With SIU students, Thomas Elementary schoolchildren prepare to be Future Salukis
CARBONDALE, Ill. — Second- and third-grade students at Thomas Elementary School in Carbondale are learning about different career fields from Southern Illinois University Carbondale students.
Since September 2022, about 60 Thomas students have participated in a Future Salukis program at the school. Working with eight SIU students, the children have been introduced to different majors and fields that they may not be aware of. The program is part of an initiative the university and the Carbondale Elementary School District No. 95 entered into in May 2021 to provide mentoring and educational opportunities, summer camps and collaboration between SIU and the 1,500-student district.
Various SIU registered student organizations gave schoolchildren an introduction to a variety of programs last fall, and then Thomas students were able to decide which group they wanted to join, said Ashley Booth, a graduate assistant in SIU’s Student Multicultural Resource Center. Groups included the robotics club, chemistry club, med prep club and architecture club. The groups worked on projects once a month while students learned about different careers paths of different academic majors. Students will showcase their work during a school program on Thursday, April 13.
Robby Clark-Stokes, Thomas Elementary School principal, said there were several benefits to the program for the 7- to 9-year-olds.
“For many of our students, their lives are home and school. Having SIU come to our school and provide these experiences has been a great way for them to learn things in ways that they never could have imagined,” he said. “In addition to learning about the programs at SIU, they are able to connect with students. Meeting new people that aspire to contribute to the world in unique ways is invaluable. Who knows — maybe this will spark something inside of them, and they'll be Salukis in 10 years or so.”
Booth said it was very important to “create a program for students to have a vision of the different academic departments and what cool ways they can incorporate them into future careers, and creating a visual for the students so that they can have dreams and aspirations for their future.”
Booth added that she has enjoyed observing the children’s interactions with the SIU students.
“The SIU students work so well with the Thomas students and really dive in to encourage the students as well as making the fields that they study fun for the kids,” she said.