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Telling Their Stories 

Fifth graders will tell their stories through writing, art and drama.

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 9, 2019) – UAlbany student volunteers will welcome a class of fifth graders from New Scotland Elementary School to campus tomorrow as part of the second annual Skribblers-Project MyStory “I Am” storytelling workshop.

A group of 10 UAlbany undergrad and graduate students from a wide range of majors planned the event under the supervision of Assistant Professor Tammy Ellis-Robinson of the School of Education and Rachel Moody from the Center for International Education and Global Strategy. Ellis-Robinson is also the executive director of Skribblers Magazine Inc., a nonprofit literary organization for children 12 and younger.

The elementary school students will tell their stories through writing, art and drama.

UAlbany sophomore Robert Mornan helped out with the workshop last year, and found it so rewarding he continued to work with Skribblers.

“Organizing this event has allowed me the opportunity to gain skills such as team building, planning and coordination, understanding a role and being able to carry it out efficiently,” said Mornan, a computer science and cybersecurity major from the Bronx.

“This exposure to college is important for fifth graders because it plants the seed for future opportunities. Interacting with students from various majors and hearing about our experiences can inspire the younger generation. Most students don’t think about college at such a young age, so being able to see college students and visit a college campus can get them thinking,” he said.

Melissa Pickering, a first-year grad student in the Special Education and Literacy II program, studies under Ellis-Robinson and volunteered at her professor’s suggestion.

“I’m already working with elementary students in the field, but this project allows me to explore creating lessons for students outside of the traditional classroom setting,” Pickering said. “We’re able to design a really fun, engaging day devoted to the arts, which is one of my passions that I’m not always able to find the time to explore with my students.”

Ellis-Robinson noted, “Integrating work with students here at the University to include community work through Skribblers Magazine Inc. provides context and authenticity for the valuing of education, equity and public engagement. In addition to applications to education careers they might be most familiar with, such as teaching, our University students can see intersections of work with community and support of children that require a variety of skill sets including technology, collaboration, artistry, writing and leadership.”

Thierno Diallo, a senior math major and statistics minor from Brooklyn, N.Y. said, “Through this project I am able to see how kids who grew up in a different inner city environment behave. In addition I can get a sense of how their environment shaped them. I’m learning it takes team effort to really create a spectacular event,” Diallo said.

“This conference provides a short-term opportunity for UAlbany students to explore a potential career, by working with local teachers and their students,” Moody said. She became involved while acting as coordinator for Project MyStory, a community building initiative of the Academic Support Center, where Moody was previously an academic advisor.

“One of the senior student volunteers from last year’s conference was thinking about teaching as a career but was very hesitant. He decided to volunteer to help him decide. He is now a teaching assistant, preparing to apply to graduate school. Our volunteers considering a career in K-12 have a great mentor in Tammy,” Moody said.

The program aligns with the University’s strategic plan goals by enhancing the UAlbany student experience in and out of the classroom, and by integrating teaching and experiential education through service learning. Students are able to earn community and service credit for their participation.

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