Monday, 13 January 2014

Uplifting Our Youngest Community Members: A Look at USchool

USchool Students Explore UAlberta
Exploring campus and learning about the University at USchool. Photo provided by USchool.

If you’ve spent some time walking around the Education Building or CCIS, I bet you’ve noticed some pint-sized students wandering around. I first saw them when I was walking to class one day, and couldn’t help but wonder what these small children were doing on campus. I soon learned that they were taking part in the University of Alberta Senate’s USchool, which lead to the question, “what is USchool?” 

After a little digging, I was able to find out that USchool  gives socially vulnerable elementary school students the opportunity to study their classroom subjects while exploring the U of A. And much like the Faculty of Engineering’s Discover E camps and GEM (Girls, Engineering, Mentorship) programs, USchool aims to inspire children to recognize that post-secondary education could be a fun and fulfilling part of their future. 

Science experiments at UAlberta
USchool participants take in a Science FUNdamentals demonstration. Photo provided by USchool.

During a typical week at USchool, students are able to explore campus, take in presentations by special guest presenters and use their creative side during photography workshops. The students learn about all of their regular classroom subjects in a new and exciting way, and sometimes even get to go on special field trips. The students appreciate the break from their regular classroom, and are inspired by the educational experiences that are offered to them throughout the week. 

A Trip to the UAlberta Farm
Two USchool participants make a new friend during their field trip to the farm at South Campus. Photo provided by USchool.

The program also gives U of A students the opportunity to give back to the community by volunteering with the program. I had the chance to talk with three USchool volunteers, and here’s what they had to say about their volunteer experiences:

USchool Quote - University Students Teaching Children

USchool Quote - Children Experiencing University

USchool Quote - Children Explore University Life

USchool is not only a great opportunity for the young elementary students, but also an opportunity for volunteers to learn, develop professional skills, grow, and give back to the community. All of the volunteers agreed that they saw benefits in both their academic and personal lives as a result of their commitment to the program. And as Lynsdey pointed out, USchool is about "making connections with the kids [and having the chance to] totally change their mind about how they feel about school by sharing your own experiences or showing them that University really offers something for everyone."   

Click here to learn more about USchool and how you can get involved. 


About the Author

My name is Erin and I’m going into my eighth, and final, year at the University of Alberta. When I grow up, I want to be a fairy princess… but since the U of A doesn’t offer that program, I am working on completing my Bachelor of Elementary Education.

I can usually be found consuming excessive amounts of caffeine in the library, volunteering with my sorority sisters, or hitting up the latest campus events.

What I love most about the U of A is how different the experience is for everyone, and how many experiences each student can have. I hope to share my stories and yours, so that together we can discover what this amazing campus has to offer!


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