The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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Making a difference locally: Students bring back The Listening Post

Kelsey+Werkheiser%2C+Print+Managing+Editor
Kelsey Werkheiser, Print Managing Editor

One of many unique aspects that Bucknell’s community and class sizes provide are engagements and experiences courses can offer for students. The Listening Post is a student run program at the local Lewisburg Middle School. After a short hiatus from operating, this year, Gwen Scopelliti ’24 and Kendall Roland ’24 have reestablished the program. 

Bucknell’s Education Department offers separate tracks that students can follow during their time at Bucknell. With options to obtain a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) degree, the requirements and experiences within these programs offer different opportunities for students. 

The BS is catered around students looking to pursue early childhood education, pre-K-4. These students work towards their teacher certification spending time during their four years in elementary classrooms student-teaching. The BA offers a broader approach to studying the field of education and applying the major in many different ways for several careers. Students working toward the BA also spend time outside of the Bucknell classes in different education related settings. 

To complete and receive the BA degree, education majors must complete a culminating experience or honors thesis. For those who opt to participate in a culminating experience, they spend time working an education related internship. Many of the education internships take place during students senior year and get them involved with the Bucknell and Lewisburg communities.

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Roland, an Education Support Services (BA) major with a minor in Sociology, and Scopelliti, a Psychology and Education (BA) double major were partnered and have worked together on their culminating experience internship. 

Explaining the origin of her internship Roland shared, “I needed to find an internship for my education major this spring and I saw a flier for the Listening Post and met with Professor Cantagallo to discuss if I could possibly do this for my internship. Professor Cantagallo thought this would be a great opportunity for the Listening Post to get back up and running and she knew I would have plenty of opportunities to get all of my internship hours through the Listening Post.”

Professor Cantagallo is the Director of Professional Education and works closely with students during their culminating experiences. Scopelliti, having worked at The Listening Post when it ran the past, joined Roland in collaboration to bring back the program and utilize it as her internship as well. 

Delving into the mission and goals of the program Scopelliti shared, “The Listening Post is a program designed to have college students (“near peers”) go into the middle school during their lunch period and serve as a positive role model. Near peers actively listen to the students and support their emotional well-being while also modeling respectful appropriate behavior, language and problem solving skills. Near-peer mentors promote and facilitate positive social and emotional experiences for students while building caring and trusting relationships. This is a safe and encouraging environment for all middle school students.”

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, at Lewisburg Middle School, they host The Listening Post during the lunch blocks for all three grades, sixth, seventh and eighth. The two students explained that they are working primarily with groups of up to eight students. 

Having previously worked solely as a volunteer for program Scopelliti compared differences and changes they have implemented this spring. “I would describe the current Listening Post as more modern,” Scopelliti shared. “We have restructured the program and the handbook to better fit the current middle school. A big difference I now see is that the kids love to come in and we have no problem getting the middle schoolers to sign up. Two years ago, we had a lot less students signing up.”

Conversation during these lunch blocks can center around a variety of topics, though they typically cover the everyday happenings of students lives. As facilitators of the conversation, Scopelliti and Roland use tools such as conversation dice, meditation outlines, board games, coloring books and more. Planning for the program included decorating and arranging the inviting atmosphere they aimed for in the meeting room. 

Detailing the conversations they’ve encountered thus far, Scopelliti shared, “The kids are able to vent about things that are on their mind. They also ask us questions like: what are some study tips? What are some ways I could deal with this situation? I can see that they feel better able to talk after talking about things that are bothering them. Talking is so important as it allows them to destress.”

Navigating group conversations with children can be challenging at times. Both Roland and Scopelliti agreed that their course work before this year has better prepared them for these moments.

“The course Counseling Techniques has prepared me the most for my experience at the Listening Post,” Roland said. “I learned so much through this course that I have applied to the Listening Post.”

They both agreed and explained that Counseling Techniques helped educate them on how to facilitate conversations that encourage and allow people to speak about things that are on their mind. 

Graduating this spring, Roland and Scopelliti noted they will take their experience with the program as it can be applied to their future careers. Roland noted that after plans to travel abroad for some time she hopes to utilize her major and internship experience to work with kids in the counseling realm. 

Scopelliti shared her hopes for being able to support kids, “beyond the academic classroom and in a school setting.” Next fall, she will be pursuing a masters degree in School Psychology: Applied Educational and Health Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. 

The success The Listening Post has this semester has brought them to consider the future of the program. They plan to have an expansion to other local middle schools and potentially operate more frequently throughout the week this coming fall. Volunteering for the program is open to all Bucknell students and is encouraged for Education and Psychology majors. For those who qualify the program can be used as a work-study opportunity. Those who are interested can reach out to Roland, Scopelliti and or Professor Cantagallo.

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