Twelve students who are part of the NC State College of Education’s Students Advocating for Youth (SAY) Village traveled to Charleston, S.C., over Fall Break to serve youth in underserved communities. In the past, the annual trip has been to Washington, D.C., but SAY directors chose to change the destination to Charleston this year in an effort to make the trip more of a service experience for the students.
“This trip will shape me as an educator by providing me with a different perspective on education than I may have received otherwise — reminding me that all students deserve to be treated equitably in order to help them become as successful as possible,” said Jana Hunter ’23, a Teaching Fellow and agricultural education major.
What is SAY Village?
SAY Village is a living and learning village affiliated with the NC State College of Education that connects NC State students with underserved K-12 students for after-school mentoring.
First- and second-year SAY students visited with youth-serving organizations in the Charleston area. On Thursday, Oct. 10, the group spent the day at Windwood Farm Home for Children, Inc., a residential facility for abused and neglected boys ages six to 16, in Awendaw, S.C.
At the farm, students provided manual labor by assisting with cleaning up the grounds in and around the schoolhouse and landscaping. They also interacted with many of the younger boys through helping with chores, such as raking and putting down pine straw.
“I learned that every student is different. One of the main principles of my teaching philosophy is treating students equitably rather than equally,” Hunter said. “While at Windwood Farm, I noticed that some students enjoyed playing in groups while others preferred to work one-on-one. Although it did not take place in a classroom setting, this behavior shows that different students need different treatment to be successful.”
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On Friday, Oct. 11, the group spent the day working with Wings for Kids, a national after-school program that promotes the healthy development of at-risk elementary students through social and emotional learning. Located in two schools within the North Charleston area, half of the SAY students served at Chicora Elementary and the other half at North Charleston Elementary.
“I think this Fall Break trip is important because it gives SAY students, and College of Education students in general, a way to look at education, youth advocacy and at-risk through a lens that they typically don’t have,” said Robin McWilliams, director of the SAY Village and Community Youth Partnerships. “It enables them to experience non-traditional education settings.”