Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a 10-part series on the 2011 Experiential Learner of the Year Award nominees. Nominees for the upperclass and freshman awards will be honored at a luncheon May 6; the winners will be revealed at Honors Convocation May 7.
When senior Emmalee Pearce needed a Field Period, she consulted with her then-adviser Cindy Shepardson, a lecturer in the Division of Education.
Pearce, a unified childhood/special education major from Wilson, approached Shepardson with plans for a bicycle tour from Lyons, N.Y. to Altamonte Springs, Fla. over the summer of 2010; one that would take her 3,831 miles roundtrip, through 12 states and Washington, D.C.
“Emmalee was excited about the prospects of this adventure,” said Shepardson. “I can speak to its unique qualities and to Emmalee’s creativity and persistence in its planning and completion. This was to be a round-trip down and back in a matter of eight weeks. She and her tour partner had thought through all of the details carefully and were ready to take on this lofty challenge.”
According to Shepardson, the bicycle tour would “definitely be more than just a physical pursuit, it would be an educational adventure. Emmalee began to brainstorm the many different learning experiences that might be possible on a trip such as this, and how she might take advantage of this to create some engaging activities for childhood-level students.”
“While it didn’t directly relate to what I have learned in my education classes, the experiences I had during this trip gave me life skills that I will someday be able to use in the professional field,” said Pearce.
After some checking into the prospects of the bicycle trip, and finding an appropriate supervisor for such a Field Period, Shepardson said the plans were finalized, “right down to finding a GPS system that would track the pair’s movements throughout the trip.”
After Pearce completed the trip, she assembled a “fairly detailed glimpse into how she sees herself using what she learned on the trip to help students learn about a host of different topics across subject areas,” said Shepardson. “Her unique documentation consisted of both a large poster and map with her destinations located, and an instructional plan for how she might use this in the classroom.”
“I learned and acquired a great deal of skills that I can take and use in my future classroom,” said Pearce. “I have a better understanding of the geography of the East Coast of the U.S., and learned some of the ways other states are different than New York. The experiences I had on this tour have helped prepare me for future challenges that I may encounter in life.”
Said Shepardson: “I have always been impressed by Emmalee’s thoroughness and creativity in completing her Field Period work. She really outdid herself with this project, and I believe that dedication to excellence is reflected in the work she did here.”