Students Become Teachers in Service Learning Project

Ashley Peterson

Ashley Peterson (BSM '11) helped teach children at Ben Franklin Elementary School about business as part of a special public service project coordinated through Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans.

Kaitlyn Basso (BSM ’11) taught 10-year-olds how to balance a checkbook. Fany Hernandez (BSM ’11) talked to kindergarten students about the value of money and the importance of saving. Alexander Fogelson (BSM ’11) helped 12-year-olds understand what goes into starting a restaurant.

Basso, Hernandez and Fogelson were among the 40 Freeman School students who introduced New Orleans public school students to business skills as part of Junior Achievement Day at Ben Franklin Elementary. The event, organized by Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans, matched teams of Freeman students with Pre-K-6th classes at Franklin, a mathematics and science school located near Tulane’s campus on Jefferson Avenue.

The program was part of a special section of the Freeman students’ Management Communications course, a unique offering that combines the traditional MCOM curriculum with a public service component. Communications instructors Ashley Nelson and Kelly Grant taught an additional weekly lab to help prepare their students to become teachers.

“We take the perspective of MCOM as strategy,” says Nelson. “You have to understand who you are talking to and what you’re trying to accomplish. The students had no idea what to say to a 6-year-old or an 8-year-old, so we had them analyze their audience. Who are these kids? What do they like? What are they into?”

Nelson says most of her students were dreading the idea of teaching as the day approached, but then something unexpected happened: They loved it.

“It was interesting to be on other side of the desk for the first time in my life, standing there in front of a class teaching,” says Fogelson. “At the end of the day, when we asked the students what they learned, I was shocked to see how much the students were able to recall from the whole day of learning. The day was incredibly fulfilling.”

“I think my favorite part was right after we took a group picture with the students,” adds Gabrielle Sanchez (BSM ’11). “They turned around and tackled me to give me a hug in appreciation—in spike heels. Thank goodness I caught the desk before I hit the floor.”

“The general consensus was, oh my gosh, this is so much fun,” Nelson says. “One student even said, ‘After I graduate, I’m going to see if I can find a JA wherever I go and do this while I’m working.’ And that’s really the point of all this, to teach students to give back.”

Nelson says the program was such a hit, plans are already in place to expand it. Grant is having her students teach at McDonogh City Park Academy in the spring semester, and Nelson plans to work again with Ben Franklin Elementary next fall.

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