Cooking Classic participants helped stock Lion's Pantry locations
Penn State’s inaugural Cooking Classic served up fun for participants and much needed funds for campus food pantries.
A total of 522 people took part in the series, which featured four weekly webinars hosted by various Penn State colleges and campuses. Penn State alumni and friends learned about recipes for pierogies and wing sauces, healthy foods, specialty chocolate, and wine and food pairings.
In addition to connecting the Penn State community, the program helped raise awareness of food insecurity experienced by Penn State students. Attendees were able to assist Lion's Pantry locations at campuses across the commonwealth. A total of 117 donors gave more than $4,300 to support the pantries.
The Cooking Classic was organized by Alumni Relations staff in the Colleges of Agricultural Sciences, Education, Information Sciences and Technology, and the Schreyer Honors College; campuses at Abington, Altoona, Erie, Harrisburg and Schuylkill; and Penn State World Campus.
Alumna addresses students’ needs in and out of classroom
When Stephanie Metzger, a 2016 graduate in Spanish and world languages education, spent two years developing a curriculum for her school district’s first middle school-level bilingual Spanish program, she didn’t expect the program to debut during a pandemic.
Despite having to make several adjustments along the way, Metzger is taking everything in stride and focuses on providing as much support as possible to her students and their families.
Metzger, a Spanish language arts teacher for Alexandria (Virginia) City Public Schools, has also tried to keep her students engaged as best she can.
Beyond the classroom, she is focused on helping families in need.
When her classes initially went remote, Metzger quickly realized that most of her students didn’t have notebooks. Since she wasn’t physically with them, she couldn’t just hand them school supplies like she normally would at school; so, she asked her church for help. Those efforts allowed every single student in her class to have the school supplies — and in some instances, food and other supplies — they would have not had otherwise.
Practicum addresses mental health needs in schools
Mental health is a critical component of K-12 students’ academic performance and overall well-being, and the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the need for services that address those needs. A partnership that began in 2016 between the Penn State College of Education and the State College Area School District (SCASD) has expanded and is creating opportunities for graduate students to gain counseling experience in educational settings while removing some of the stigma and barriers to access surrounding mental health treatment.
The program is administered through the Dr. Edwin L. Herr Clinic, which is staffed by master’s and doctoral students in the Counselor Education program.
“The overall mission of this partnership is to remove barriers and provide equitable access to students, families, faculty and staff seeking mental health supports,” said Katie Kostohryz, associate teaching professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education (EPCSE).
When COVID-19 caused SCASD to close its schools and switch to remote learning in March 2020, the Herr Clinic quickly transitioned to a telehealth model in which health-related services and information are distributed via electronic information and telecommunication technologies.
Seria Chatters, director of equity and inclusivity for SCASD and adjunct associate professor in EPCSE, said mental health clinics offering telehealth services could be considered a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For teens, getting therapy through their computer and/or cellphone is awesome,” Chatters said. “The in-person component I don’t think is ever going to go away, but I think telehealth is something that is here to stay.”
Faculty research leads to in-home HIV test kits in PA
Two College of Education faculty members, with help from the HIV Prevention & Care Project at the University of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, have started a website that offers HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) home self-test kits to anyone in Pennsylvania. The intention of this initiative is to offer testing to people who are unaware of their status and do not have access to clinical testing.
“This is really a way to serve a particular need and not to replace in any way the better option of getting a test in a clinic,” said Liza Conyers, professor of education (rehabilitation and human services). This initiative comes directly out of her research.
“It’s important to get diagnosed as early as possible, engage in treatment, seek out social support and continue to pursue life’s dreams and goals,” she said.