Lakewood Kids Extend Soccer Season with Opportunities for Learning

image[2]The Lakewood Recreation Soccer Club combines soccer with educational enrichment programs through Georgian Court University.

For some students, learning does not come easy outside of the classroom. That’s why Lakewood teacher and Georgian Court graduate student, Oscar Orellana, found a way to make learning fun for local kids.

Oscar, a former wrestler who graduated from the Lakewood schools in 2005, was not always a good student, but he always understood sports and how they provided a foundation for learning, he explained.

He started coaching soccer for the Lakewood Recreation Soccer Club back in 2012 and realized that winter just how many of the students were wasting time in the bleachers as they waited for their chance to play.

The aspiring school counselor thought the students’ time could be better spent, so he approached the dean of the GCU School of Education, who directed him to GCU’s experiential learning office. From there he was able to formulate a program where college students could tutor the soccer players.

That’s where GCU 2013 graduate Sabrina Dixon and current student Lauren Rodia came in. They volunteered as tutors and collected data for Research Methods, taught by Dr. Linda James, a GCU professor of psychology.

“Oscar had the idea of piloting a reading/soccer program so that when children were not learning or practicing soccer, they would be engaged in an academic activity rather than just running around the gym,” said Lauren, who aims to become a teacher. “It was an amazing experience that allowed us to connect with younger students—and the community—on so many levels.”

The timing was perfect. Dr. James, along with Lauren and Sabrina, worked with Oscar to develop survey tools to collect useful information from parents, teachers, and GCU students. Oscar also visited the Research Methods class at least twice.

A win-win situation

image[3]The project, according to GCU officials, represents a true service learning partnership: university students were able to support a local need, and the community contributed to GCU students’ learning experiences.

“I think the biggest benefit of working with GCU is that they are helping us expose our kids to great role models and college students,” Oscar added.

There were about five to six kids in a group with one college student tutor, according to Oscar. The college students assisted the kids with homework assignments and general reading and literacy tasks.

“It was an amazing experience, and gave us an opportunity to connect with students in the community on so many levels. We learned just as much from them as they learned from us.” — Lauren Rodia

From its inception in 2012, 40 kids joined the soccer club for the spring season. Now, the program has risen to 220 players (22 teams) ranging in age from four to 13. The teams play for six weeks each season for a total of 24 weeks per year.

“It mostly spread by word of mouth,” Oscar said. “The parents are really on board and the kids love it.”

Although the program serves an educational purpose, Oscar explains that they do not want it to be too overbearing,

“We don’t want them to hate the task of learning,” he said. “We want to keep it fun.”

The biggest part of the program, Oscar said, is being able to build a sense of community. As a lifelong Lakewood resident, his motto for the program is, “in Lakewood, for Lakewood.”

“I want to show that there are people in this community that care and want better for their kids,” he said.

Oscar said he hopes the program can give the kids of Lakewood something to hold on to and provide them the opportunity to realize the importance education will play in the future.

He added that he would like the kids to understand that where they are from or their current situation will not determine how their life is going to end up.

Oscar explained, “If change is going to happen, it’s going to be them.”

The Lakewood Recreation Soccer Club runs out of John F. Patrick Sports Complex, Monday through Wednesday, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit
Lakewoodsc.com, or contact Oscar Orellana at 732-216-7188.

 

Written by Nicole Bitette. Linda Gonzalez, former GCU coordinator of experiential learning, also contributed to this story.

 

image[2]The Lakewood Recreation Soccer Club combines soccer with educational enrichment programs through Georgian Court University.

For some students, learning does not come easy outside of the classroom. That’s why Lakewood teacher and Georgian Court graduate student, Oscar Orellana, found a way to make learning fun for local kids.

Oscar, a former wrestler who graduated from the Lakewood schools in 2005, was not always a good student, but he always understood sports and how they provided a foundation for learning, he explained.

He started coaching soccer for the Lakewood Recreation Soccer Club back in 2012 and realized that winter just how many of the students were wasting time in the bleachers as they waited for their chance to play.

The aspiring school counselor thought the students’ time could be better spent, so he approached the dean of the GCU School of Education, who directed him to GCU’s experiential learning office. From there he was able to formulate a program where college students could tutor the soccer players.

That’s where GCU 2013 graduate Sabrina Dixon and current student Lauren Rodia came in. They volunteered as tutors and collected data for Research Methods, taught by Dr. Linda James, a GCU professor of psychology.

“Oscar had the idea of piloting a reading/soccer program so that when children were not learning or practicing soccer, they would be engaged in an academic activity rather than just running around the gym,” said Lauren, who aims to become a teacher. “It was an amazing experience that allowed us to connect with younger students—and the community—on so many levels.”

The timing was perfect. Dr. James, along with Lauren and Sabrina, worked with Oscar to develop survey tools to collect useful information from parents, teachers, and GCU students. Oscar also visited the Research Methods class at least twice.

A win-win situation

image[3]The project, according to GCU officials, represents a true service learning partnership: university students were able to support a local need, and the community contributed to GCU students’ learning experiences.

“I think the biggest benefit of working with GCU is that they are helping us expose our kids to great role models and college students,” Oscar added.

There were about five to six kids in a group with one college student tutor, according to Oscar. The college students assisted the kids with homework assignments and general reading and literacy tasks.

“It was an amazing experience, and gave us an opportunity to connect with students in the community on so many levels. We learned just as much from them as they learned from us.” — Lauren Rodia

From its inception in 2012, 40 kids joined the soccer club for the spring season. Now, the program has risen to 220 players (22 teams) ranging in age from four to 13. The teams play for six weeks each season for a total of 24 weeks per year.

“It mostly spread by word of mouth,” Oscar said. “The parents are really on board and the kids love it.”

Although the program serves an educational purpose, Oscar explains that they do not want it to be too overbearing,

“We don’t want them to hate the task of learning,” he said. “We want to keep it fun.”

The biggest part of the program, Oscar said, is being able to build a sense of community. As a lifelong Lakewood resident, his motto for the program is, “in Lakewood, for Lakewood.”

“I want to show that there are people in this community that care and want better for their kids,” he said.

Oscar said he hopes the program can give the kids of Lakewood something to hold on to and provide them the opportunity to realize the importance education will play in the future.

He added that he would like the kids to understand that where they are from or their current situation will not determine how their life is going to end up.

Oscar explained, “If change is going to happen, it’s going to be them.”

The Lakewood Recreation Soccer Club runs out of John F. Patrick Sports Complex, Monday through Wednesday, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit
Lakewoodsc.com, or contact Oscar Orellana at 732-216-7188.

 

Written by Nicole Bitette. Linda Gonzalez, former GCU coordinator of experiential learning, also contributed to this story.

 

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