Each week for a semester, college students piled into a van for the 30-minute drive to Groton Elementary School. What the undergrads and the children enrolled in an after-school program learn from each other: priceless.
A former K-12 teacher and now teaching professor at Cornell University, Bryan Duff focuses on youth development, especially in after-school and summer programs. Because such programs can change youth trajectories, and because they are harder to access in rural areas, Duff reaches out to rural districts “near” the University each time he teaches a course. That’s because his courses on educational psychology include off-campus field-work: a chance for undergrads to use, refine, and add to what they learn on campus.
When Duff reached out in Spring 2018, Groton Elementary principal Kent Maslin reached right back. Yes, the school’s families would appreciate more after-school options. Yes, the children would enjoy regular interaction with adults who aren’t quite old enough to be their parents or teachers. And, for sure, the children’s awareness of college and of the world outside their school would grow from such contact. Duff says that such sentiments, alongside Maslin’s reciprocal concern for the learning of the college students, boded well for the partnership.