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Point Park student Tracie Cardone judges an elementary student's essay. | Photo by Amanda Dabbs

Point Park University's education department has partnered for several years with WQED, Pittsburgh's PBS affiliate and the nation's first community-supported television station, connecting students to various hands-on projects and teaching opportunities.

Most recently, undergraduate and graduate education students at Point Park helped judge WQED's 2017 PBS KIDS Writers Contest for children in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Before the judging at Point Park began, Gina Masciola, WQED's manager of education projects, reviewed judging criteria with Point Park students and showed them samples of previous winners.

According to Masciola, more than 800 entries from elementary students throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio have been submitted so far for this year's contest.

"Helping to judge this contest offered various benefits for our students. In addition to gaining field experience hours, it allowed them to get to know WQED and the great opportunities and support it provides for teachers and students. Also, this contest showed them how they can involve their students in a national event when they become classroom teachers," explained Virginia Chambers, Ed.D., Point Park assistant professor of education.

"Additionally, this judging experience enabled our students to review and evaluate elementary writing samples using a clearly defined rubric," Chambers added.

"I chose to be a judge because I thought it would be a fun way to gain field experience. My career goal is to be a fantastic math teacher. Point Park's professors in both the math and education departments are excellent role models," said Gavin O'Marehen, a secondary education math and special education dual major from Burrell High School in Lower Burrell, Pa.

M.Ed. in secondary education English graduate student Corinne Volosky from West Mifflin Area High School in West Mifflin, Pa., decided to judge for the chance to evaluate student work prior to becoming a teacher.

"As a future teacher, this was a great way to test out my grading skills for creative writing assignments. Also, I'm a big supporter of WQED and PBS so I wanted to show my support and help with such a wonderful contest," Volosky said.

For M.Ed. in secondary education citizenship student Tracie Cardone, this contest has a really personal connection.

"When I was a child, I was a participant in this same contest. Except back then, it was called the Reading Rainbow contest. We were all laughing and sharing stories because the kids came up with some crazy, but really good and creative stuff," said Cardone, who graduated from Kiski Area High School in Vandergrift, Pa.

Cardone added: "The education department at Point Park always lets us know about cool volunteer opportunities like this one as well as jobs, career fairs and campus events. The professors really try to give us as many opportunities to succeed to make ourselves the best teachers and people we can be."

Education Students Judge PBS KIDS Writing Contest


More About: education, West Mifflin Area High School, Burrell High School, Kiski Area High School, graduate education