GENESEO – SUNY Geneseo is institutionalizing a new education program for Livingston County elementary students this summer with the help of undergraduates from Istanbul, Turkey.
Four undergraduate students from Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey, are involved this summer in the SUNY Geneseo School of Education’s ‘Soaring Stars’ learning program for elementary-age students in rural areas.
“We are delighted to have these students and future educators from Turkey with us this summer,” said “Soaring Stars” Program Director Annmarie Urso, Associate Professor of Education at Geneseo. “The knowledge and diversity they have brought to the program have been beneficial to all of us and is a terrific illustration of the value these kind of exchange programs provide.”
Students Elif Yeşil, Nilüfer Ileri and Ahsen Çini are elementary science education teacher candidates, and Elif Büyükögütçü, is an early childhood education major. They are the first group of students participating in a new student and faculty exchange program between the Ella Cline Shear School of Education and Bogazici University. They are working alongside the faculty and staff of the ‘Soaring Stars’ program, including teachers, graduate students and undergraduate students. The students spend their time observing the program, conducting independent research that will support ‘Soaring Stars’ programming as well as the success of the children. Additionally, they are taking coursework.
The cohort of students this year come from the following school districts: Caledonia-Mumford, Avon, Livonia, Geneseo, York, Mount Morris, Dansville, Perry, and Wayland-Cohocton. The program takes place at Mount Morris Elementary School and is funded through the continued support and contributions of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership and component participating school districts, the Wilson Foundation, the Community Foundation, the Feinbloom Supporting Foundation, the United Way of Livingston County, the Office of the Provost, the Geneseo Foundation, the Ella Cline Shear School of Education and the Greater Rochester Summer Learning Association.
‘Soaring Stars’ is in its fifth year and is serving 68 rising K-5th-grade students from Livingston, Wyoming, and Steuben counties, many of whom have families facing economic challenges. Children have been attending the summer program at Mount Morris Elementary School five days a week for six hours a day during a five-week period, which will end Aug. 5.
Educators hope the experience will increase the students’ chances of graduating from high school being college and career ready.
Urso and her team of teachers, teaching assistants, graduate students, and undergraduate students employ instruction inspired by the Reggio Emilia education philosophy, which encourages children to develop individual interests and explore them using art, music, drama, inquiry-based projects, and physical activities.
“The environment becomes as important as the teacher,” said Urso, “and the teacher helps the children follow their interests. The approach is grounded in the surrounding community and sees families as integral to the child’s academic success.”