How to work with chi dren is an important skill for students to learn and this year 20 students have the opportunity to hone those skills with a hands-on approach.

Some years in the making, the Early Childhood Education class came to fruition for the 2013-2014 school year for interested high school students. The new course partners students from the high school with students and classrooms at the Alden School. High school students visit Alden two or three times a week, depending on the schedule rotation.

Senior Bridget Bylo has been babysitting since she was 10 years old and loves being around children. She is hoping to become a pediatric nurse and viewed participation in the course as a good way to improve her skills with children.

A typical day for Bylo includes signing in at Alden and helping out with Ms. Donovan’s fifth grade class. De- pending on what day of the schedule it is, she helps children with activities, works with students during literacy circles and has even helped grade papers and writing journals. So far, the Alden students have been very receptive to her. 

“On my first day I worked in small groups with the students and they all couldn’t wait to meet Ms. Bylo,” she said. “They are eager to have someone new in the classroom who is not a teacher; it’s exciting for them to spend time with an older kid.”

Bylo said her peers are also enjoying the class and have seen their students adapt very well to their presence in the classrooms.

“We are so thankful this course has been added this year,” she said. “It’s very exciting to be able to go to Alden and get the experience we will need in the future.”

Family and consumer science teacher Andrea Sterling said the program used to be affiliated with Magic Dragon Preschool. Because of the amount of interest in the program, Sterling looked into ways to keep the program go- ing.

“Many of our students are interested in careers in education, nursing, social work and psychology, so I approached the Alden principal with an idea for a new program,” Sterling said. “She was very receptive to it and we have since developed a wonderful partnership.”

The full-year course started off with lessons in effective communication and discipline. Sterling said the students were able to use the information they learned in class immediately in the classroom at Alden.

“It is the perfect example of project-based learning,” she said.

The course will also cover job hunting, filling out applications and resumes and interviewing techniques. Donna Moffat, vice principal at Alden, has joined forces with Sterling to help facilitate the program.

So far, the feedback from teachers has been positive, Sterling said.

“We are always open to any and all suggestions, as this course is a work in progress and will develop over the year,” she said. “It’s nice to see the older students helping out the younger students with anything they are struggling with. It’s good for the high school students to apply what they are learning in class and it’s even better for the elementary school students to hear encouraging words from their older peers.”