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Eastern Takes Two "Alternative Breaks" During Spring Recess

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Eastern students Lisa Forcellina (left) and Kim DePaolis (right) with Eastern's AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Max Goto (center) working in raised garden beds at the Generous Gardens Project in Greenville, SC, for their week-long spring break in March.

Willimantic, Conn. - This past spring recess, Eastern Connecticut State University students participated in two "alternative break" trips. Both trips lasted a week in March; one group volunteered with the Generous Gardens Project in Greenville, SC, and the other volunteered in the Natchaug State Forest in Eastford, CT.

 Seven students worked with the Generous Gardens Project, a nonprofit organization that grows and distributes fresh produce to anti-hunger efforts in South Carolina. "Generous Gardens taught us so much about gardening, how to be 'green' and the importance of giving back," said Cassandra Marion, a senior majoring in visual arts. "The amount of work we were able to achieve made coming back every night exhausted totally worth it."

The group learned about sustainability and urban gardening while planting seeds, harvesting vegetables, composting, working on raised garden beds and other agricultural tasks.
 
"Generous Gardens helped to reignite my passion for helping people by expanding my repertoire of skills and offering me a novel vehicle for service," said Kimberly DePaolis, a junior double majoring in early childhood education and psychology. "Being completely submerged in a self-sustaining farm for the purpose of helping those in need of food was incredible."

"On Wednesday we had the day off and went for a hike on Paris Mountain, and later got to explore the town," said Lily Egan, a junior majoring in communication. "I wouldn't have traded our trip for anything. I needed an escape from regular life in Connecticut. The work was hard but also relaxing; a real stress reliever."


Another group of seven students took day trips from Eastern to Natchaug State Forest throughout the week, where they built bridges and did trail work with the Connecticut Forest and Park Association. "The labor was tough, but not as difficult as I was expecting. I especially liked working with the power tools when we were building the bridge," said Anastasia Matos, a sophomore majoring in business administration. "I was out of my element, but everyone was so kind and helpful; I felt a real connection with everyone."

The Natchaug State Forest group enjoyed a hike through the forest and an education on forestry and conservation. "This trip was fun and rewarding, and, like all alternative break trips, a great way to learn new things, meet people and lend a helping hand," said Kurt Stefanscyk, a junior majoring in environmental earth science. "It feels good to give back."

The purpose of "alternative breaks" is to provide the opportunity for students to serve outside of their own communities in a drug-and-alcohol free environment. For information about Eastern's upcoming alternative break trips, contact the Center for Community Engagement.

 

Center for Early Childhood Education Releases New Video

Written by Jordan Sakal

Willimantic, Conn. - The Center for Early Childhood Education at Eastern Connecticut State University is pleased to announce the release of "Investigating Containers," a new video highlighting the work of teachers at the Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC). "Investigating Containers" explores how teachers engage toddlers and preschoolers in a variety of learning experiences while developing an understanding of the properties and uses of containers. This video features teachers Claudia Ahern, Amy Tyler and Amie Theriault, as well as CFDRC Director Niloufar Rezai.

"Investigating Containers" is the fifth film in the "Investigating..." video series. Each video in the series captures one topic of investigation in the CFDRC, and illustrates how teachers involve children in literacy, math, science, art and other experiences during the three to four months of investigation. "Investigating Containers" was directed by Media Production Specialist Ken Measimer. Communication students Megan Saunders, Sarah Pierce, Amy Dillon, Justin Bedard and Sean Leser were production assistants responsible for shooting footage, editing video and assisting with graphics.

To watch the 11-minute video, visit http://www.easternct.edu/cece/investigating_containers.html

 

 

University's 14th Annual Excellence Expo

Written by Akaya McElveen

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Willimantic, Conn. -Eastern Connecticut State University held its 14th Annual Excellence Expo sponsored by The School of Education/Professional Studies and Graduate Division on April 15 in the Student Center.

The expo featured more than 100 students presenting their research presentations, business marketing plans, communication advertising campaigns, photography exhibits and poster displays. Provost Rhona Free said that the expo reflected Eastern's model of "integrative learning," where students apply the knowledge learned in class by conducting experiments, research and other creative activity, and then sharing that through presentations and publications, eventually applying their learning in the workplace after graduation. Others like Jaime Gómez, interim dean of education and professional studies/graduate division, believes that the Excellent Expo is a great way to prevent academic excellence in students from becoming "invisible." 

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As part of the opening ceremonies to the expo, Psychology Professor Carlos Escoto, coordinator of undergraduate research and creative activity, presented an Undergraduate Research Mentor Award to Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, Phyllis Waite Endowed Chair of the Center for Early Childhood Education.
 
Trawick-Smith received the award for involving students in his research of children's play activities. "Students provide interesting fresh insights into our work, and ask questions I would never think to ask," he said. "It has been great fun working with students on this research." Trawick-Smith's student researchers have joined him in presenting their findings at national conferences and publishing their work in national early childhood education journals.

Student research was on display throughout the Student Center. While special research presentations from the Business Administration and Education Departments were conducted in rooms located on the first level of the Student Center, business marketing plans, communication advertising campaigns and photography exhibits were held in rooms located directly across from the Betty R. Tipton Room, where poster boards were on display.
 
Jordan LaRusso, who presented a poster on "Freedom of Speech in Schools," discussed the topic of verbal and written speech in our school systems in terms of the First Amendment. It was a project she started in her Ethics and Law class for Communication, and she felt that "conducting research and choosing my own topic is really what had drawn me to present here."

Similarly, Amanda Eckert, who presented a poster on the effects of social media on society titled "Do it for the Vine: and Other Excuses Social Media Gives Us," chose to present at the expo because she had the opportunity to present on a topic that she was genuinely interested in.
 
Judges included Gómez; George Hernandez, Windham Regional/ Small Business Specialist; Robert Jeannette, director of health services; Stephen Nelson, interim chief information officer; Edward Osborn, director of university relations; Michael Palumbo, technical support analysis; Peter Polomski, owner of The Lily Pad and Chase Rozelle III, associate professor in the Performing Arts Department. Members of the local community have been invited to judge the expo since 2004.
The 2014 Excellence Expo committee included Theresa Bouley, associate professor in the Education Department; Maryanne Clifford, economics professor; Doncho Petkov, business administration professor; Terri Toles-Patkin, communication professor and Nanette Tummers, health and physical education professor.

Annual Eastern Excellence Expo Set for April 15

Written by Dwight Bachman


Willimantic, Conn: -- Eastern Connecticut State University's School of Education/Professional Studies and Graduate Division will hold its 14th Annual Excellence Expo on April 15, 2014, from 1-3p.m. in the Student Center.  The public is invited. Admission is free.

More than 110 students, supported by 10 faculty mentors, will present research projects and posters showcasing the five departments in the School of Education/Professional Studies and Graduate Division: Business Administration, Communication, Economics, Education, and Health and Physical Education.
Presentations include business marketing plans and communication advertising campaigns;  research presentations from business and education students; and a gallery photography exhibit of framed prints and color slides, just to name a few.  Poster research includes topics on communication law and ethics; health communication issues; and systems analysis.

For more information on the Excellence Expo, contact Pat Kucharski at (860) 465-5264 or email her at kucharski@easternct.edu.

Chief Justice Rogers and Judge Kahn to Speak at Eastern

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Two high-level Connecticut court officials will speak at Eastern Connecticut State University on March 26 for Eastern's University Hour series. At 3 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre, Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers and Superior Court Judge Maria Kahn will speak with the Eastern community about justice and the judicial system in today's world. 

Born and raised in Angola, Africa, Kahn was appointed a Superior Court Judge in 2006 and currently is assigned to hear criminal matters in the Fairfield Judicial District Courthouse. She moved to the United States at 10 years of age, is fluent in three languages and serves on a number state and national Bars. 

Rogers, a Connecticut native, was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court in 2007--the second woman ever to reach this designation in Connecticut. She was also appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the State Justice Institute's Board of Directors. In addition to serving on a number of prestigious Bars and committees, Rogers is also an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law.

"The event is open to the public and will be organized in a question-and-answer format," said Starsheemar Byrum, coordinator of the Women's Center. "Arrive early at the Student Center Theatre to ensure a good seat."

"Eastern in 4," Eastern's Revamped Academic Plan

Written by Michael Rouleau


Willimantic, Conn. - As part of Eastern Connecticut State University's 2013-18 Strategic Plan, "Eastern in 4" is now a requirement for current students and incoming freshmen. The goal of "Eastern in 4" is to lay out a tight and comprehensive plan--including academic and career goals--that will lead students to their bachelor's degrees in four years.

"Eastern in 4" has existed as an informal objective for several years now, but recent data supporting the need for college-career planning has caused the University to revamp and mandate the program. "There are so many options and requirements in a college setting," said Alison Garewski, a professional advisor with the Advising Center. "Students unknowingly taking courses they don't need--costing them more money and prolonging their time in college--is an issue nationwide."

With nearly 1,000 freshman at Eastern this year, approximately 650 have completed their academic plans. Though the plans are designed in group sessions of five to 20 students, each four-year plan is individualized according to a student's degree requirements and preferences--taking into consideration which liberal arts courses to take, internships and study abroad opportunities.

"Every semester when registering for classes I use my four-year plan to aid in my selection," said Christina Harmon, a sophomore majoring in psychology. "'Eastern in 4' was a great way for me to learn what classes I need to take and how to stay on track in order to graduate on time."

While "Eastern in 4" is available to all students and majors, it is especially useful to transfer students, continuing education students and those switching majors. "This program is ideal at Eastern because we're a liberal arts school," said Chris Drewry, a professional advisor with the Advising Center. "Students are required and encouraged to take courses outside of their major, so having this direction is really helpful."

"Before making my 'Eastern in 4' plan, I had no idea if I could fit a double major's worth of classes into my schedule," said Thomas Hacker, a freshman with a double major. "Now I have a roadmap to double major in music and communication in four years."

EES Defeats Political Science in College Bowl Competition

Written by Dwight Bachman


On March 12, the Eastern College Bowl completed its 37th consecutive season.  Held in the Student Center Theatre, the College Bowl is a competition for undergraduates representing various majors.

The championship match saw the lead exchanged several times, a match that was not decided until the final question. The team representing the Environmental Earth Science (EES) Department defeated the team from the Political Science Department. EES had won matches against Economics and Mathematics to reach the finals, while Political Science had won its previous matches over Biochemistry and Biology. The winning EES team included students Dustin Munson, Cody Lorentson, Daniel Grondin, and Mackensie Fannon. 

College Bowl questions asked come from many different academic and non-academic areas, often involving audio or visual clues. Questions in this year's championship match included ones involving Dante's "Inferno," Julius Caesar and his crossing the Rubicon, phobias, songs from Disney movies and one titled, "The Doors of Eastern," in which contestants were asked to identify buildings on campus after seeing photographs of their front doors.  The question that decided the winner of the 2014 College Bowl  involved the naming of Transuranium elements. 

The College Bowl is organized and run by Tim Swanson, associate professor of physical science, who originated the competition in 1978.  This year, he was assisted by Biology Professor Gloria Colurso and Marty Levin, interim dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

Education Department to Host Three Young Adult Authors

Writtten by Akaya Mcelveen

 
Education Department to Host Reading by Three Young Adult Authors
Willimantic, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University Education Department will host an event featuring three young adult authors in the Student Center Theatre from 5:30-7 p.m. on Jan. 21. Authors Chris Lynch, Brenden Kiely and Jason Reynolds will discuss their new books.

 Reynolds will be discussing his debut novel, "When I was the Greatest," which is described on the book jacket as "a gritty, triumphant debut. This stunning story captures the heart and the hardship of life for an urban teen in Bedford-Stuyvesant, NY, where a small misunderstanding can escalate into having a price on your head--even if you're totally clean." Reynolds earned a B.A. in English from the University of Maryland, College Park, before moving to Brooklyn, NY. For more information on Reynolds, visit iamjasonreynolds.com.

 Lynch will discuss his book "Little Blue Lies," which is described as a gripping novel where two teens discover the true danger of love. Lynch is the Printz Honor Award-winning author of several highly acclaimed young adult novels, including "Pieces," "Kill Switch," "Angry Young Man" and "Inexcusable," which was a National Book Award finalist and the recipient of six starred reviews. He is also the author of "Freewill," "Gold Dust," "Iceman," "Gypsy Davy," "Shadow Boxer," "Extreme Elvin Whitechurch" and "All the Old Haunts." Lynch holds an M.A. from the writing program at Emerson College. He teaches in the Creative Writing MFA program at Lesley University. He lives in Boston and in Scotland.

 Kiely will discuss his debut novel "Gospel of Winter," which is about the restorative power of truth and love after the trauma of abuse. Kiely received an MFA in creative writing from the City College of New York. His writing has appeared in "Fiction," "Guernica," "Big Bridge" and the "Mikrokosmos Literary Journal," among other publications. Originally from the Boston area, he now teaches at an independent high school and lives with his wife in Greenwich Village.
 The event is open to both the campus and community members. Community members may park in the Parking garages or student center lots.

Ready to Climb

Written by Akaya McElveen

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Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC) recently introduced two climbing walls for its preschool children; the wall are documented in the short film, "Ready to Climb: Bringing the Climbing Walls to the CFDRC."

"Ready to Climb" was produced by Eastern communication students Sarah Pierce, James Nixon, Dylan King and Attah Agyemang in their Documentary Production class taught by Denise Mathews, professor of communication. Students gained hands-on experience in directing, field shooting, conducting interviews, editing and other production skills. The video will be used to highlight to prospective families and students some of the experiences available to children at the CFDRC.

The indoor and outdoor climbing walls serve to support children's cognitive, social-emotional, creative and physical development, and provide critical experiential learning opportunities for Eastern students who hope to work with young children in their careers. Niloufar Rezai, director of the CFDRC and Darren Robert, professor of Health and Physical Education, detail the benefits of the addition of the climbing walls, citing risk-taking and peer motivation as a few. For instance, children in the center use the climbing walls to improve their hand-eye coordination, said Rezai.

Health and Physical Education students Teresa Rozycki, Mattie Brett and Josh Tamosaitis appear in the video as they work to support the children. Claudia Ahearn, CFDRC lead teacher, also appears in the video.  
The climbing walls were made possible through the support of the ECSU Foundation.

Written by Akaya McElveen

 

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The Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC), which serves children ages 18 months to 5 years, recently unveiled two climbing walls; one indoors and one outdoors.  The climbing walls will be used to carry out the CFDRC's mission to foster children's cognitive, social-emotional, creative, and physical development.  The climbing walls are expected to help preschoolers build confidence and gain a sense of accomplishment, socially and emotionally by having them work collaboratively and cooperatively.

Physically, the children will be able to develop upper body strength; increase eye-hand coordination; and develop a better sense of how to move their bodies in a space. Cognitively, the wall is expected to develop spatial awareness; allow for literacy/numeracy development through the use of magnetic letters and shapes; and expand children's oral language. Finally, the climbing wall will help children move their bodies in expressive ways fostering pretend and imaginative play.

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The CFDRC is also using this opportunity to provide experiential opportunities for Eastern students.  Under the guidance of Health and Physical Education Professor Darren Roberts, students in physical education will develop and implement lesson plans surrounding the climbing walls, affording valuable experiences in teaching, as well as individualizing based on children's needs. In addition, Communication Professor Denise Matthews is supervising students in the production of a documentary video featuring the climbing walls from their inception to their use with children and staff.

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