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Student teaching: South Washington County high-schoolers paired with elementary students in 4-H program

Titi Kawonise reads "Brand New Kid" to second-graders, a story about how students were kind when a new student came to their school. When Kawonise finished reading, sh asked students questions about the story. Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner

Titi Kawonise and Lydia Andu got involved with the 4-H Youth Teaching Youth program because, as International Baccalaureate diploma candidates at Park High School, they are required to do community service.

They also like kids.

Brittany Clausen, one of approximately 40 Youth Teaching Youth participants in School District 833 and the Stillwater School District, joined because her friend, Titi, talked to her about it.

"And I really like kids," Clausen said.

The teen teachers received instruction on how to present two programs to youngsters at Pine Hill and Pullman elementary schools for three one-hour weekly sessions as part of 4-H Youth Teaching Youth.

Second- and third-graders were taught "Character Counts," which stresses values of trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

Fourth-grade students were taught about making good decisions about drug and alcohol use through games, role-playing and discussions.

Modeled after a program that has been ongoing through Dakota County for 25 years, Washington County 4-H, through county extension, piloted the program this year through Youth Teaching Youth Coordinator Amanda Kuhn.

"It's as important for the teens as it is for the youngsters," she said.

Dan Dolan, of the Washington County 4-H Federation, said the plan is to find grant funding to pay to continue the Youth Teaching Youth program.

The cost of the three-week program was $7,026.35, not including printing and transportation, which was paid for with grants from the Katherine B. Anderson and James Kelly foundations.

At Pine Hill last week, students learned about caring, the last of their three lessons.

"Name five things you can do at home to show that you care," said Kawonise.

Among the things the young students named were walking the family dog and making their beds.

Youngsters were instructed to put one of the caring things they do on each finger of a hand on pink paper. When they were finished, they cut out the hands.

Andu found a place on a bulletin board and placed all the hands in the shape of a heart.

Kawonise read the children "Brand New Kid," a story about how kids reacted in a positive way to having a new student join their classroom.

In "musical cheers," kids went around in a circle and stood on colored square when the music stopped.

Three children were eliminated each time but not before the other youngsters said what they liked about each one.

At the end of the program, each student got a graduation certificate.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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