The Children’s Center on South Street has begun employing Bowdoin students as classroom assistants. This semester, 15 students are working between 5 hours and 15 hours a week with children who range in age from under a year to 5 years old.
Director Martha Eshoo, who started her position in May, said she likes to hire college students to give them a chance to gain experience working with children in a professional setting. When she advertised the center’s new positions, she said she received over 40 applications.
The college students help by reading books to the children, playing with them outside, chaperoning them on short trips, or by helping the center’s staff set up and clean up classroom activities.
Some of the Bowdoin students say their jobs dovetail with their academic interests. Others say they simply enjoy the chance to escape the stresses of college life for a few hours to play with children.
Alex Lynds ’15 plans to major in psychology and is currently taking an infant and child development class with Matthew Gingo, a visiting instructor in psychology. “This position complements my studies well,” she said. “You don’t often get a job that’s as applicable as this one.”
Lynds works in the older toddler room, for children who are 2 to 3 years old. Meanwhile, Kiersten King ’14 is working in the younger toddler room, for children ages 1 to 2. A classical archaeology and anthropology major, King says that while playing with the kids can be physically tiring, she finds it helps her reset her mental state.”The kids are so sweet,” she said. “It’s nice to have an opportunity to interact with kids in a college setting. It’s so refreshing. Playing with them and seeing how happy they are — it’s a good way to get rid of the stresses of the week.”
Vilmarie Taraza ’13 works in the preschool room, for children ages 3 to 5. Taraza is majoring in neuroscience and Spanish; so while her campus job is not directly related to her academics, she says working at the center brings balance to her college life. “They’re at an age when they’re talking,” she said. “Their imaginations are in full force. It’s interesting to listen to them and hear what they come up with and see how they play.”
Sam Miller ’15, one of the classroom assistants, admits, “I love being able to work with kids. It doesn’t feel like a job.”