Educational Resources for Children Joins Bay Path’s Community Partner Program
Three years ago, the Psychology Department reached out to area organizations to build bridges from the classroom. This Community Partner program offers experiential learning, workforce development, and a sense of the professions for which students are training. Not only is this a great opportunity for Bay Path students, but also those populations served and impacted by the organizations.
This year, Bay Path is thrilled to welcome Educational Resources for Children (ERFC), of Enfield, Connecticut as the newest Community Partner. Existing Community Partners are: the Center for Human Development, and their Terri Thomas Girls Program; The Gandara Center; Girls, Inc.; Mercy Community Health; River Valley Counseling; ServiceNet; the Springfield Jewish Community Center; and the Springfield Parent Academy, an adjunct of the Springfield Public Schools.
Kathy Wiezbicki-Stevens is the Chair of the Psychology Department, and she told Diem Dispatch that the partnerships are a “wonderful feature of our program.”
There are two opportunities within the Community Partnerships, she explained—co-ops and interns. The partnered organizations have different points of focus for needs within the community, and a sophomore co-op and a senior intern is embedded within each.
For seniors, the internship is a requirement of their coursework. For the sophomores this co-op program involves 100 hours over the course of the spring semester. “This is paid work experience,” Wiezbicki-Stevens noted. “The coop program is a great way for the sophomores to get more information about the places that are serving the needs of the community in different ways.”
Claire Hall is the Executive Director of ERFC, and she recently expressed how excited her organization is to team up with Bay Path. “Not only does this open doors for students,” she said, “but we here have the opportunity to harness their energy so we can bring that to our kids.”
Academic-based afterschool programming is a hallmark of ERFC, from life and social skills, academic support, to enrichment and recreational activities. The offerings are available on a sliding fee schedule, which distinguishes them from other such organizations.
The Bay Path intern who will be starting later this month will be part of the ERFC’s team 100 percent. “She will be working directly as an employee, as a staff person, and training under our central administrators in order to work with the kids,” Hall said. “One of our goals is to always expose children to many different people. So we can bring in that richness that a student has—the knowledge from their special fields of study—and to really build upon that. It will be lasting changes for those kids.”
For many students taking part in the Community Partnerships, often this can lead to valuable workforce development. Wiezbicki-Stevens said that not only is it a solid experience should one wish to apply for graduate school, but in some cases, the placement can turn into a job offer.
“We like to say that we’re working together to educate professionals,” she added.
It’s a true partnership, in which everyone wins.