Northwest students accompanied children on a tour to the The Ministry Center to learn about the needs of local families and the community.

A group of Northwest Missouri State University education students have partnered with a Maryville church program.

The students in Northwest’s School of Education recently worked with children at the Maryville First United Methodist Church’s COOL Kids program to create and plan a project that resulted in purchasing turkeys to help local families with their holiday meals. One turkey could be purchased for every $7 collected and the project collected nearly $700 while providing more than 90 families with a turkey for their holiday meal.

“The final outcome far exceeded anything we, myself and the students, could have imagined,” Dr. Merlene Gilb, assistant professor of professional education at Northwest, said. “By staying responsive to the children’s interests and allowing for the project to be open-ended and self-directed, the students brought forward both initiative and intrinsic motivation that helped propel this project forward.”

As part of the program, the children worked with Northwest students in the management course to choose and plan a project to help their community. The children devised the project to purchase turkeys after touring the The Ministry Center.

The course project helped Northwest students find opportunities that were based on the children’s interests and passions.

Pairs of Northwest students oversee the planning, management and leadership of the COOL Kids program on Wednesday evenings. Each Monday, the students spend class time processing the previous week’s experience and plan for the upcoming week.

“The children construct genuine knowledge for themselves and practiced empathy and respect for their fellow learners, extending that empathy in a tangible way to their community,” Gilb said. “In the end, the Northwest students and the children experienced how – in this diverse world – we can share and show compassion. Together we can make a difference.”