Cathy Liebowitz '15
Student Director of CCESP Nicaragua
Major: Environmental Studies
Hometown: Plainfield, NHRead the full interview
Integral to the SEAD Scholars' experience is spending a portion of four consecutive summers at Dartmouth. During their time at Dartmouth, they participate in educational and personal enrichment activities. Each year has a specific focus:
SEAD I - Identity
SEAD II - Environment and Sustainability
SEAD III - College Application and Self-Advocacy
SEAD IV - College Transition
SEAD I brings together students for the first time. The central goal of SEAD I is to build a sense of trust and cohesion as a group; participants are encouraged to grow as individuals, students, and members of their SEAD group in a college environment. Students work in two academic areas: Language Arts and Robotics. As with all SEAD summer programs students have an hour study hall most evenings with support from the student teachers and volunteer tutors.
The goal of the Language Arts program is to lay the foundations for the group to work together for four summers. Diverse students from the five areas need to become a group, able to trust each other enough to communicate about readings and their writing as well as about themselves. The overarching theme of the Language Arts program is "Identity": an exploration of themselves as individuals and more importantly as members of various groups including family, home communities, SEAD, and future communities. They work together to break down stereotypes and barriers between the groups and between members of their own groups. Students read short narratives and poems as the basis of discussions and extensive writing, culminating in graduation presentations of poetry and a final collection of their writing in a SEAD Literary Journal.
SEAD partners with the Thayer School of Engineering to create a Robotics curriculum for SEAD I. Students work in teams of three with computer-programmable LEGO robots to achieve various "missions" presented to them by the lead teachers. Exhaustive trial and error is combined with carefully sequenced workshops and scaffolding instruction so that students learn the fundamental components of mechanical design and computer programming. Final presentation of these missions is during the graduation ceremony, with audience groups watching each SEAD group demonstrate their robots' responses to the challenges presented.
SEAD I also incorporates career awareness into its program. Students discuss a variety of post-secondary opportunities, meeting with Dartmouth faculty and visiting local businesses such as Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Geographic Data Technology and the Hanover Inn on job-shadowing visits.
Students learn additional skills as they travel into New Hampshire's White Mountains for a weekend. Students choose trips organized in consultation with the Dartmouth Outing Club and go canoeing, rock climbing, hiking or work on an organic farm.
The central goal of SEAD II is encouraging students to think about their influence on the environment, as well as the effect the environment has on them. Students find heroes who will inspire them to believe that they can create change for themselves – change that will positively affect their communities. Students also fundraise and participate in the Prouty Walk for Cancer Research.
SEAD II continues to develop students' academic skills in the complementary areas of research, writing, and presentation skills. Students devise their own research project and present the results at graduation. The highlight of the Environmental Science class is an overnight visit to the Isles of Shoals Marine Laboratory where students engage in tide pool collections, microscopic observation and an optional shark dissection.
Students develop their reading, writing and analytic skills while exploring themes of environment. Students are encouraged to think about the effect of environment on the various characters about whom they read. Students complete daily journals and homework assignments as well as a final research paper.
Students work in small groups to develop test taking strategies that will help them with the SAT, ACT and other tests in high school and college. At the end of the class students took a practice SAT and received individualized feedback from the course instructors on areas of strength and places for improvement.
The central goal of SEAD III is to prepare students to be successful as they undertake the college selection and application process and to best advocate for themselves throughout the process.
Through small group and individualized work students learn about the college selection and application process. They construct a thoughtful and realistic list of schools to apply to, complete the Common Application, prepare for potential interviews and learn about the process of applying for financial aid. A highlight of the College Application class is a two trip to Boston where students are able to visit four different colleges and universities. This trip to Boston gives students the opportunity to participate in a formal college visit and broaden their conceptions of what different types of colleges and universities are like.
Students work on their college application essay by focusing on identifying significant episodes in their lives and defining the elements of a well-written personal essay. Upon completion of SEAD III students have written and edited both a short and long essay to be included in their college application.
Students focus on public speaking skills, self-presentation and self-advocacy. By observing guest speakers who embody leadership in a variety of ways students identify their own leadership styles and construct a "call to action" speech which they share at the SEAD III graduation ceremony.
SEAD IV is designed to prepare students to be successful as they transition to college. The summer of 2013 will see SEAD IV implemented for the first time.
SEAD IV will most likely be comprised of core classes which focus on the successful transition to college (study skills, grammar and essay writing, negotiating relationships, where to go for support) and a series of extended workshops on a variety of relevant and interesting topics.
All SEAD students are given individual Mentors and Academic Coaches, Dartmouth sophomores, who work with them while they are on campus, individually tutoring them in their classes, joining them on their outing trips and helping the students explore what it means to go to college. The mentors also keep contact with the SEAD students as they progress through their school year and through the four years of the SEAD program.
Each summer SEAD students are paired with new Mentors and Academic Coaches, giving them the opportunity to meet and learn from new Dartmouth students.
Lead Teachers work in pairs to plan and implement each course of the SEAD academic curriculum. Using the Residential Staff as classroom aides, the Lead Teachers are able to take advantage of a 1:2 teacher-student ratio in their coursework with the SEAD students.
Residential staff form the nucleus of the academic support team, serving as small group "pod" leaders and offering advising on a one on one basis. Additionally, residential staff are responsible for the safety and emotional well being of the SEAD students while they are in the dorm.
Last Updated: 8/6/13