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Crusaders and Kubs: Education students instruct kindergarten after-school program

December 11, 2012 | Ian Richardson

For the third consecutive year, Evangel Education students have been making a difference in the lives of local kindergarteners and gaining valuable career experience in the process.

Through the Kinder Kubs after-school program at Willard South Elementary, students from Evangel’s Language Development class have been providing instruction to kindergarteners in need of additional assistance with oral language skills.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our kindergartners to build oral language skills while providing college students classroom experience,” says Kara Crighton-Smith, principal at Willard South. “It is great to see the relationships that are created between these kindergartners and college students.”

Kinder Kubs began as a collaborative effort between Evangel Assistant Professor of Education Shonna Crawford and Willard South instructional coach Linda Azeez.  “We were brainstorming ways to provide support for students’ oral language development, reading skills and writing skills,” says Crawford. The result was this creative program that provides a mutually beneficial learning environment for both elementary students and college students.

Samantha Jones

Evangel University junior Samantha Jones (right) reads with her student.

Since its inception, the program helped more than 60 children improve their literacy and language skills. This fall’s program served approximately 20 kindergarteners.

Kindergarten students meet with the Kinder Kubs instructors for six sessions, one every other week. During sessions, the instructors assist kindergarteners with improving oral language, reading, writing and reasoning skills. During weeks between sessions, Crawford’s students write out individual lesson plans for each kindergartener based on his or her needs as indicated by assessment results and student observation. Willard South Elementary employees then incorporate these lesson plans into their personal instruction of Kinder Kubs students.

“When we go to Willard South every other week, the first thing that we do is sit down with a student and give him the opportunity to talk about his day, his likes and dislikes, or anything that he feels like sharing,” says Lauren Liberty, a senior Early Childhood Education major. “This provides us with a great opportunity to invest in the students’ lives and to learn more about the best ways to serve and work with each child individually.”

The Evangel students witness firsthand how much of a difference this individual attention makes. Giving a significant investment of time and attention to this program, they have the satisfaction of seeing it pay off.

“What stands out to me is the growth in the students from week to week,” says Shelby Davis, a senior Early Childhood Education major. “It’s amazing just how much extra one-on-one time can improve students’ abilities.”

Kinder Kubs

Sometimes it’s all about a hug. Evangel junior Cassie Minogue spends some quality time with her student.

Crawford says this year’s program has been the most successful to date. “This year we received the best feedback yet from the principal and instructional coach at Willard South about our Evangel students,” she says.

Not only has the program been helping the kindergarteners, but the Evangel volunteers have been rewarded with valuable experience for their future careers. “Getting to implement what I learn in my classes in real life situations has been very valuable to me,” says Liberty.

“This program provided me with the valuable experiences of interacting with and creating personalized lessons for a child who needed individual attention in order to be more successful in literacy skills. Through this program, I was introduced to many different teaching strategies that I know I will implement in my own classroom in the future.”

See local news coverage of Kinder Cubs at OzarksFirst.com.

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