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HONORS EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING PROJECT PROPOSAL FORM



Complete this proposal prior to your projects start date and upload it in the UHP Database
(https://webapps.uc.edu/uchonorsstudent). Create a project (Add a new record) in the Tracking Project tab and then
upload your proposal document as an attachment. The deadline for submitting proposals is on the 5
th
of each month.

While the quality of the proposal is most important, strong proposals are typically 3-4 pages in length (single-spaced).
Please maintain the proposal format.

Basic Information
Full Name: Mary Conroy
UC Email: conroymy@mail.uc.edu
College: Engineering and Applied Science
Major: Chemical Engineering
Title of Project: Saint Columban Vacation Bible School
Thematic Area: Leadership
Expected Project Start Date: July 7, 2014
Expected Project End Date: July 22, 2014

Project Information

1. Provide a detailed abstract of your proposed honors experiential learning project.
For the past six years, I have been a volunteer at Saint Columban Parishs annual Vacation Bible
School (VBS) for kids in grades ranging from kindergarten to fourth grade. However, in this time, I have
never taken the time to reflect on my experiences, what I accomplished as a part of the community, and
what all involved members can take away from the experience. This year, from July 14
th
through the
18
th
, it is my wish to return to Saint Columban and lead a class of students of my own. The theme for
this year surrounds the story of Moses and the Israelites. As a teacher, I would be solely responsible for
15-20 first through fourth graders, as well as 2-3 fifth and sixth grade helpers. It would be my job to
have organized classroom activities for the beginning and end of each day, as well as for any downtime
experienced throughout the course of the day. I would also be in charge of safely leading the group from
activity to activity, as well as supervising their recess break, first aid kit in hand. At the completion of
each day, I would have to make sure each child and helper found their ways back to their parents, then
collect their crafts and other items from the activity stations from the day, and have them ready to be
picked up the next day.
For the kids, VBS is five hours long for five days. As a teacher, I would also be present for at
least an hour before to work on setting up and two hours after to clean and organize. In my experience,
each day requires about five hours of active planning, whether that be organizing craft supplies, finding
or writing stories to entertain or teach the kids, or whatever else comes to mind. I would also spend
about four hours decorating the classroom well be in for the week, as it is currently in a state unsafe for
small kids, with desks stacked on top of each other and chairs stacked to the ceiling. That brings the total
hours 69, leaving me with an adequate amount of time for reading and reflecting on my experiences,
through looking at pictures taken throughout the week and equating experiences and lessons learned and
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be reading the stories of those who have had experiences similar to my own, many of which can be
found online. I would also create a scrapbook from my gathered pictures and artifacts. This could take
anywhere from 8 to 12 hours.
It goes without saying that the goal of VBS is to create a fun, safe, and educational environment
in which the kids can explore the stories and traditions behind their faith. However, personally, my goal
would be to explore my capabilities and possible growth as a leader and educator. I hope to further my
critical thinking skills, as with experiences such as this there are always going to be curveballs thrown
along the way the adapt to, and explore my patience and PR skills, as this experience is definitely going
to have frustrating points that demand a great deal of patience, and I will be asked to interact with
parents, kids, and other volunteers in a way that I am not used to. I will be giving oral progress reports to
many of the parents, which have to be delivered in a delicate way to get the message, positive or
negative, across without offense or bending the truth. I will also have to explore having a different
relationship with the kids. Normally, as a young adult, it would be appropriate for me to treat kids as my
friend and equal. However, this experience will give me an opportunity to learn the balance between
friend and superior; a relationship based on respect and kindness from both parties. This is such a
delicate balance and one that would be of the utmost importance to me personally, as it will be very
important as I approach the 2014 fall semester, where I will be acting as a peer leader in the center for
first year experience, which will require very similar relationships of mutual respect to be formed. I will
also have to maintain a healthy working relationship with the other volunteers. There are going to
definitely be times when they need something from me or I need something from them, and it is going to
take a good understanding of the level of urgency of certain tasks or items, in order to prioritize to get
what is most important most immediately. This is a skill that is always going to be very important in the
workplace, and so I am very much looking forward to being able to set this as a goal for myself of which
to develop a better understanding.



Clearly and thoroughly address how each of the following elements will be exhibited in your work:
2. Connection to Learning Outcomes within the Honors Thematic Area

The thematic area with which I would identify this project would be the area of leadership. The
first learning objective that I would want to gain a better understanding of is identifies the various
characteristics of a leader in a given situation or role. As a citizen of a community, we are all constantly
responsible for each other. As a teacher, this role would be seen in an exaggerated sense, where for
extended periods of time, I would be solely responsible for a good number of children. I would have to
work to find a balance between being their friend and being their leader, as well as a balance between
what is fun and what is educational and safe. In essence, I would have to work to identify with how the
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kids signed up for this program to for a fun, educational experience, and find a way to create activities
and an atmosphere that reflects this in a safe and positive environment.
The second objective I would be looking to achieve is develops a vision of the future and
acknowledges the impact of decisions, as applicable to the individual and affiliated organizations. One
of the biggest aspects of being a successful leader is setting a positive example for others to follow.
Whether we realize it or not, and more often than not we are unaware of it, when youre around kids,
they are constantly watching. Every action made is seen, processed, and in all honesty, a part of whom
they will grow up to become. Therefore, every decision I make as a part of this experience, in how I
carry myself and react to certain situations, will set the stage for how these kids think it is appropriate to
act and carry themselves. Every moment of working with kids has a large impact, and this will be no
exception. It would be my goal to challenge myself to not only make decisions that most strongly
promote safety, education, and positivity, but to also make them with an optimistic attitude. Every
decision I make throughout this course of time will not only affect how the kids spend their time while
under my supervision, but it will also impact how they see appropriate to make their own decisions later
on. Therefore, I am developing a vision of the future where these kids are more able to make positive,
safe decisions for themselves, hopefully having been impacted by my decisions for the better.


3. Connection to Goals and Academic Theories (include reference list, as appropriate)
A. This experience will aid me both personally and professionally. A part of any working environment,
especially in engineering, includes working closely with other people, oftentimes people who have
different backgrounds, understandings, or ideas than you. Working with kids and other teachers will
be excellent practice for this. Kids question everything, go exactly where you tell them not to, and
always have something different up their sleeves. These are the kinds of situations I would do well to
get a solid handle on and be able to approach with a smile and a lot of patience. Additionally, I do
want to be a parent someday, and personally, it would give me a great deal of confidence and
happiness to spend such a large amount of time with so many kids.
B. http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=411 This link has
a great deal of resources available that would be beneficial for the outcome of this experience. The
ones I took the most immediate interest in were of course main article on building blocks of
developmentally appropriate practices, as well as the links in the left column on art and creativity in
early childhood education, activities for outcome-based learning, and teaching peace. These
resources could help me develop activities appropriate for the experience and better understand my
role as a teacher.
http://www.fastcompany.com/1838481/6-leadership-styles-and-when-you-should-use-them This
link provides descriptions of six leadership styles and what situations call for each style. I took
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interest in this article because I am fully aware that this experience will bring all kinds of situations,
from kids that are too shy to kids that are too adventurous and everything in-between. It is going to
be very valuable for me to be able to correctly identify each type of situation and know how to be
able to best respond as an effective and respectable leader.


4. Initiative, Independence, and/or Creativity
Just like how every teacher is different, so I would get the chance to bring my own unique contribution.
Everyone has their own ways of interacting with kids and I would be no different. In creating my own
classroom activities and decorating and organizing the classroom to my own liking, the experience in
my classroom wouldnt be the same as any of the other classrooms. As far as taking initiative, this is a
camp that has been a part of my life for a long time. When I was young, I attended the camp every
summer and had my fair share of effective and ineffective leaders. Then, as I got older, I began
volunteering every year and doing my part as a classroom aid to help make the experience as positive as
possible. Since reaching an appropriate age, I decided that it was a good time to return as a teacher,
taking with me the knowledge I gained through years of participating and seeing a wide variety of
leadership styles, some good and some bad. This experience holds a lot of sentimental value in my heart,
which also acts as a drive for me to work my hardest to make it a positive experience and learn as much
as possible.


5. Reflection

Ive always enjoyed the art of traditional journaling, and find that it is something that works for me to be
able to reflect at a deeper level. So, at the end of each day, I would take an hour or so to journal on my
experiences of the day, the frustrations and challenges faced, the joy that was shared, and any feelings,
positive or negative, that I hold for the upcoming day. I would also look back on the article on the six
leadership styles and when to use them. I would reflect on which of the styles I used, if those used were
the best I could have made, and how I can grow from this in the future. This would all be included in my
journal entries. This would also give me a chance to directly and immediately look at the things I have
learned. I also plan on taking a lot of pictures throughout the experience, which I would be able to print
and include in my entries.


6. Dissemination

I come from a very large family with around sixty first cousins, many of them around the age of VBS-
goers. Therefore, for dissemination, I would actively speak to the families applicable and share my
experiences and encourage them to seek out VBS opportunities in their own parishes. I also plan on
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making a scrapbook of the pictures and other artifacts I have collected by the end of the experience,
however, because there would be minors in the photographs, while I would be able to show the
scrapbook to my family members, it would not legally be allowed to be published online. However,
even with this minor setback, I would still be reaching the desired audience of young kids who could
have the same fun and educational learning experience that I am working to create at Saint Columban.


7. Project Advisor (list the persons name, title, and contact information)

Terri Kerley
Saint Columban Parish
Coordinator of Religious Education
513-683-0105 ext. 2118