When Harrah Elementary staff first heard about Primary Project, they instantly knew it was a support service they wanted to offer students experiencing mild school adjustment difficulties. Harrah Elementary is unique among primary schools in Washington State. Housed on the Yakama Indian Nation, Harrah Elementary serves 563 students in grades pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, 52% of whom are Native American, 38% Hispanic or Latino, and 5% White. Over 90% of the school population is low-income and 71 students are identified as homeless.
I love being a trainer. I train teachers and administrators in high quality practices for early childhood classrooms based on highly researched assessment tools. Observing and using assessment tools in classrooms is an honor, but to have teachers take extra time out of their day to come to training, in pursuit of enhancing the quality of education in their classroom, is a thrill.
Within Children’s Institute I have the opportunity to train both new and experienced teachers as well as administrators. I train locally and throughout New York State. There is a common thread. Everyone I meet who works to educate young children cares about what they do. They honestly believe that their role is important, and I consider it my job to support them in that effort.
As both a Research Associate for Children's Institute and a Track and Field Coach for Nazareth College, Dr. Charles Infurna lives at an interesting crosspoint of data-driven adolescent interaction. Having worked in middle and high school environments as a teacher for years before coming to work at Children's Insitute, Dr. Infurna has a unique perspective about how physical activity and physical play can help students develop resilience in the face of disappointment as well as an understanding of process vs. outcome goals.
A few days ago the sun was shining and my family decided it was finally safe to set up the trampoline the kids had received for Christmas (never mind that there is now a coating of snow on my driveway!). So we all trucked out together and hauled the pieces to the spot we had selected. Everyone played a role in setting it up. My oldest (11) read the instructions with my husband. The youngest (4) handed out screws and tools. My 8 year old fit parts together and wielded the special tool they gave us to get the springs to connect the mat to the frame. It was a rare team effort. No one (well, mostly) got frustrated, everyone got their hands on the project, and in the end we had a completed trampoline that we got to use all afternoon. The kids were even more excited about the end result because they had helped create it. In reflecting on the whole experience, I tried to figure out why it was such a success, as it could have easily ended in frustration, yelling, and a half built trampoline. I realize what worked were three things: 1) my husband and I did a better than usual job of allowing everyone to choose an authentic and important role to play; 2) it was a hands on project that got us all using our bodies and our minds; and 3) there was a tangible end result that offered some value to each person.
Can you describe your role at Children’s Institute and how the work that you do supports the whole child – socially, emotionally, and physically?
I’ve had several roles at Children’s Institute starting way back in the early 1990s when we were still Primary Mental Health Project and housed on Mt. Hope Avenue. Over the years I have been part of study teams investigating the long term efficacy of prevention programs and the impact of a wide range of interventions. I spent about 10 years as a researcher in the Department of Pediatrics at Golisano Children’s Hospital where I broadened my understanding of community health and how it affects children's well-being.