A bike trip that turned into elementary school lessons and daily observations of state troopers’ work, including undercover work garnered the top awards in experiential learning for senior Emmalee Pearce and freshman Caroline Lennon at the annual Honors Convocation ceremony May 7 at Keuka College.
Pearce, a unified childhood/special education major from Wilson, N.Y., biked some 4,000 miles roundtrip along the East Coast of the U.S. through 13 states in the summer of 2010 and converted her experiences into a specialty elementary instructional plan. Dubbed “Read Across America,” Pearce’s curriculum was crafted to teach students engaging math, science or social studies lessons based on the places she visited along the way.
“I was in awe,” wrote Martha French, associate professor of education, who nominated Pearce and praised her commitment despite trying physical and emotional challenges, such as 10 flat tires within a four-day period early in the eight-week trip.
Pearce wrote about the value of taking “time to have experiences that can change your life” and judges noted her confident belief that her Field Period led to a successful student teaching experience immediately following the bike trip.
Freshman criminology/criminal justice major Caroline Lennon of Hobart, N.Y. wowed the judges with her persistence in pursuing a Field Period with the New York State Police as a freshman, ultimately participating in daily ride-alongs and even undercover assignments out of Troop C in Oneonta, N.Y. According to Tim Bower, visiting assistant professor of applied and comparative sociology, state troopers rarely award internship placements to freshmen.
“It blew my mind,” Bower said of Lennon’s tenacity in pursuing the opportunity, which also included tours of the state police’s Forensic Identification Center and the police training academy.
Lennon wrote that her Field Period “changed my perspective and understanding of what it means to be a State Trooper” and reinforced her desire to pursue that as a career.
The College’s Center for Experiential Learning honored all 10 nominees and the respective staff or faculty members who nominated them for the award at a special luncheon May 7. Sarah Osterling of the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance in Penn Yan was also recognized then as the 2011 Field Period Site Supervisor of the Year.
“We know experiential learning is the heart and soul of this institution … we’re recognizing what makes it happen,” College President Joseph G. Burke said at the luncheon, praising students for their efforts. “We have students doing great things all-around. You’re all winners.”
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