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Eastern students give local preschoolers a summer ‘Jumpstart’

Published on August 02, 2022

Eastern students give local preschoolers a summer ‘Jumpstart’

CCE program develops pre-K skills

Kit Andersen

Muneeb Butt

Four Eastern students are spending their summer working with Willimantic children through the early childhood program known as “Jumpstart.” Through the Center for Community Engagement (CCE), Eastern’s Jumpstart students are completing 300 hours each from June through August at the Windham Regional Community Council (WRCC) Early Childhood Program.  

Elliot Lawrence
Elliot Lawrence

Jumpstart partners with college students who work to prepare preschool-aged children with the social and academic skills necessary for success in kindergarten. Eastern’s four students are completing approximately 30 hours per week with 26 children across two preschool classrooms.   

“Throughout the summer, they are trained in areas such as child development, classroom management, social justice, etc.,” said the CCE’s Brandon Martins, Jumpstart program coordinator. “This training prepares them to implement Jumpstart’s curriculum, reading storybooks and doing activities with the children that foster oral language, literacy and social-emotional skills.”   

Jumpstart is an AmeriCorps program that has trained thousands of college students and community volunteers across the country to work with young children for kindergarten success. “This program is important because it functions as a supplemental education program for preschools all across the United States,” said Liberal Studies major Elliot Lawrence ’23, who is serving as Eastern’s Jumpstart team leader.

“My future career aspiration is to become an elementary school teacher… Working with Jumpstart has given me good hands-on experience in a classroom during my undergraduate years.” 

Tashieka Sangster
Tashieka Sangster

This experience has given Social Work major Muneeb Butt ’25 new insights into the learning process. “Every child is unique, each with their own strengths, needs and passions,” he said. “This is why it is especially important to personalize your teaching style to match the child that you’re interacting with. Helping children understand not only the material but also how they feel about themselves and the environment around them is a big part of why I enjoy working with children.” 

“This program significantly improves (children’s) literacy, language and social development, which I’ve seen firsthand in a matter of weeks,” said Tashieka Sangster ’23, who is double majoring in Political Science and Criminology. “I like working with children because it’s both a teaching and learning experience all in one.” 

Social Work major Kit Andersen ’23 agrees about the program’s powerful impact. “Even in the short time that we've worked with these kids, I've already seen them develop and learn so much… I love working with kids because watching and engaging with their incredible creativity is always entertaining.”  

Written by Michael Rouleau