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Interns from STEP program helping first-graders at Oak View

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014 12:39 p.m. CDT
(Photo provided)
STEP intern Jessika Cannon works with Oak View first-graders Bianca Hicks (from left), Dahlys Mitchell and Joshua Shanahan during one of her twice-a-week visits to the Bolingbrook elementary school.

BOLINGBROOK – A new internship program at Oak View Elementary School involving three students from Valley View’s Secondary Transition Experience Program is paying big dividends.

The partnership began last fall when Jessika Cannon began working twice a week for four hours each day as a teacher’s assistant in Leslie Kressin’s first-grade classroom.

“When I walked into her classroom, I was nervous and excited. I didn’t know what to expect,” Cannon said. “I found working with children was fun.”

“She was ready to jump right in and help with whatever was needed,” Kressin said. “She’s an asset to our classroom environment. The students love working with her and look up to her. She’s a great role model; she always has a smile on her face and brings positive energy into our classroom.”

Cannon mostly assists in literacy centers, according to Kressin. She quizzes students on sight words, she helps students find the correct answers to questions posed during non-fiction reading centers, she helps keep students on task and she handles filing, grading papers and decorating the classroom and hallways.

Her internship worked out so well that Oak View requested two more STEP interns, Arianna Owens who works in Brittany Hauppa’s room, and Brendan Whalen who works in Robin Pyrcik’s room. 

Hauppa calls Owens “a great asset to our class” and a “huge help” because “she is very kind, patient and eager to work with the first graders.”

Without Whalen, Pyrcik says, her classroom “would not be the same,” adding “the children love him and look forward to his interactions in their morning routines.”

“It’s a huge self-esteem builder for our kids and self-esteem works wonders,” said Blain Duesing, Transition Specialist for STEP. “They especially learn about reliability because they have to be there every Monday and Wednesday. I don’t think any of them have missed a day since they started and they’ve never been late.”

The VVSD STEP program is designed to help eligible young adults in Bolingbrook and Romeoville learn vocational and life skills. 

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