Community Fellow Kimberly Taylor ‘20 Connects Classroom and Career with Walla Walla Public Schools 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC)

Hello! My name is Kimberly Taylor, and I am a Psychology and Computer Science double major. This year, I am a community fellow with Walla Walla Public Schools 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC). 21st CCLC is an after-school program centered around developing resilience in students. Programming includes art and STEM related activities, physical activities, literacy skills, and socioemotional development.

Currently, I work one day a week at the after-school programs of 3 elementary schools. I enjoy being able to connect with students and help lead activities. The programming varies at each school, and it has been interesting to see how each site coordinator puts their personal spin on the program. I have been inspired by the dedication and enthusiasm of each site coordinator and other mentors who work at the programs to make each student feel valued and help them have a positive experience. One of the schools I work at has an escape room club, where students work together to create their own version of an escape room. I love supporting students during this activity because it allows their creativity to shine. My fellowship also includes a research component. I will be helping conduct survey based research with students focused on measuring several dimensions of resilience. I am collaborating with a group of researchers which has been an excellent way for me to connect what I am learning in school with “real world” experience. This blog post will focus on some of the ways my experiences in the classroom at Whitman have prepared me for this fellowship.

Psychology Research Methods: This course is focused on the process of conducting psychology research from start (literature reviews) to finish (publishing a paper and going to research conferences). Many concepts I learned in this course have contributed to my understanding of the research component of my fellowship. For example, when we had to get IRB (Institutional Review Board) approval for our research, I knew about the different elements of an IRB proposal. In discussions with the researchers we are working with, I have been able to understand their concerns about validity, reliability, and think about how our study design could be changed to help mitigate possible limitations to validity and reliability.

Introduction to Computational Problem Solving: This introductory computer science course taught me about basic programming. I came into this class with no previous knowledge about coding, and that experience made me think about how programming is taught to a novice learner. At the after-school programs, students use Spheros (light up spheres that roll around and can be controlled remotely) to learn basic principles of coding. It has been interesting to think about how computer science can be taught at many different levels in schools. This experience has made me interested in being a computer science/technology teacher for elementary or middle/high school students.

Developmental Psychology: Learning different theories of child development in this course has influenced how I interact with kids. Many factors can influence how students perceive the world around them and being a dependable, caring presence in a students life can be very important for their development. My experiences working with students have also made me think about how developmental and educational psychology research can inform better teaching practices at schools.

I am looking forward to continuing to learn more as my fellowship continues next semester. This experience has been a rich opportunity to explore my career interest in education outside the classroom.

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