By: MEAGAN KOWALIK
Students minoring in counseling at IU South Bend are receiving firsthand experience outside of the classroom.
The School of Education has developed new teaching strategies allowing students to get involved with area schools, the Center for the Homeless, and the Juvenile Justice Center of South Bend.
Students enrolled in professor Kevin Griffith’s EDUC-G203 course get the opportunity to apply their learned skills in a real world environment.
“The purpose is to work with students that show theoretical foundation from the textbook and take those skills out into the community,” said Griffith, a professor in counseling and human services within the School of Education.
The students taking this course are involved in three different community sites, employing their education and counseling skills to find what works within the systems of the Michiana community.
One of the groups enrolled in Griffith’s class is taking their skills to Washington High School in South Bend. This group of counseling minor students is focusing on the Medical Allied Health Sciences Magnet Program within this school system. This program allows students to succeed academically as well as contribute a great deal to the Michiana economy.
“They are preparing students to fill the void in the labor market, and to help students to be energized,” Griffith said.
Students are encouraged to be aware of the statistics surrounding the community site they are involved in.
“Students identify the stats and apply the theory that they learned in class, helping to promote resources and opportunities that are out there and bring that awareness back to the recipient of the service,” Griffith said.
He believes the main objective for the students is to have them “really looking at the human story element behind the statistics. We want the qualitative human element to be taken.”
The second group of students enrolled in this course will complete its field work at the Center for the Homeless in South Bend where they will examine the family system and the consistency of education within the families they encounter.
The third group is completing its field work at the Juvenile Justice Center in South Bend. These students will direct their attention to the bridges that exist for the advancement of education when high school-aged students find themselves leaving the Juvenile Justice Center.
“These programs are trying to bring awareness to our community, as well as to the students in the minor program of what works in the Michiana community,” Griffith said.
The School of Education has taken a holistic approach in the education process. This has allowed students the opportunity to learn the theoretical process and gain firsthand experience in their career field of interest at the same time.
“At the university level, we have a commitment to a creative learning environment where students are getting fundamentals but applying those to community learning,” Griffith said.
The learning style practiced in Griffith’s G203 course is based on discussion and role play.
He said students “take those experiences in the classroom to better themselves and better the Michiana area.”
The system of learning affords students a chance to network as well.
“[The program] opens new doors, and prepares them for internships and practicum for students,” Griffith said. “It helps students have a better college experience, and encourages those who are inclined to seek further education.”