For students in the School of Education, co-op provides them the opportunity to be with a class or a school from the beginning of the school year to just around spring break time. That’s a long time, for a school year: it might be just half of their year at Drexel, during fall and winter terms, but it’s two-thirds of a school year for the young students they’re working with.
According to Angelique Giannascoli, a recent March graduate of the School of Education, the co-op cycle allows to you to see how younger children grow and develop during that time.
“My co-op allowed me to start the school year with an experienced teacher and see how the school year progressed from day one,” said Giannascoli, an elementary education major.
For her co-op, Giannascoli worked as an instructional assistant at the Saint Andrew Catholic Education Center in Newtown, Pa. She spent her time in an inclusion kindergarten classroom, which is an emerging teaching model featuring a class with students that have special needs and are also typical students. It was the best of both worlds for Giannascoli, who specializes in pre-kindergarten through fourth grade as well as special education.
As part of her job, Giannascoli assisted the teacher with hands-on activities, prepared materials and adapted worksheets to align with the curriculum. She also worked one-on-one with students experiencing difficulty with behavioral skills and classwork. And on top of all that, she attended 504 meetings during her six-month co-op, which is surely deserving of at least one gold star.
One of the most memorable and rewarding experiences from her co-op relates to her expertise in these two fields. A student in her classroom had selective-mutism, which meant that he refused to speak to adults and peers. Giannascoli mentored the student by working one-on-one with him in class and setting up a friendly after-school bowling session to see if he would talk to her outside of school with his family around. She finally got him to talk after she used humor to get him to answer to questions about drawing out a math problem.
“Having an open-friendly personality with young students is key! It doesn’t hurt if you add some humor as well,” she said.
Her hard work paid off: Giannascoli became the first adult that the student spoke to at school.
“It was very exciting and it confirmed my love for education,” said Giannascoli. “It immediately made me feel like I was in the right field.”
As a result of all of her hard work and achievements at the St. Andrew Catholic Education Center, Giannascoli was recently named a co-op award winner at this year’s Cooperative Education Award Ceremony.
“She was a good role model, always offering praise and encouragement to help foster self-esteem and self worth. The lives she touched are enriched beyond measure and forever changed,” wrote her supervisor, Cynthia Sullivan, in the nomination process.
Having graduated in March, Giannascoli is currently subbing in local districts and taking online graduate classes to complete her English Language-Learner (ELL) certification. She will no doubt be taking what she learned and experienced while on co-op and using it in her future professional endeavors.
“After this co-op, it gave me insight in the field that I will be working in after college. I feel more confident and prepared for future teaching experiences,” she said.
About the Drexel Co-op program: More than 98 percent of eligible undergraduate students at Drexel participate in the co-op program, balancing full-time classes and up to three different internships during their time at Drexel. Students can choose from more than 1,700 employers in 33 states and 48 international locations — plus endless possibilities through self-arranged placements.