Teachers are instrumental in providing opportunities for youth to succeed academically, socially, and personally, says education professor Geri Salinitri. That realization inspired the Leadership Experience for Academic Directions program, the first service learning project in the UWindsor Faculty of Education.
A new book explores the many facets of the teaching profession as they relate to working with in-risk youth and helping them reach their full potential.
The Handbook of Research on Leadership Experience for Academic Direction (LEAD) Programs for Student Success reflects on more than 10 years of helping teachers to understand the challenges facing youth through globalization, economic uncertainties, and social inequities.
“All our children have the potential to succeed,” Dr. Salinitri says. “They do have hopes and dreams, even those in risk of failure will succeed with the supports they need.”
The project took shape as a collaboration with human kinetics professor Victoria Paraschak and alumnae Linda Staudt and Kathleen Furlong, administrators with the London District Catholic School Board. It placed teacher candidates in classrooms across Essex County, working with student success teachers to provide one-on-one mentorship to students.
“Building relationships is the key to making a difference,” says Salinitri. “And as we educate people, we reduce poverty, we reduce crime. It’s about expanding our human capital across society.”
The book is the product of research by teacher candidates who completed the program and have gone on to graduate study and careers in education. It addresses topics as varied as social learning theory, mental health, school counselling, and outdoor and experiential education.
Salinitri hopes that it will help to spread awareness of the successes this approach has sparked among educators and students. She will be retiring from the University in June, and says she hopes the LEAD program wins emulators provincially and nationally.
“I wouldn’t mind at all for this to be my legacy,” she says.