Helping Hands

Starkville-Oktibbeha Teacher Academy Students Provide Child Care During Development Days

Sudduth Elementary first grader Tyler Young whispers into sophomore Teacher Academy student Jaliyah Akins’ ear as older students guide children in a game of Simon Says during a Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District professional development day in February.
Sudduth Elementary first grader Tyler Young whispers into sophomore Teacher Academy student Jaliyah Akins’ ear as older students guide children in a game of Simon Says during a Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District professional development day in February.

Submitted Story
Photos by Carl Smith

Students in Patty Newsom’s teacher academy class at Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District provided child care services to almost 100 children in Grades K-8 during district staff development days this academic year. 

The Helping Hands program began when SOCSD Superintendent Eddie Peasant approached Millsaps Career and Technology Center Director Lenora Hogan about utilizing teacher academy students during delayed-start days that feature professional development for teachers from 7-10:30 a.m.

Although delayed starts provided a window for educators to sharpen their skills, it proved problematic because many teachers did not have a place outside of school for their children to go those mornings.

The 21 teacher academy students filled that void and provided care and learning activities for approximately 40 children on the first delayed-start day in September. Teacher academy students planned age-appropriate learning activities, utilized board games, created educational worksheets for remediation, and provided child care in five schools throughout the district.

Enrollment grew to approximately 90 children during delayed-start days in October and November.

Peasant said it is important for educators to step beyond their comfort zones and explore new methods of operation, and Newsom said Helping Hands provided invaluable teaching experience to her students.

“They came back to my classroom with all sorts of stories and questions about the younger students. My students are making real-world connections about human growth and development as well as understanding classroom management skills needed when working with young children,” Newsom said. “It is a great service learning project and a win-win for all involved.” 



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