Month: April 2016

Changing Attitudes Towards School Through Tutoring

Post by: Kelly Mesler ’17, McKenzie Bover ’16, & Molly Perkins ’17

Over the past two semesters Kelly Mesler, McKenzie Bover, & Molly Perkins have been working on creating and implementing the Castleton Tutoring Project. The idea originated from our work in the Language Development course, a Civic Engagement (CE) course here at the university. Throughout the course, we noticed a need in our community for children affiliated with the university. We decided to take advantage of this opportunity and implement a program to address the academic needs of children in our very own community.

McKenzie, Kelly, and Molly (the creators of the tutoring program).

McKenzie, Kelly, and Molly (the creators of the tutoring program).

We began by researching the needs and benefits of tutoring. We found research that supports the need for tutoring along with many short and long term benefits students and tutors may receive from this program. There are many social benefits along with academic benefits of tutoring, like increased meaningful engagements in classroom learning. Children who utilize tutors have greater progress in school, participate more during class, and complete homework assignments more regularly and frequently than their non-tutored peers. It is obvious that there are many benefits for students who receive tutoring, but we also found a substantial amount of research supporting benefits the tutor receives as well. Tutors profit from the tutoring experience in several ways. Tutors improve leadership skills throughout their tutoring sessions and sessions also solidify their knowledge of a specific topic. Participation in tutoring practices provides them with experience working with children and a deepened understanding of how to help children achieve academic goals. Tutoring programs may enhance the relationship between schools and the community, something we hope to be achieving with our program.

The start up of our program consisted of distributing online and paper preliminary surveys. The results from these surveys indicated that members of the Castleton community are in fact in need of our services! We found parents not only wanted their children tutored, but they also know of others who would benefit from this program. Respondents reported a variety of subjects including math, English, art, secondary language, grammar skills, and even social skills building. Our program is currently targeted at core classes (e.g. Math and English) but we are hopeful we can expand to more subject areas in the future. Meetings, for now, take place in the extra office or conference room of the psychology department, with resources to facilitate tutoring sessions and allow us coordinators to check in regularly.

McKenzie and Kelly doing some tutoring business.

McKenzie and Kelly doing some tutoring business.

When choosing tutors, we felt as if education majors were best equipped for tutoring practices and would also benefit from it the most by gaining experience in their field of interest. So far, we have about 10-15 tutors (mostly primary and secondary education majors) who specify in a variety of subject areas and availability. Our tutors are recruited by coordinator (currently Kelly, Molly, and McKenzie) presentation briefly at the beginning of education classes and school-wide emails. We tell students about the program and encourage them to become involved to gain experience and solidify knowledge on particular subjects without having to travel off campus.

Our role as coordinators is to be in contact with the child’s parents, discussing the area of struggle, goals, timing and availability, and be there to discuss any concerns they may have. We also are in charge of matching tutors based on availability and area of academic need. We suggest that students bring homework to work on, but there may be times where that is not possible. In that case, tutors can reach out to professors for materials (promoting agency in the education department) or we will happily do so. We are also responsible for keeping track of tutors and students’ names, availability, and making arrangements accordingly. We are in communication with all parties making sure the sessions are running smoothly and reassuring that we are there for any questions or concerns.

One of the tutoring sessions taking place.

One of the tutoring sessions taking place.

We have created a list of expectations and an agreement to participate to allow for assurance, liability and to keep coordinators active in the experience. In order to maintain a sustainable program and measure the effectiveness of the tutoring services, we utilize pre and post test measures. After collecting consent, students and parents will fill out surveys at the beginning of the first session and end of the last session to measure confidence and degree of enjoyment in the particular subject they are being tutored in. We expect to see an increase in both confidence and enjoyment for students on the particular subject in both students and parents!

Clearly, there is a need for tutoring in the Castleton community. Research supports that tutoring programs in general result in many benefits for both the students and tutors. We hope to bring these benefits to our community with our supervision and organization. Our program can help students get the academic support they need, help parents find reliable tutors, and provide education majors with an outlet to gain experience and academic benefits without having to travel to do so. We hope our project will expand in the future and with the success so far, the future of the Castleton tutoring program is looking bright!

Going Green for Earth Week

Post by: Catie Wielgasz ’16

Earth Week is celebrated by those throughout the Castleton Community in numerous ways. It is a time for the Green Campus Workgroup to put their best foot forward and teach the University and community ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Many plans have been made for this week leading up to Earth Day, which is today – Friday, April 22. For most of these events, gifts or prizes are being given out to those who win or attend!

The most well-known activity for Castleton students is the Electricity Reduction Competition. For an entire week, students attempt to reduce the electricity in their building by the highest percentage compared to any other residence hall on campus. Last year, the students took it to a whole new level; halls reduced their electricity by over 20% in order to win individual pints of ice cream. It was amazing to see the overall result of all residence buildings decreasing their electricity usage. This week, the competition is in full swing, as I have overheard students talking about it and their excitement. I have also experienced the competition by walking into my residence hall with no lights on and sightlessly finding my room. This year seems to be more successful than last year, on enthusiasm alone.

Earth DayTwo other major activities that are occurring on Earth Day are the Back to the Earth 5k trail run (at 5:30 pm) and the Earth Day Celebration and Recycled Art show (from 4 – 6 pm). I have already heard many students talking about the 5k and wanting to run it to show their support for this day. Proceeds will be supporting Pure Water for the World and the Sports Management Club. The Recycled Art Show and Celebration idea came from one of my Eco-Reps, Jessica Ralston; this idea is her project to spread awareness about sustainability for this semester. In the Art show, different groups of students could submit artwork made from recyclables, and various categories will allow the winners to be decided. Not only are Castleton Students contributing, but high school students will also be presenting their work on sustainability practices. I believe having high school students as a part of Earth Day will impact both current college students, and the presenters’ passions for sustainability.

With the help of the Green Campus Workgroup, Sustainability Club, and the Eco-Reps, I believe that 2016’s Earth Week will be extremely successful, and perhaps even more successful than last year. These new activities will bring students, faculty, staff, and the community together, and will also bring awareness and insight into sustainable practices. Please attend and participate in these events if able!

Free Food for All Community Members

Post by: Emma Blaiklock

Living off campus can be expensive, not only for rent and utilities but for costs of food as well. Castleton Universities’ Student Government Association (SGA) is collaborating with Castleton Cares, the town’s food shelf, in order to supply free monthly baskets of food to commuter students. Any type of commuter student who lives or resides in the Castleton, Hubbardton or Bomoseen area is eligible to pick up a box of free food once a month for them and their housemates, if there are any. One box of food is permitted a month per household with their student ID present. In order to sign up for the services, students need only bring their student ID and fill out the paperwork saying they live in the area and that day can bring home a box full of goodies!

Food packages can consist of a number of different items dependent on what the student is looking for and what the food shelf is carrying at that time. Soups, cereal, meat, sauce, pasta, canned and fresh vegetables dependent on the season are just some examples of items available. At this point SGA has gone door-to-door delivering fliers and talking with residents from the commuter homes in order to spread the word about the services and get to know more commuter students. Many students have expressed their enthusiasm for the project and either have signed up or will be signing up in the near future. This service can be utilized over the summer as well for students staying in the area during this time. Every Monday during the summer, students can go to the food shelf and pick up fresh vegetables that are not sold at the local farmers markets.

In partaking in this endeavor SGA and Castleton Cares goal is to supply food to commuter students and give back to the community through a food drive which will be hosted at the University’s talent show on Friday, April 22. All canned food and non-perishable items are welcome, just be sure to check the date!

SGA recognizes that sometimes commuter students can feel distant from campus due to the physical separation, but through this initiative we hope to make students feel that they are important and thought about – not only by their Student Government, but by the surrounding community they live in that is concerned about their ability to live off campus, and wants to help.

Castleton Cares Inc. is located behind and underneath the Federated Church of Castleton. The hours open are Mondays and Fridays from 1 pm to 3 pm weekly. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns feel free to email Emma Blaiklock, VP of Community Relations for SGA, or call the food shelf directly at (802) 468-2444.

Habitat Club Teams Up With Forsyth County

Post by: Kelly Mills ’16

Lodge squad with their site manager, Papa Joe.

Lodge squad with their site manager, Papa Joe.

This past spring break, 18 members of Castleton University’s Habitat Club packed up and began their adventure to Winston-Salem, North Carolina where they paired up with Habitat for Humanity (HFH) of Forsyth County for their sixth Collegiate Challenge. Throughout the year, the club members volunteer their Saturday mornings to local affiliates of Rutland, Bennington, and Addison County, working alongside site managers and future homeowners to build houses. The club facilitates fundraisers (their annual Basket Raffle, Duck Race, Chuck-a-duck, Chuck-a-puck, and Bottle Drives) all year round in order to fund their spring break down south helping out a different affiliate. In the past, the club has been to Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Just like any other year, the students arrived in Winston-Salem expecting to lend a helping hand to those in need of a decent place to live, but experienced so much more than just that.

Mr Wilson's house, where club members reconstructed his front porch.

Mr Wilson’s house, where club members reconstructed his front porch.

Upon arrival in Forsyth County, the club was split into groups of nine and assigned two different projects. HFH of Forsyth County is a well-established affiliate, and in order to continue serving their recipients, they are in the process of building a Volunteer Lodge. Nine club members worked alongside Papa Joe of HFH of Forsyth County working on the roof, insulating the basement and ceilings, caulking, and completing trim work. The Volunteer lodge will be the future home to all the volunteers staying with HFH of Forsyth County, and can accommodate up to 40 volunteers. The other nine members headed down the road to reconstruct Mr. Wilson’s (a Navy veteran and retired firefighter) front porch with Morgan of HFH of Forsyth County. They began at the beginning of the week by pulling up the old porch, and finished at the end of the week with painting the new porch. This was the first of a handful of reconstruction projects sponsored by Meals on Wheels and Home Depot. Check out this newscast that our own member, Kalie Dunican, was featured in!

Porch squad with their site manager, Morgan, and Mr. Wilson, the owner of the new porch.

Porch squad with their site manager, Morgan, and Mr. Wilson, the owner of the new porch.

Both of the worksites had various tasks that were to be completed by the trip members, and were equally distributed among the groups. The groups caulked, painted, insulated, nailed, leveled, built a wall, built a gate, and everything in between while on the worksites. Although throughout the week the tasks got more labor-intensive, the groups triumphed by supporting each other. The amount of positive energy surrounding the worksite was something that made the work seem easy for the club members. Papa Joe and Morgan were very patient and informative on the worksite, which was very encouraging to the members. This club is made up of very diverse individuals– various majors, beliefs, backgrounds, etc.– but they all have one thing in common: they love to help others. This is something that the members saw in each other every day, and it allowed for many different people to relate and bond with each other. It was brought up during a reflection experience that if it was not for this club, certain members felt that they would have never been friends with people on the trip. Although the club had spent time together before the trip, the trip allowed them to really get to know one another. CU Habitat arrived in Winston-Salem as a club, but left as a family.

The trip attendees in front of the new Volunteer Lodge.

The trip attendees in front of the new Volunteer Lodge.

This trip was not something you can experience through seeing pictures, Snapchats, Tweets, Facebook posts, or even through this blog post. The time the members spent with each other is truly irreplaceable. This is an experience that was shared by 18 people, and it is something that bonded them together and they will have for the rest of their lives– that no one can take away from them. I will not soon forget the smiles, laughs, tears, and blisters from this experience. So what are you waiting for? If you want to change the world and change your life, get involved! Habitat Club has weekly meetings every Tuesday at 8:30 pm in the Formal Lounge. Anyone is welcome, and it’s never too late to join!

Students Try Their Hand at The Game of Life

Post by: Katie Haseltine ’17
Photos by: Ashley Callan ’16

Students trying to see if they need a part-time job to get by.

Students trying to see if they need a part-time job to get by.

There are so many thoughts zooming through our minds as college students – with all of our time caught up in our social and academic lives, where do we find time to think about life after college? This is such an important topic that so many of us are oblivious to and it is time to narrow that gap. On Wednesday, March 23, the Heritage Family Credit Union, Academic Support Center, and Student Life department hosted a Game of Life Financial Reality Fair in hopes to heighten students’ awareness of financial literacy and managing expenses after graduation.

game-of-life5Similar to the board game Life, students had the opportunity to choose a potential career and build a monthly budget based on a starting salary for that position. In order to determine how they would allocate their expenses, students visited numerous stations to learn about different plans related to housing, transportation, food, night life, pets, furniture, cell phone, etc. In the end, each student had the opportunity to meet with a financial advisor to discuss their budget and how well they made out. Students’ who end with negative money were sent back into the game to re-work their budgets and take cuts where they need to so they would have money left over at the end of each month.

Game of Life Event

Students deciding what electronics they want to splurge on.

This was Castleton’s second annual Game of Life event and the turnout was a little more than last year. It was great to have another great turnout because we want to continue hosting this event and creating this awareness of financial literacy. We received phenomenal support from the Castleton community that included attendance from classes, student athletes, and the Student Government Association.


Students spun the wheel of life to see what unexpected events were thrown their way.

As the student hired to plan this event, I had moments of stress, but stepping back once the event began, I could tell that students were enjoying the game. At the same time though, students were also realizing and learning what it takes to live on a given budget and make cuts. Students made comments about their budgets and observations on their spending habits. Many indicated how informational the event is in creating a budget and generating an early awareness of what is to come after graduation. I am confident that this event will continue to grow and am excited to see what next year brings!

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