Husky Spirit reaches Maryland third-graders

Education House of the Living and Learning Communities For immediate release: Nov. 24, 2010

BLOOMSBURG — Third-graders at Port Towns Elementary School, Bladensburg, Md., were introduced to Husky Spirit, thanks to the efforts of education majors at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.

More than 60 BU freshmen responded to a request from BU President David Soltz and Lisa Farabaugh, principal of the school in Prince George’s County, Md., to “adopt” a classroom. The school serves about 800 children in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade in a “very economically disadvantaged portion of the county,” Farabaugh said.

The idea behind the initiative is to “expose students to the possibilities that exist at colleges and universities so they begin to understand the importance of doing well in school, even at this young age,” she added.

BU’s Education House of the Living and Learning Communities (LLC) launched a partnership with two third-grade classrooms, sending pencils, pennants, mugs and mascot Roongo Husky stuffed animals to be used as “reading buddies.” The BU students also sent individual notes, inviting each of the third-graders to become a pen pal.

“Everything fell together in seconds,” said Barbara Wert, associate professor and co-director of the Education House LLC. “Our students are excited to be part of this year-long effort with Port Towns Elementary. We hope to stay in touch often during the coming months and visit the school to meet the children in person at the end of the school year.”

At BU, LLCs offer freshmen with common interests the opportunity to live together in a residence hall, participate in social and service activities and find support for classes and preservice opportunities, all under the direction of faculty and student mentors. The Education LLC provides support for students pursuing a teaching career. Also serving as co-director is Michael Patte, associate professor.

BU sophomores and juniors who serve as Education LLC mentors and helped organize the Education House “adopt-a-classroom” project are shown in the accompanying photo. Left to right are: Jennifer Bogart, Hopatcong, N.J.; Maria Pettinato, Clarks Summit; Carolyn Mitchell, Wellsboro; Lara Calo, Frenchtown, N.J.; and Kristin Berkenstock, Huntingdon Valley.

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 9,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Education, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.