The community outreach practicum is an opportunity for students to enhance their professional and personal development by gaining practical, real-world experience in their field, by exploring career interests, and by learning more about children and families and the support services available to them. As well, the practicum is an opportunity to contribute to the work of the host agency. To learn more about practicum opportunities, click here.
April 21, 2017
MEET Amy at Sequoyah Hills Early Enrichment Program
“If I were to sum up my placement in a song title it would be.. “Every Day is a New Day”
One piece of advice I would give myself pre-practicum self? I would definitely tell myself to go to bed early and drink plenty of water. Working in the preschool profession you don’t usually get a moment to do anything for yourself. There are some days were I don’t even get a chance to eat my lunch because the children always come first. Since I am working directly under the Director, I also would tell my self to be ready to handle more than one thing at a time which means to plan for
the unexpected everyday.
My most meaningful experience so far was going into one of the classrooms and assisting a child with learning how to write. We were able to work one on one and even if it was only for fifteen minutes, I believe after our session this child was very proud of himself and completely eager to show his parents his progress. I truly believe every moment is an opportunity to change a child’s learning experience.”
April 17, 2017
MEET Kathryn at Big Brothers Big Sisters!
“Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.” –Josh Shipp
Advice: If I had to give myself some advice before starting my practicum, I think I would tell myself to prepare. Prepare for long days, hard days, and days that may not seem as “meaningful” or “impactful” as you’d like them to be. Prepare to be on a schedule that is not-so-typical for a college student. Prepare to push yourself… to engage, to take initiative, to be positive. Prepare to be a strong and needed presence in your practicum site. Finally, prepare to make the most of your experience!
Most Meaningful Experience: My most meaningful experience happened just a couple of days ago while I was calling a reference for a volunteer. I was on the phone with this man for almost 20 minutes because he could not stop speaking so highly of his wife. He raved about her dedication, faithfulness, and kind heartedness that he couldn’t wait for her to share with a Little Brother or Little Sister. While tearfully explaining his belief in the power of mentoring, I was encouraged that Big Brothers Big Sisters would be matching a wonderful woman like this to a child in need of a positive influence in his or her life!”
“Movie tagline: “Take chances and make mistakes”
A piece of advice that I would give to my pre-practicum self would be to have an open mind. My experience at the Family Justice Center has been new, overwhelming, exciting, scary, sad,
happy, and so much more. As time has gone, my confidence in myself and what I am capable of has grown. However, I wish that I had taken more chances in the very start of my practicum,
which is easier said than done in a completely new environment. Every day I am presented with new learning opportunities, so it is important to take a leap of faith, put yourself out there, keep an open mind, and as a result you will discover how much you have grown as a person.
My most meaningful experience at the Family Justice Center so far was when a terrified, young mother of a four-year-old son came into our office. She told us, with tears in her eyes, that her
boyfriend has been abusing her for years, and she decided to break the pattern and leave him when he chose to take his anger out on their son. Her little boy has a terminally ill disease, and
this strong woman does everything in her power to give him the life that he deserves. After briefly talking with her about her situation, she then was taken back to a room by one of our
advocates where they discussed her options and how we are going to make sure she gets everything she needs. She came in that day scared, feeling hopeless and alone, and confused on
what to do, and she left the Family Justice Center with answers and hope in her eyes. Her story was so very sad, yet it was so moving to see how the help that we provide changed her and her
son’s life for the better. I am fortunate to work with an organization that makes such huge impacts on people’s lives.”
““Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody.” –Kid President
One thing I would tell my pre-practicum self is that you are going to make mistakes and it is going to be okay. This is a time that is meant to be a learning experience. You are not expected to do everything right the first time and your supervisor is there to help so it is okay to ask questions. As long as you are doing your best with a good attitude the rest will come with time. This is also a time to figure out what you like and what you don’t like so you will be able to narrow down your options when looking for a job after graduation.
My time at the Western Heights Baptist Center has been filled with
meaningful experiences. I think what sticks out to me the most is being able to go through life with these children. Investing time into building a relationship with them and really figure out what is going on in their everyday life and the challenges that they are facing. Because I see them everyday I am able to see how they grow and be able to watch how they handle different trails that come their way. It is amazing to me to see how each kid will cope with the same event in different ways. No child is the same and sometimes they just need someone to talk to about what
they are thinking. I have loved my time so far getting to build relationships and spend time with these children!”
“Play is the highest form of research” –Albert Einstein
Piece of advice to pre-practicum self: “You’re going to be okay. It is okay to not know the answer to every question you have or to not know exactly what your life is going to be like. You’ll never have all the answers. Enjoy your time now, because life is
never going to be like this again. Use this time to enjoy new experiences and learn new things. Don’t worry so much about the future because everything is going to work out. You are motivated and hardworking and it will pay off!”
Experience with impact: “While most of the patients that I have been able to interact with have impacted my life one particular patient stands out. She is a nine year old girl who was in the hospital for several days. I got to visit her a few times but on one
of her days there I was able to bring her some crafts and hang out and do them with her while her parents took a break. Her parents expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to step out and have a moment to them-selves, without having to worry about their child. She also told me several times that she was so glad I was there to hang out with her because she didn’t like being in the hospital (who does?) and she had been so bored. It doesn’t seem like much getting to just craft with someone, but seeing that it does have an impact on not only the patients but the parents as well is very rewarding.”
“I think that one quote that sums up my experience in my practicum placement is “A baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do!” Chuckie Finster (Rugrats). I would sum up my practicum with this quote because I do deal with babies a lot at my practicum placement and as it says they have to do what they have to do.
Honestly I would tell my pre-practicum self that the beginning is a learning experience and that everyone at the placement is super nice and helpful. In the beginning I was scared to ask the workers different questions because I was nervous they would think I was an idiot. But now I talk to all of them and listen to any advice they give me about dealing with the children. I also feel a lot more comfortable asking the teachers questions.
Learning about children is completely different then having the hands on experience with them. I am very thankful for the chance I am getting to be able to work with the children at the daycare. I think that interacting with the babies at the day care is preparing me more for a future as a parent but interacting with the four year olds helps prepare me for what it will kind of be like in a kindergarten classroom, which is my ultimate goal when I am done graduate school.”
March 27, 2017
“‘Hope can set you free.’
Advice I would give my pre-practicum self going into Thrive Lonsdale is to not take it all personal, and to know that just showing up is enough. It is easy to feel incompetent or feel like you let a child down if they are upset with you, but being confident in knowing that they need consistency, and loving discipline helps so much. Just showing up and being present every day to their inconsistent, messy worlds is huge to them. Their joy makes it all worth it!
My most meaningful experience so far was talking to a little girl in my class about her family life. She has a bad home life and has recently been really sad about it all. After class one day I got to sit and talk with her and share parts of my story, and we got to be friends and share our life experiences together rather than just be a teacher and a student. It made me really thankful for my own story to be able to relate to other kids, and made me desire relationships outside of the classroom even more.”
March 14, 2017
MEET Rachel at Kingston Academy
“‘Just keep swimming!’ – Dory, Finding Nemo
If I could go back in time and give myself advice before starting my practicum, it would be to relax and take each day as it comes. At KA, every day is different and progress is SLOW, but it’s happening! I chose a practicum site that is hands-on and different because I wanted to learn something new. I knew it would be hard but it has been such a rewarding experience for me, and now I have a newly discovered passion! The practicum is an opportunity
to step out of your comfort zone and discover yourself, so embrace it!
My most meaningful experience so far has definitely been helping out with a program called café. In this program, 2-3 children are selected to help prepare lunch for staff on Fridays. Each week they cook something different and are learning new skills and how to use different equipment. They serve the staff just like at a restaurant so they are able to learn customer service too! It’s a really cool program that has allowed me to watch these kids
become more independent.”
“Tagline: Nooo!! I wasn’t ready, but you gone learn today! (Kevin Hart)
My Pre-practicum advise to myself would be to remain flexible! So many events vin life that have been out of my control have forced me to re-invent and re-evaluate my plan for completing this practicum! I have now learned that not everything will always go as planned, and I must adapt to each change in a patient and positive manner.
My most meaningful experience so far would have to be aiding an expecting mother and program participant in securing a home, as well as a high-paying career after the birth of her child that also offers childcare assistance as a benefit! This may seems mall to some, but as a mother myself I understand and completely value the opportunity that this young lady has been given. Not only has she secured a home for herself and her new born baby girl, she will now be placed into a stable career that promises a wonderful future for her and her entire family! Stories like this absolutely serve as fuel to keep me going even on my toughest days, and for that I am extremely grateful!”
“‘You’ve got a friend in me’
I would tell myself to have an open mind. Don’t be afraid or hesitant to branch out of your comfort zone when choosing a placement site. I am so thankful that I took a leap of faith and chose a site that was different than anything I’d done before because I have absolutely fallen in love with what I do. I never would’ve known to pursue a career at a healthcare facility without this experience.
There is a lady who constantly walks around the hallways and will not usually sit for long. She has some dementia and doesn’t talk much. During one of our activities called “Cards and Coloring,” this woman came in the room and grabbed ahold of my hands. I asked her to color me a picture in hopes that she would sit down and rest for a bit. She said, “I’m too scared I’ll mess it up.” I spent time encouraging her and telling her there was no way she could mess it up. Finally, she began coloring a picture of a butterfly. I was able to keep her seated and occupied for a while, and it felt great to help her overcome her anxiety and relax.”
“‘The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.’ –Mulan
Advice: Study the client’s experiences and diagnoses so you know why they react/act the way that they do. Do extra research to be well-educated.
Meaningful Experience: My most meaningful experience so far has been seeing the kids change so fast. One client came in not being aware of other’s personal space, but has now learned in a few short weeks that she needs to ask her friends for hugs, to hold hands, or to play rather than impulsively doing those things.”
February 7, 2017
MEET Chandler at ETCH!
““You Are My Sunshine”
If I had to give myself some advice before going to the hospital, I would say be prepared for lots of walking, for long days, and for hard days. I would tell myself to embrace each day with the most positive attitude I can because those kids need it as well as their families. Going into each day with the attitude that it is a brand-new day can bring a smile to someone’s face which is what makes it worth it.
My most meaningful experience was when I got to talk with a psych patient who had been in the ER for a couple of days. She was 14 years old and I just got to sit in her room and color with her while she opened up about her life which was meaningful because she just needed someone to talk to and I had the opportunity to be that person.”
January 30, 2017
MEET McKenzie at Knoxville Family Justice Center
“Expect the Unexpected”
Tips to her pre-practicum self: “Don’t be so hard on yourself, growing up is scary. This is the best time of your life and you are trying to figure out what you want to do with your life or how this experience is going to help you grow as a person. Be wise when you are making decisions and never second guess yourself. You are smarter than you think. You have worked for this and this is your time to show what you know. Be confident and it will show.”
Experience with impact: “A woman came in with her child one day and he was really little and very busy. She was upset and confused about the situation she was currently in and he was clearly stressing her out. I went in to help her and took him to play. She looked at me and was so appreciative of me for taking him out of the room for a few minutes so she could concentrate on her situation. When she came out she shook my hand and told thank you and her eyes filled with tears… This has been a very meaningful experience for me thus far and just showed me how useful my position is and how many things I can potentially be doing throughout the day.”