFLC), says the number one factor in a child’s success in school is whether his/her mother reads, citing research conducted by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institutes of Health. Statistics posted on the CFLC website are shocking: an estimated 41 percent of fourth grade boys and 35% of fourth grade girls in the U.S. read below the basic level, and an estimated 20% of high school seniors can be classified as being functionally illiterate at the time they graduate. Here in New Hanover County, an estimated 14,000 adults function at a literacy level categorized as “below basic” and thousands more struggle with tasks such as reading maps and understanding information provided by a school or doctor’s office.

For the past 25 years, the Cape Fear Literacy Council has helped more than 3,500 adult learners through the dedication of an extensive network of volunteer tutors. More recently they’ve introduced a family literacy program working with adult learners on goals related to reading with their children/grandchildren in an effort to break the crippling cycle of illiteracy.

On Sept. 17, adult learner James Walton and tutor Mrs. Webb visited the Watson College to discuss the adult learning program. They said that the StarNews profiled James in a 2008 story that began, “James Walton’s boss called him an illiterate idiot.” Although Walton had been doing plumbing work for more than 27 years and knew more about the trade than most people he worked for, he was limited in his career advancement by an inability to read. Now 62, Walton credits the Cape Fear Literacy Council with helping him to change that. He says various reading strategies, and the patience and assistance of volunteers helped him to develop and advance his skills. Walton encouraged WCE pre-service teachers not to give up on struggling learners regardless of their age, saying, “Just remember me.”

Opportunities for Students:
Cape Fear Literacy Council has trained and certified more than 2000 volunteers to help adult learners.

 For more information visit www.cfliteracy.org

Canines for Literacy

Denise Ousley, Developmental Reading and Writing, EDN 352 – Sept. 18
Lisa Buchanan, The Teaching of Communication Arts EDN 348 – Sept. 26

Canines for Literacy

Pat Hairston and rescue dog Angel visited campus twice to introduce faculty and students to the Canines for Literacy program. Started in 2002, the program certifies literacy teams – made up of an adult mentor and their pet dog – to become reading companions for children. To date the agency has served more than 1,000 children in New Hanover, Brunswick and Duplin County through schools, libraries and community events.

Canines for Literacy, which works primarily with elementary school children below grade level in reading, has an impressive track record: 83% of participants have improved reading skills through the program. Other benefits include higher attendance on reading days and increased confidence. Hairston used golden retriever Maggie as an example to explain why it works. “For many students, reading aloud to a group and answering questions can be intimidating,” she said. “But when children sit quietly and read one-on-one with Maggie they aren’t just reading for a grade, they’re reading for Maggie.” Each mentor is trained to help build reading comprehension skills, for example queuing the dog to place a paw on the page when clarification is needed. “Students work hard to explain the story,” Hairston said, “Because they want to make sure Maggie ‘gets it’.”

Canines for Literacy is an outgrowth of Canines for Service, founded in Wilmington by Rick Hairston in 1996 to empower people with disabilities to achieve greater independence. Training service dogs is a long and intensive process, as they must learn upward of 90 commands. Training for literacy dogs, considered therapy dogs, is not as stringent. As Hairston explained, “their primary job is to get out there and give love.”

Opportunities for StudentsVolunteers are needed to work in the office and help out at events. The agency also needs Literacy Teams to work in local schools and libraries. Training and certification will begin in January. (To qualify, your dog must be at least a year old, well trained and social). For more information visit http://www.caninesforservice.org

Focus on Child Abuse and Neglect

Three community agencies visited WCE classrooms this fall to share their work in the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. Each presenter opened by saying, in effect, “I wish there wasn’t a need for the services our agency provides, but sadly there is.”

Child Advocacy and Parenting Place (CAPP)

Janna Robertson, Diverse Learners, SEC 210– Oct. 4

Janna Robertson, Diverse Learners Lecture

The CAPP Center’s mission is to be the preeminent community resource for preventing child abuse and neglect through nurturing, education, mentoring, advocacy and empowerment. Clinical Services Manager Evie Schulz explained, “At the Watson College you are learning to become a teacher. But parenting doesn’t come with a degree or a manual and some families don’t have the skills, resources and support systems they need to raise children. That’s where we help.”

CAPP works with more than 250 children and families using proven, evidence-based programs built around predictors of child resiliency and success. These include parental resilience, social support, food and other concrete forms of support in times of need, and knowledge of parenting and child development. Ninety-five percent of the families CAPP supports live below the poverty line and deal with stress on a daily basis. Schulz explained how this affects children. “Stress changes the brain. Highly stressed kids look like ADHD kids.”

Schulz gave what she calls, “The Brain Talk.” The back of the brain is designed for safety and survival and controls things like heart rate and the release of insulin, while the front of the brain controls thinking, creativity and problem solving. When children experience chronic stress, the back of the brain becomes over-activated. As Schulz explained, “This is helpful if you’re in danger and need to run to escape, but it’s a problem for students who need to sit and focus on work in a classroom.” So what should teachers do? “Consistency makes children feel safe,” Schulz said. “Demonstrate desirable behavior with consistent classroom management. And above all, have empathy.”

CAPP, called “the family place,” offers a number of programs where children, parents, and often grandparent-caregivers come together for a meal, then work on parallel tracks to build skills and develop networks of social support. Schulz advised WCE pre-service teachers, “It’s important for families to see schools as part of their social network. Our programs end in 14 weeks, but these children will be in school for years.”

Opportunities for Students
CAPP has an ongoing need for tutors, but asks volunteers to commit to at least one hour a week to provide consistency for children. Volunteers are also needed to help in the office and at events.

For more information see http://www.cappcenter.org

The Carousel Center

Jale Ademir, Introduction to Early Childhood Education, EDN 204 – Oct. 31

Jale Ademir, Introduction to Early Childhood Education, EDN 204 Course

The Carousel Center provides a child-friendly environment to help abused children in Southeastern North Carolina. Amy Feath, executive director, visited WCE on Halloween. A passionate advocate for children, still sporting glitter in her hair from an earlier event where she posed as a fairy princess, Feath explained that her agency’s work involves substantiating cases of physical/sexual abuse, assisting in investigations to hold predators accountable, and providing Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) to help children and non-offending caregivers heal.

Feath acknowledged the process is complicated because family lives are complicated. Traumatized children have to weigh which is scarier: telling or not telling. She stressed The Carousel Center’s primary focus is on protecting children- and helping to restore their health in mind, body and spirit.

Generally, referrals come from the Department of Social Services (DSS) or law enforcement. The average age of children served is nine, and 18 percent are age four or younger. Teachers, pediatricians and others who suspect abuse are obligated to report it. Sometimes, Feath cautioned, well-meaning individuals complicate the process. For example, a teacher might discuss the issue with the principal or guidance counselor. It becomes a problem, Faith says, if a second person speaks with the child. This will compromise any investigation because the law says children should only have to share their story once. “If you witness, suspect or have abuse disclosed to you,” Feath advised. “Don’t try to interview the child. Instead, join your principal in placing a call to DSS and let DSS take it from there.”

But what if the suspicion turns out to be false? “What if it doesn’t?” Feath responds. “We conduct a thorough and professional investigation because we feel we have to. We don’t want to see these babies show up on a slab in the morgue.”

Feath doesn’t mince words. The stories she shared were stark, graphic and at times, profoundly disturbing. Still, she managed to paint a picture full of hope. “Children are amazing resilient,” Feath said. “We work to help them heal. And when they heal, they once again become joyful little people.”

Opportunities for Students
The Carousel Center offers internships and relies on many volunteers. In January, the Center will become the first agency in the state to pilot use of volunteers as family companions.

 For more information see http://carouselcenter.org/ or visit them on Facebook.

Coastal Horizons Center, Inc.

Alicia Brophy, Teaching Students With Learning Problems, SED 360– Sept. 30

Coastal Horizons Center, Inc. has served the community for 43 years, treating individuals with mental and addictive disorders. Kenny House, VP of Clinical Services, said the agency serves people of all ages, from young children through seniors. “Kids generally come to us when they get in trouble in school or with the law,” he said. “We’re a reactive society. People tend to put off seeing a doctor until there’s a problem. It’s even worse when the issue is one of mental health or addiction, because there’s a stigma.”

House, who has a degree in social work from UNCW, joined the organization in 1979. He’s seen a lot in that time and reflected on recent changes. “For years, we treated diagnoses in silos,” he explained. “Drug problems, alcohol problems, mental health, primary care and disabilities were all managed separately. But that didn’t work because problems such as drug use, depression and high blood pressure are inter-related.” Now, Coastal Horizons works to treat the whole person with a goal of helping to improve their physical, emotional and social well-being.

The organization provides a children’s shelter for runaways and rape crisis services for victims under age 18, but their primary focus in working with minors is on delaying first use of alcohol and marijuana. “This is a health issue,” House explained. “The female brain is not fully developed until age 21, and for males, 25, and we know alcohol and marijuana use have a significant impact on the developing brain.”

Most students come to Coastal Horizons through DSS or the legal system, but the organization is also increasingly involved in schools. Counties including Brunswick and Pender lack sufficient in-school resources and contract with Coastal Horizons to serve as an external partner, teaming with the school social worker, psychologist and parent to help students in need.

Opportunities for Students
Coastal Horizons needs volunteers for the Outdoor Adventure Course that teaches problem-solving and decision-making skills. Students looking to make a significant commitment can be trained in Red Crisis (must be available 24/7) or the agency’s Outpatient Program/Clinic (must make a commitment of several months). Internships are also available at the bachelor and master’s level.

 For more information see http://www.coastalhorizons.org

Additional Presentations

The Community Non-Profit Series will continue through November. Presentations are open to all faculty, staff and students. For information, visit www.uncw.edu/ed/community/ or contact Deloris Rhodes at rhodesd@uncw.edu.