- FUN FEATURES
It might have been a frigid walk from Dodd Middle School to the Cheshire Public Library last Friday afternoon, but the dozen students who decided to make the trek were doing it for a good cause.
The students, part of the Future Educators of America group, were on their way to the library to participate in a holiday read-aloud. As the middle schoolers arrived, they quickly unfolded tables and set up chairs for their “students” who were anxiously awaiting the afternoon session. The members of the FEA, a group that prepares students for careers in education, were set to read two stories to a group of youngsters and teach a craft that they designed. As the members of FEA finished setting up, waves of two- and three-year-olds filed into the Mary Baldwin Room for the program. They were greeted by two Dodd students who filled out name tags and escorted them to different reading circles.
When everyone was settled, seventh-grader Marissa Nazzaro had all eyes on her. She smiled, wished everyone ‘Happy holidays,’ and opened up the first book, Gingerbread Baby. Some of the younger children chimed in that they read it before, but were eager to hear the story again, especially when it was told by one of the big kids.
Nazzaro projected her voice and showcased the book’s colorful illustrations to her students. As she finished up the tale, the youngsters applauded her efforts.
Future Educators of America is open to Dodd students in grades 7 and 8 who are interested in pursuing a career in education. During the course of the year, students create lesson plans, attend educational workshops, and participate in events around school, such as Teacher Appreciation Week. They even formed a Relay For Life walk team and raised thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society.
Anna Gleason, 12, joined the Future Educators of America this year for the first time. The seventh-grader said the group is preparing her for a future in education or, at the very least, a career working with children. She said she “remembers being that age” at the read-aloud and how “much fun” it was to work with teachers who made things interesting. With FEA, Gleason said she was “learning a lot and having a lot of fun.”
“I really like being around kids. I don’t have any siblings, but I like being with them,” Gleason said. “I want to be a teacher some day. I like sharing knowledge with the younger children.”
The second story, called Snow Friends, was read by eighth-grader Peyton Spataj. As she flipped through the glittered pages, the students were focused intently on the story. As she finished up to a nice round of applause, it was time for a homemade craft that the Future Educators of America designed themselves.
Skyler Sklernarik, 13, is in her second year with the Future Educators of America. She joined last year because she heard the club was good for students who are thinking about a career in education. One day, she said, she hopes to become a teacher but, for now, she is just enjoying her time with the group and learning as much as she can.
“I really like it. Everyone is really nice,” she explained. “I like working with kids. I always have a lot of fun.”
As the youngsters gathered around the table, FEA members demonstrated how to make the gingerbread house, but it wasn’t as you’d expect. Using old, rinsed-out milk cartons, the students transformed the cardboard containers into crafty creations. Applying a liberal amount of frosting on the outside, some graham crackers were adhered to the sides. Then, gumdrops, hard candies, and marshmallows were attached to the grahams as innovative and original decorations. A small ribbon was attached to the top of the newly created gingerbread house and the students brought home some festive flair, just in time for the holidays.
Eighth-grader Kellie Moran, 13, said she enjoys all the activities in which the FEA participates. She particularly likes being involved in the read-alouds, which are done a few times each year. She added that raising money through the group for different charities was something of which she is very proud.
“I want to be a teacher or some kind of group leader,” Moran explained. “I like working with little kids and this program helps me with that.”