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Lauren Bannon ’02, a behavioral neuroscience major, served an internship during the fall semester at Stepping Stone School in Bloomsbury, N.J., which teaches children ages six through eighteen who have emotional and behavioral disorders.

“The focus of my internship was working with children who have behavioral disorders, mainly attention deficit disorder, conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder, in a school setting,” says Bannon. “I interacted with a lot of people, both students and staff at the school. I gained experience in educating children who are unable to learn in a ‘normal’ school environment and I learned a lot about interacting with people and helping others.”

Bannon’s internship was done within the framework of Advanced Applied Psychology, a course in which students apply their knowledge from academic coursework to a field setting. The students meet as a group every other week to discuss their experiences and meet weekly with the course instructor, Jeannine Pinto, assistant professor of psychology. Bannon spent nine hours a week at Stepping Stone School, with her primary responsibility being to help students focus on the activity or work at hand.

“I decided to do this internship because I’m interested in pursuing a career in special education and I wanted to experience teaching children with attention and behavior disorders to see if this is the area I wish to specialize in,” says Bannon.

Pat James, an administrator and computer teacher at Stepping Stone School, was one of Bannon’s supervisors. James says that all the teachers and staff gave her rave reviews. “Lauren was very enthusiastic about her work here and that motivated everyone around her,” says James. “She took initiative and had a great rapport with the students.” James explains that students at Stepping Stone are at different scholastic levels and have individualized books, so teaching takes place mainly on a one-on-one basis.

“Our students need a lot of redirecting to what they’re doing and Lauren helped focus their attention,” says James. “Also, student interns like Lauren are really good role models for the children.”

The internship gave Bannon the opportunity to apply techniques and theories learned in the classroom. “It was different from other academic pursuits in that I had a chance to interact with real people who have these disorders, which surpasses any knowledge you can gain from simple book knowledge.”

Bannon recalls a seven-year-old taking part in a kickball game who kept losing focus. “Here we are playing kickball and he’s picking up rocks as the ball rolls right by him,” says Bannon. “He just was not able to focus and follow along.” Bannon learned through observation how teachers handle these children and followed their lead. In this case, she kept reminding the boy to get back to the game.

“I really enjoyed being able to use what I learned in my academic career at Lafayette and apply this knowledge to children in a way that bettered their lives as well as mine,” says Bannon. “Just my presence there seemed to help them remember what they were supposed to be doing. I feel like I made a difference in their lives.”

Her performance was so favorable that the school offered Bannon a substitute teaching position for next semester.

“The academic environment is strong at Lafayette,” she says. “Students are encouraged to put their academics before extracurricular activities, which I think is very important. There are numerous academic experiences that students can choose to partake in, which rely on the student’s drive and desire and which students have to actively pursue.”

Bannon is a member of the Lafayette Society of Neuroscience, which was founded this fall, and the International Students Association. She has been an Introductory Biology teaching assistant, president of the El Mundo multicultural living group, and a volunteer at the August Survivor Center in Easton.

Categorized in: Academic News