College of Education and Technology receives Student Philanthropy Award

04/10/12 ema

HAYS, Kan. -- Each year, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) honors prominent higher education and student affairs leaders, programs and initiatives for contributions and impact on the field. Fort Hays State University's College of Education and Technology received the Student Philanthropy Award for the "Our Americas Project."

Faculty members from the College of Education and Technology at FHSU spent the last two summers in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, working with non-English speaking elementary school students in an effort to improve the quality of instruction of English and technology.

"By increasing the students' ability to speak English and their computer skills, they have a better chance of finding employment in the food and hotel industry along the beach resort areas of Puerto Vallarta," said Dr. Robert Moody, assistant professor of advanced education programs.

"Currently, they live outside the community in Volcanes, which is close to the mountainous jungle areas where few jobs exist. Many of the homes are constructed of scrap materials recycled from the local dump, have no running water, indoor plumbing or electricity and the school they attend can't afford to hire an English-speaking teacher or anyone with current technology skills," he said.

Students and faculty are working collaboratively to make a demonstrable and tangible impact on improving rural Mexican children's quality of life and by sharing and transferring knowledge, expertise and experience through networking and learning.

This program began during a spring break trip in 2010 when 300 pounds of school supplies were loaded into large suitcases to be delivered to the school. Discussions were held at the time about the possibility of coming back to volunteer to help at the summer camp. After faculty members attended the camp, they were asked to create a curriculum and run the summer camp the following summer. Unfortunately, the camp was cancelled due to lack of funding. This past summer, another group of faculty went back to restart talks about the summer camp and possible support for instruction during the regular school year.

"While our original intent was just to volunteer during the summer, due to the lack of quality instruction, we have been asked to eventually take over the regular school year's instruction of English and computer skills to fourth-and fifth-graders and sixth- and seventh-graders in pullout programs," said Moody. "We were asked to provide the curriculum and supplemental materials by January 2012, but we received emails begging for the curriculum much sooner."

This summer, students and faculty will create and coordinate a summer camp, consisting of activities created by the students in the areas of English, reading, arts and crafts, physical activities, nutrition, and hygiene.

Undergraduate students are currently creating reusable learning objects using YouTube videos that provide English instruction to support the curriculum that is being taught at the school by traveling tourist volunteers. These videos provide fun, interactive videos that teach English vocabulary pertaining to family, clothing, playtime activities, home, food, body parts and technology. Students will be invited to volunteer to work at the summer camp and create other instructional materials in the semesters to come.


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