Boston College Annual Report 2003

Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch School of Education

.It wasn't unusual for the first grader to wander down the hallway while the teacher was presenting a lesson or to scribble over papers he was supposed to complete. When others were working quietly, he might pick up a book and hit a classmate, knock down a classroom display, or pick a fight.

It was no surprise that this pint-sized behavior problem had a big story. The boy had recently moved from China to America to live with his parents, leaving behind the grandparents who had raised him. His English was spotty, and while the Baldwin School in Brighton is a Chinese bilingual school, the boy spoke Mandarin in a room where most of the Chinese speakers, including his teacher, spoke Cantonese.

Fortunately, Baldwin is part of Boston College’s Connect Five project, an effort to improve education by developing the ways schools link with community resources. Maureen Maloney, Baldwin’s Connect Five coordinator, helped recruit two Chinese-speaking interns from the Lynch School of Education, including Lermin Kwan ’04, who speaks Mandarin.

Kwan built a rapport with the troubled boy, giving him a chance to converse without laboring over his English. Kwan led a social-skills group for the child and two others, a girl who speaks Mandarin and English and a girl who speaks Cantonese and Spanish. Multilingual Kwan acted as translator, helping the children learn to communicate without aggression.

Connect Five demonstrates the desire to improve the human condition through education that helps define Boston College’s School of Education, which was named in honor of Carolyn A. Lynch and Peter S. Lynch ’65, H’95, who donated more than $10 million to improve the education of educators. The school aims to help future teachers reach students, no matter what obstacles might impede their learning.

.“Education can truly change lives. And that’s the mission BC’s School of Education imbues in its teachers. It trains them to not only educate the mind, but also to empower the individual, within the context of faith, to move beyond their limitations. We have seen firsthand the life-transforming benefits that investing in BC’s School of Education has brought about.”

The Lynch School of Education—which has nearly 20,000 graduates and celebrated its 50th anniversary last fall—is a community of scholars committed to a model of education that serves the goals of social justice. The school has 800 undergraduate students and 1,000 graduate students and is ranked 23rd in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

Connect Five, says professor Mary Walsh, director of Boston College’s Center for Child, Family, and Community Partner-ships, “is about non-academic barriers to learning that can get in the way. We’re trying to connect schools with community resources to make sure kids are ready to learn.”

The program, which brings together children, families, schools, community agencies, and the University, grew out of a Boston College initiative at the Gardner School in Allston. The Gardner program was so successful (it now includes an on-site health clinic and extensive after-school program) that Boston College and its partners expanded the initiative to 11 schools, including Baldwin.

At that small Brighton elementary school, Connect Five has made a tangible difference, introducing a world of hope to a first grader isolated by culture and language. Thanks to Kwan’s social-skills group and extensive efforts by parents and teachers, the child is speaking more English, doing better in schoolwork, and behaving less aggressively.

Now when Kwan arrives at the Baldwin School, the little boy is overjoyed. “He runs up to me and grabs my hand,” says the Boston College student, who is working toward a master’s degree in counseling at the Lynch School. “It’s a great feeling.”

Photo at top of page: Lermin Kwan at the Baldwin School in Brighton.

Inset photo: Carolyn A. Lynch and Peter S. Lynch.

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