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Jasmine Purinton
A Steelman summer: senior Jasmine Purinton and child-care youngster Trevon at Families in Transition. Photo by Gary Samson

Teach the Children

"Sometimes it was rough; the kids could be brats," Jasmine Purinton says. "But usually we had a great time. On good days, I felt like I was really making a difference."

Purinton, a UNH senior from Northwood, N.H., worked as a summer intern at Families in Transition, a Manchester-based nonprofit organization that provides transitional housing and support services for homeless women. She ran a child-care program attended by 21 children for several hours a week while their mothers were at community meetings.

Purinton's major project for the summer was developing a curriculum that enables volunteers in the child-care room -- mostly high school girls -- to be teachers, not just babysitters. The 18-month curriculum is built around themes that provide a focus for reading and activities. "Each theme lasts for four weeks," Purinton says. "The kids are learning to look closely at each theme and to associate what they're hearing in stories with what they're doing."

Many of the children in the program don't have anyone to read to them at home, so Purinton also worked on a literacy program for parents. Since Families in Transition already had a good library of children's books, she set up a system to let mothers borrow books, and she developed guidelines to teach them how to read to their children.

For Purinton, a family studies major, this internship has been an invaluable opportunity to get real-world experience in her chosen field. It was made possible by a Steelman fellowship, which is awarded each year to a student in the School of Health and Human Services. The fellowship program, established through a gift from David Steelman '67, '70G and Virginia Theo-Steelman '62, '69G, provides opportunities for students to work with public-service agencies that help vulnerable and disadvantaged people.

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