Students and teachers in the pre-school at the Cranston Area Career and Technical Center (CACTC) had the opportunity to video conference with a soldier serving in Afghanistan earlier this month, as part of a community service project that the class was taking part in.
Cranston West alumni Steven Moretti, father of Mia Moretti, has been serving his second tour of duty overseas as a squad leader with the U.S. Army since last summer and is halfway through his current tour.
“We had really been wanting to do something for Mia's dad and his platoon,” said Charlene Barbieri, director of the CACTC pre-school center along with colleague Bethany Correia. “This care package is really a collaborative effort with several programs here at CACTC and Cranston West.”
In addition to the efforts of the Child Development program, the school librarian, Susan Evje, was instrumental in setting up the Skype video connection with Moretti. Art educator Claudia Venditto led the pre-school students in a multi-step Valentine's heart ceramics project, which will be sent to Moretti in the care package along with heart-shaped cookies decorated by the students. Additionally, the students were read aloud "Guess How Much I Love You," by Sam McBratney.
Mia's mom, Beth Moretti, also a graduate of Cranston West, was present for the Skype session, leading the students in a question and answer session with Steven. At the time of the connection, it was 9 a.m. East Coast time and 6:30 p.m. in Afghanistan, where Moretti would soon be heading to work. Beth said that regularly scheduled Skype sessions help her husband get through the tour of duty.
Barbieri was thrilled that the Skype session and coordinating projects were all coming together to help such a special member of the Cranston community.
“We love inviting special guests into our classroom. It gives the students a sense of community and how each person is valued in the community,” said Barbieri. “It also helps them to understand the needs of others and demonstrate empathy and appreciation of the people and places that make up our community.”
The Skype session tied in well with several themes being taught in the pre-school classroom, including citizenship, diversity and tolerance. Barbieri believes that community service projects "ensure that children are aware of and respect another person's interest preferences and cultural background."
The Child Development program at CACTC is a comprehensive program, offered at the honors level, which educates the high school students enrolled in the program in the many areas of child development.
The hands-on program allows the high school students the opportunity to learn how to teach young children at the pre-school level, as well as gives them parenting skills.
This program focuses on basic competencies such as career opportunities, application of child development principles, curriculum planning and preparation, child guidance and teaching and more.
Barbieri and Correia operate a full-year nursery at CACTC, where the high school students get hands-on pre-school experience, and then intern at local elementary schools to gain an understanding of entry level and professional careers related to child development. The program has articulation agreements with both the University of Rhode Island and the Community College of Rhode Island.
As the Skype session ended and Moretti said goodbye to the students and his family, there was not a dry eye in the room amongst the high school students and other adults.