Carpe Diem Academy strengthens curriculum

With the Carpe Diem Academy, an extended learning day initiative for children in grades K-2 in four local schools, not only is Mercyhurst helping the students meet academic standards, but also providing education majors and graduate students with hands-on experience.

The academy works with approximately 280 students from McKinley, Diehl, Lincoln and Edison schools throughout the week, instructing a daily block of literacy and math instruction that follows the district’s curriculum.

Leanne Roberts, Ph.D., associate dean of the Hafenmeier School of Education and Behavioral Sciences said, “This is an excellent teaching opportunity for our pre-service teachers, who are learning about teaching by teaching.”

The staff includes 12 graduate students, who are Pennsylvania certified teachers, and about 20 undergraduate education majors from Mercyhurst, in addition to visiting artists, dance instructors and physical fitness coaches, who implement physical activity and creative arts on top of the math and literacy instruction the Academy offers.

Program Director of the Academy Amy Bauschard oversees the staff and daily functioning, making sure everything is going well.

“If you look at the dynamic of the program, it is much like a school,” said Bauschard. “The teachers have fifteen students each, work with them every day and they get to know them. There’s a very strong relationship between them.”

“From the University’s perspective, the Academy is building a community between the staff, as well as the foundation for their careers in education,” Bauschard added.

The Carpe Diem Academy is unique in that there are no other initiatives like it run by a university’s department of education, enhancing the lives of pre-service teachers in terms of their work experience and the lives of K-2 students in terms of their learning.

The pupils are also served healthy snacks and dinner with fresh produce during the three hour program.

According to Roberts, the staff takes mealtime as an opportunity to help enhance the children’s socialization skills and teach manners as well.

The Academy is funded by a $1.5 million 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant and was recently awarded another grant for $19,000 by the Erie Community Foundation.