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Neshonda at Wesley House

Child and Family Studies Community Outreach Practicum Student Updates

Community Outreach Practicum

The community outreach practicum is an opportunity for students to enhance their CO practicum Group Shotprofessional 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.

Neshonda at Wesley House

June 27, 2017

MEET Neshonda at Wesley House Community Center

If you have any questions for Neshonda or about the Community Outreach Practicum, please email!

“If you were to sum up your placement in one tagline/movie quote/song title, what would it be? The truth is often stranger than we could have imagined

What is one piece of advice you would give your pre-practicum self?
***Everything you’re going through is preparing you for what you asked for. All the stress, long nights, and hard days are leading to something greater than you can imagine. ***

Describe your most meaningful experience so far.
Working with these kids is nothing short of amazing. Getting to interact and play with them makes the day go by faster and it really makes my heart warm when they run up to me yelling my name just for a hug. ”

Ayana at Starting Points Child CareJune 22, 2017

MEET Ayana at Starting Points Childcare

“Adventure Time! One piece of advice that I would give to my pre-practicum self is to always be on your toes. These children, especially the infants and toddlers, are very adventurous and curious. This world is still very new to them and they want to experience everything. They seek to see, touch, and and taste all that they can. They are explorers ready to conquer the world and we must be there to guide them away from danger while assisting them in their adventure.

There are numerous meaningful experiences that happen every day at Starting Points. These children grow and develop at a rapid pace making it enjoyable to come to work. There is one child who cried, nonstop, every day after his parents dropped him off and now he’s enjoying playing with his new friends. He even uttered a couple of words which made me extremely pleased and excited. Knowing that I played a part of that is what makes this job meaningful to me. Working with these children has done nothing but reinforce my desire to teach. Their growth means so much to me and I want to play a part in that.”

Brownie at Helen Ross McNabb

June 12, 2017                                    

MEET Brownie at Helen Ross McNabb!

If you have any questions for Brownie or about the CO Practicum, please email!

“The movie line I would choose to sum up my placement is “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” This was said by John Keating in Dead Poets Society (1989). This line is so relevant to my placement because here at Helen Ross McNabb we are truly changing the world. We are changing lives of tons of people. We are helping people be who they want to be. As we have meetings to discuss events and fundraisers we are going to host, we all collaborate and brainstorm. Having only been here several weeks, I have already given lots of ideas to the people I work with and I have made an impact which feels great.

What is one piece of advice you would give your pre-practicum self?
Go to sleep earlier. I never realized how exhausted I would be after working so hard every week day. This is the most serious job I’ve ever had time commitment wise and sleep is so crucial I have learned.

My most meaningful experience so far has been participating in my first event. We hosted a golf tournament several weeks back and raised over $60,000 for Helen Ross McNabb. This tournament was a lot of work to put on but it felt so good to be able to be a part of such an important fundraiser for our program.”

Kelsey at Helen Ross McNabbApril 26, 2017

MEET Kelsey at Helen Ross McNabb ~Healthy Families & Therapeutic Preschool

“I would tell myself to learn to manage your time better.

My most meaningful moment would have to be in the preschool. It was the first time I was able to see one of our kids graduate from the program. Hearing the stories of why some of the children are there are truly heartbreaking and then to see them overcome all of the obstacles they have been put through was really special. ”

Amy at her practicum site

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 my 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.”

Kathryn at Big Brothers Big Sisters

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!”

Mary Anna at Family Justice CenterApril 12, 2017
MEET Mary Anna at Family Justice Center

“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.”

Greer at Baptist CenterApril 10, 2017
MEET Greer at Western Heights Baptist Center

““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!”

Jane at Children's HospitalApril 7, 2017
MEET Jane at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital-Child Life

“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.”

Starting Points Child Care - JacquelynApril 4, 2017
MEET Jacquelyn at Starting Points Child Care.

“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

MEET Savannah at Thrive LonsdaleSavannah at Thrive

“‘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.”

Rachel Harr at Kingston Academy

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.”

QaadiraFebruary 21, 2017
MEET Qaadira at Knoxville Leadership Foundation

“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!”

February 14, 2017NHC
MEET Kari at National Healthcare Corporation

“‘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.”

Helen Ross McNabb Center February 10, 2017
MEET Terilyn at Helen Ross McNabb

“‘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.”

Welcome to Children's Hospital

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.”

Knoxville Justice Center

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.”