Youth Learning Center Welcomes COE Students
“Fantastic!” said Laura Millkamp, program director at the Youth Learning Center (YLC), about the work of more than 100 College of Education students who volunteered in the YLC after school programming during the fall semester. “We have an UMSL student with us every hour, every minute, of every day we are open,” said Laura.
Through firsthand interactions with local K- 12 pupils served by area community agencies, COE students are being introduced to a much broader understanding of the education field. Future job opportunities, the expanded role of educators, and the rich learning possible when they reach out to communities across the St. Louis area are major benefits for all those engaged in the program.
Course assignments require all COE students to complete 10 clock hours to 20 clock hours working in youth-serving agencies that provide academic programming. However, as Millkamp knows, the mission of the agencies and the commitment of the UMSL students do not end when the students reach their assignment limits.
“We see UMSL students building relationships with our [YLC] students, and this is often across demographic or social class boundaries,” Millkamp said. “And then our students will ask, ‘When are they coming back?’” She said that the agency gets phone calls from COE students asking if particular students are in the center that day so they can come and work with them, noting that many COE students continue their volunteer work well beyond their class requirements. “In fact,” she added, “four of the COE students were so impressive, the YLC employed them in paid positions after their volunteer work ended.”
The Youth Learning Center’s formal role as a destination for students is part of a new program introduced across the COE during the 2013 fall semester by faculty in the Elementary, Early Childhood, Special Education and TEOSL Department and the office of School and Community Partnerships. All students in their initial education course, an educational psychology course, and a particular special education course are required to volunteer with an organization in the new Community Agency Partnership program.
For spring 2014, the agencies include Youth Learning Center, Mission St. Louis, Beyond Housing, Boys Hope Girls Hope, Girls Inc., and three agencies or programs focused particularly on students or adults with special needs: Team Activities for Special Kids (TASK), St Louis ARC, and the UMSL sponsored SUCCEED program. The Community Agency Partnership Program matches COE courses and assignments with the community work of designated partnering agencies to generate rich new learning for everyone involved. And as Laura Millkamp says, “That’s what you want to see, everybody learning from everybody else.” See more information about our degree program here.
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