Classroom Community

College of Education alumna and instructor Linsey Covert is taking her research to market to provide schools with a program addressing bullying and other school conflicts through teambuilding and community.

Addressing conflict among schoolchildren—for example, bullying and violence—is becoming an increasingly important issue. As she began her work as a school counselor, Penn State alumna and current instructor in the College of Education Linsey Covert saw these issues first hand.

Covert, an ’06 graduate of Penn State’s Master of Education in Counselor Education program, realized that there was an underlying problem. From her graduate-level research, she knows how important it is for students in a school to come together as a community and to feel like a team.  

“A sense of belonging is so powerful, especially on a team.”—Linsey Covert 

So she set out to develop and implement some ideas she had that would do just that—and, hopefully, work to combat bullying and other types of conflict in schools.  

“We saw a lot of impact right away, especially with students who struggled—those who didn’t seem to have a place,” she explains. “A sense of belonging is so powerful, especially on a team.” 

Research Connection

As her ideas really began to solidify, Covert reconnected with faculty members in the College of Education. 

“A program that produces good citizens who seek the best for all and not just themselves is what we wanted to do, and Project TEAM truly approaches that goal.”—Professor Richard Hazler

Penn State counselor education faculty Richard Hazler and JoLynn Carney saw a lot of merit in the project and started working closely with Covert to continue the program’s development.

“A program that produces good citizens who seek the best for all and not just themselves is what we wanted to do, and Project TEAM truly approaches that goal,” says Hazler.

Project TEAM is built on six foundations: helping others, positive change, anti-bullying, problem solving, resilience, and leadership. 

“Those things are all interconnected,” says Covert, “and if students start learning these things at an early age, they can begin to understand how to all work together in a positive way.”

By fostering social skills, team building, and a sense of belonging among students, research and early implementation show that Project TEAM creates positive change in schools. 

The program’s successes spurred Covert to think a little bigger: “I began to see an opportunity to commercialize to provide more schools access to programming,” she says. 

So, through connections at Penn State, Covert got involved with the TechCelerator

TechCelerator

The TechCelerator provides, among other services, a ten-week entrepreneurial boot camp program to entrepreneurs with technology-related business ideas, explains Don McCandless, director of business development at Ben Franklin Transformation Services. 

“In the first two years of the TechCelerator, we vastly increased the start-up rate the University was able to achieve based on its research.”—Don McCandless

After an initial triage appointment, Covert applied to and was accepted into the boot camp. 

The boot camp covers elements of the business model and leads participants through how to take their idea and think about it in terms of the market, how to make a profit, and more.

“[The boot camp] made me see everything much more clearly,” Covert says. “The market is really wide open in terms of this area, and a lot of investors are out there looking to invest in something related to social impact.”

Many of the TechCelerator’s goals align closely with the goals of the Invent Penn State initiative, and Covert is not the only Penn Stater developing business ideas thanks to her work there.

“Approximately 60-70 percent of TechCelerator participation has been based on Penn State technology,” reports McCandless. “In the first two years of the TechCelerator, we vastly increased the start-up rate the University was able to achieve based on its research.” 

He continues, “Increasing the number of startups and amount of funding available develops a different atmosphere in the region. Now that the University is pushing commercialization and economic development, we’re seeing a cultural change from the Penn State perspective, which is starting to trickle down to faculty, staff, and students.”

Penn State professors Hazler and Carney have provided Covert the support she needed to validate the efficacy of her program, and her involvement with the TechCelerator has provided her with the business perspective she needs to take her research to the marketplace.

As the program continues to grow, Covert hopes Project TEAM will extend to more and more schools, creating a positive impact for students across the country.