Cotting School has a unique relationship with students at Boston College who participate in the PULSE program. PULSE educates students about social injustice by putting them into direct contact with marginalized populations and social change organizations and by encouraging discussion on classic and contemporary works of philosophy and theology. Students in the program are placed at organizations all over the Greater Boston area. Cotting is a new partner with PULSE this year and this partnership looks a little different than it would have in normal years – especially for those students helping with the Circle of Friends and Project Bridges programs!
Cotting School’s “Circle of Friends” creates student groupings to offer a more flexible social experience than what can be offered during the school day. Circle of Friends is a great way for students in the Middle School, Upper School, and Capstone age groups to hang out and form bonds with their peers. While virtual due to Covid, Circle of Friends enables students to play social games and have time to catch up with new and old friends in break out rooms. Cotting students have loved getting to know Boston College students Brendon and Addison. Both PULSE students have been helping run daily lessons and being enthusiastic about students’ answers. Program directors expressed that Brandon and Addison are perfect peer role models to all Cotting students! Learn more about them below.
Addison Metzger has been working with Cotting’s Circle of Friends group over the past 7 months and has thoroughly enjoyed the experience. A freshman at Boston College, Addison studies Secondary Education and English. She is also quite involved in the BC community as a member of a sustainability group called EcoPledge. Because of her previous involvement with Best Buddies, Addison was so excited to see Cotting School as one of the PULSE community partnerships. In high school, she volunteered with the LABBB collaborative in Lexington, MA. She is very familiar with the Cotting community, as she frequently would visit the school gym for Cotting basketball games. Addison has been impressed with how passionate and prideful every member of the Cotting community was at those basketball games stating, “I was so fortunate to have had these encounters with Cotting in years prior to see the school pride that fills every community member.”
Addison has taken on more of a leadership role in this semester’s meetings, directing more dialogue and presenting activities for the group. Her favorite activity is the dance parties! She admits that at the beginning of her service experience, she was worried about how a virtual afterschool program would work. Addison fully credits the creativity of the teachers in overcoming the challenges of working in a virtual setting and still making the programs so engaging for the students, saying “now as a member of the Cotting community, I can see how much students and teachers truly love their school.” Logging onto her weekly meetings, Addison describes how she is greeted with the smiling faces and enthusiastic voices of overjoyed students. What a great feeling!
Her experience so far at Cotting has affirmed Addison’s desire to become a special education teacher. She has observed teachers persevere through challenges, with the central goal of creating the most meaningful learning environment possible for their students. She admits that she is lucky – her service never feels like work, stating “more than anything, I am thankful for the connections I have been fortunate enough to make with the Cotting students.”
Brandon Hsaio, a sophomore, who is also working with Circle of Friends program, is studying finance at the Carroll School of Management. Outside the classroom, he enjoys playing/watching sports, exploring nature, and thrift shopping! Brandon’s main role is to assist the Cotting staff members in leading games, activities, and engaging conversations. Like Addison, Brandon likes being put in charge of Zoom breakout rooms, or even being a primary leader of the group.
Brandon chose Cotting and Circle of Friends because he is a big supporter of what Cotting stands for. Like Addison, he was involved in high school with a similar club. Brandon enjoyed that experience so much that he knew Cotting would be a great fit and would be the perfect opportunity for him to continue supporting the community this way. Because of the global pandemic and businesses/schools switching to virtual formats, his expectations for service at Cotting were set lower than what a “normal” year would look like. “I severely underestimated how much I would enjoy interacting with every single student and their enthusiasm that they show in every meeting,” he reveals. Cotting students really do bring the energy, and Brandon acknowledges that they “never fail to let their personalities shine… there is never a dull moment!”
Through his experience being a part of Circle of Friends, Brandon has formed many new friendships that continuously develop each and every meeting. Brandon expressed how much joy it brings him to hear students ask him if he will be at the next meeting or when he’s going to visit them: “It is a very warming feeling.”
Marcie Garon and David Largenton, who supervise the PULSE students working with Cotting School, say that both Addison and Brendon have been wonderful additions to the afterschool programs. They are responsible and take their part in our program very seriously. Taking time to chat with all the students, they have been great at leading conversations with staff and students. All of our participants look forward to seeing and chatting with both of them every single week. They show up to every single session ready to do any task asked and the students love having them around because they are so approachable and their responses are so thoughtful and kind. It’s been a win-win all around.
Cotting School’s “Project Bridges” program works to empower students as workers through a community-based volunteer work experience program. Older students work with local employers to develop their vocational and transitional skills while viewing themselves as workers and members of the community outside of Cotting. They are able to contribute to the productivity of different worksites by applying the skills they learn in Project Bridges to a professional setting.
The students love having Will and Devyn in the program! Both PULSE students have been great helping students finish their tasks and giving insight into being a member of the larger community outside of Cotting. Having the PULSE students support has been such a positive experience for both students and staff. Program director Mike Teuber states that Brandon and Addison are perfect peer role models and mentors to all Cotting students and all of Cotting looks forward to their continued interaction heading into the spring! Learn more about Will and Devyn below!
Will Bregenzer is a sophomore from Grand Rapids, Michigan majoring in finance at Boston College. In his free time, he loves to play hockey. Will chose to serve at Cotting School because he has worked with kids with special needs before and wanted to continue his work this year. Will is a helper in the Project Bridges program in two different weekly vocational classes. He meets with a group of Upper School students, aged 15-18, on Wednesday mornings and a group of students at the Capstone level, aged 18-22, on Thursday mornings. During these group meetings, Will has been a resource for students to discuss life after high school and has helped write letters and assemble hygiene kits for a local community center serving those in need. Will was very pleased about how smoothly the program runs in the virtual Zoomsetting, allowing him to engage with students in the class effectively, thus “beyond exceeding” his expectations. From working with the students in Project Bridges, Will has gathered a new understanding and appreciation for those with special needs. His engagement with Cotting’s diverse student body has been a very informative and eye-opening experience.
Mike Teuber says that “Will serves as an enthusiastic role model for the students as someone they relate to while presenting a professional demeanor. He particularly connects with students on athletic and recreational topics, making easy-going connections with students as we gather in a hybrid model and engage in small talk as we are getting settled.”
Devyn Scott is a junior from Charlotte, North Carolina majoring in finance and accounting at Boston College. Her favorite hobby is photography. She chose to serve at Cotting School because Cotting’s mission is very important to her as a close family friend of hers attended a program similar to Cotting. In addition, she was able to witness the beneficial impact that programs like Cotting have on students. Devyn also thought the community surrounding Cotting was wonderful and something that she wanted to be a part of. Devyn is an assistant in the Project Bridges program in two different weekly vocational classes. She meets with a group of Upper School students, aged 15-18, on Thursday afternoons and a group of students at the Capstone level, aged 18-22, on Friday mornings. She attends Zoom meetings and shares her experience at college as well as documenting the housing facilities on campus and discussing her outside internship with our students. Devyn came into the program with a very open mind and expected to learn more about the school and how to best assist students with special needs. From her service, she has had the opportunity to create an environment in which she and the students feel comfortable.
Mike says that Devyn “has brought her experiences to serve as a model for the students interested in post-secondary education. Her preparation and positivity make the virtual divide easy to cross each week as she volunteers in the two classes.”