The click and clatter of metal lockers rang out as students swarmed the halls with their day about to end. Their noisy chatter loudly bounces off the walls. “Thank goodness the day is over,” one student said with a sigh as another nods in agreement.
The excitement has ended and all that is left are the memories of the day as the whispers slowly trickle down to the sound of the janitor sweeping the floor.
Tucked away in the heart of Castleton, lies the Castleton Village School. On the outside, the school looks like any other red-brick building around the area, with the exception of a sign made of glass tiles with the school’s name etched in white surrounding a deep blue sea of colors.
On the inside, phones are ringing, adults are talking, teachers are teaching and the whispers of children flood the corridors.
Albert Rousse says these voices are those of the future.
Rousse, principal of the school, sits as his desk every day looking to enhance the endeavors of the children. He has a bookshelf where he keeps binders of information on work his students have done. Like a proud dad, he shows off a newsletter that some of his students recently completed.
Rousse said he hopes all his students further their education – maybe even at Castleton State College less than a quarter mile away.
Building a partnership
Castleton Village School is situated so close to the college and Rousse feels that the more his students are exposed to the college students the more they will receive from them.
“I’ve got great kids and it’s fun because this is a great community and it’s important to let them know, hey there’s a future for me,” said Rousse.
He beamed as he mentioned some of his most talented students and how they could gain from exposure to college students, which is why he’s helping foster a relationship between students working on the newsletter and students working on the college’s newspaper, The Spartan.
“Any time young students can be exposed to higher education everyone is benefited,” said Rousse.
Real life experience
Saturday mornings for most kids are spent watching cartoons like Superman. They imagine themselves saving people from harmful enemies. Rousse feel that his students will benefit from the local college students spending time with them to keep then away from harmful things they may encounter.
“I want them to see real life work and not just someone with a homework assignment,” said Rousse.
His students have been working on many projects at the school, including Voices of the Village, is the newsletter he proudly displays.
“The newspaper is very important to me since most students are lost because they don’t read the paper,” he said.
Rousse, last semester, said he hoped to collaborate in the future with the college students to expose them to the things that they are interested in, like the newspaper. Bonnie Bean, a teacher at the village school, said that more college students can help “mentor” her students, the more they will learn.
Bean also smirked as she said that students will respond better to college student’s advice, than advice from teachers or their peers.
“Kids get kind of defensive when it comes to things like this,” Bean said with a smile.
Even though Castleton students and professors already participate in volunteering at the school, Rousse weeks ago said he would love to enhance the relationship between the two.
Castleton academic Dean Joe Mark, feels the same way.
“I’ve become increasingly committed to our college’s reaching out into and extending our resources to the community. I think we have a responsibility as a public institution to try to make our region better. In a sense, the college needs to think of itself a citizen of the town, state, and region.”
Now, both of their desires are coming true.
Rousse, through grant money and discussion with Journalism Professor David Blow, has hired Castleton Freshman Janet Gillett, an active member of The Spartan newspaper, to oversee and guide his students in their work on the school newsletter.
Just the beginning?
Jan Rousse, assistant director of Community Service and Internships for the college, has seen the relationship between the two blossom.
“In the past, the partnership has been good, but the future will be even better,” she said with her trademark jubilant smile.
Her effort along with that of Chrispin White, director of Community Service and Internships, has made an impact on the school. Through their efforts, some students are helping students at the Village School, primarily with math and science.
Jan Rousse said that the situation is “a win/win” for both school because they are connected.
However, many want more involvement with in the school. Bean’s face lit up at the thought. She said emphatically that Castleton is “unique” because everything is in walking distance and for this reason she hopes more students become involved.
Rousse, the principal, said he hopes for “learning trips” to the college while White hopes for a “college day” so that his students who are interested in a particular field can be exposed to their interests.
“We want to give them an early taste,” said White.
Nick McKelvie’s eyes widen and face got energized at the idea of working with Spartan staffers. McKelvie is the copy editor for the Voices of the Village, the Village School paper.
Mark said feels increased collaboration between younger and older students on like interests just makes sense.
“When a student who’s studying Spanish, say, is asked to bring her growing knowledge and passion for Spanish language and culture to, say, elementary school children who might not otherwise have the opportunity for an enrichment experience, all parties benefit. The elementary school child’s education is enhanced, but experience shows us that the Castleton student gains a great deal from this form of outreach too,” he said.
“The relationship is expanding, but we are making it stronger and more stable. They see college students as role models and if they give advice hopefully the students will heed it,” said White.