A Perfect Partnership: Eastover & the International Academy
For the last few months, several grade 11 and 12 students from the International Academy have been taking field trips to Eastover Elementary School twice a week for their Product Team class, a 90-minute class period that allows students to enhance their personal and interpersonal development by learning through experience. The high school students are working with teachers and elementary students, creating a valuable symbiotic relationship through service. This helps them achieve common goals and to meet the varied needs of students, the school, and the community. The IA students have been assigned to over 14 classrooms and projects, which include anything from helping students read and write to physically helping around the classroom.
Students and teachers alike gain a greater sense of community when working with each other, and there are other benefits as well. Amanda Melymuka, Eastover’s Program Consultant, said, “It feels like a rewarding level of support that the teachers can rely on, and a really great opportunity for the big kids to feel a sense of fulfillment. It’s great watching them all come out of their shells.” The IA students have been learning important life skills, such as scheduling, getting substitutes if they can’t make it, and communicating with teachers. The high school students are also gaining experience in the classroom and working with children. Meanwhile, the Eastover students are benefiting from one-on-one interaction with the IA students.
IA Associate Principal Anthony DeGrazia added, “We’re excited about this meaningful partnership with Mr. Gignac, Ms. Melymuka, and the Eastover Elementary staff. Community service and service learning is an integrated component of the International Baccalaureate program, and our students really love working with the elementary students. They find it rewarding and they’re excited to go each day.”
In order to graduate, IA students are required to participate in and write about six “CAS” experiences a year, which can include anything in the categories of Creativity, Activity, or Service. This service project counts as one of the six requirements for each student. It may be required, but the Eastover teachers have reported that the IA students are going above and beyond the call of duty, staying late, doing excellent work, and showing real responsibility. Nice work, IA!