Supporting social-emotional learning for middle school students is critical to academic success, according to research led by Hailey DeCoffe '21 M.Ed '22. This weekend, she'll present her findings to roughly 1,300 aspiring educators at the Educators Rising Annual National Conference. The virtual event brings together hundreds of high school students from across the U.S. who aspire to join the education field and enter undergraduate teacher education programs.
"It is truly an honor to have the opportunity to share my research and experiences with this group of students who share the same passion for education," she says. "It is so important that teachers come together as a community to support each other, and I hope to support the future educators from Educators Rising by sharing what I have learned."
Her presentation, "Supporting Pre-Adolescent Students in their Transition to Middle School," is a culmination of years of undergraduate research she led at Curry reviewing professional literature and joining professional development opportunities surrounding the topic. DeCoffe was first asked to present on the subject at the New Hampshire Chapter of Educators Rising. The national organization then extended an invitation to speak at its national conference this summer. Her talk will highlight how positive youth development and social-emotional learning are vital components supporting students' social, emotional, and academic development in middle school.
"In my research, I found there is a mismatch between the middle school environment and the developmental needs of pre-adolescent students," says DeCoffe. "As students transition to middle school, educators often forget that pre-adolescent students' social-emotional developmental needs are still great, and my research aims to show how pre-adolescent students must be supported holistically to encourage their academic achievement."
Outside of her presentation at the national event, DeCoffe has a full summer. She's enrolled in three graduate courses in the Master of Education program at Curry. She was motivated to pursue her graduate degree in the College's 5th Year Master of Education program, which allows her to earn two degrees in five years, saving time and tuition.
"It was important for me to stay here at Curry for my Master's for the same reason that I chose the school for my undergraduate degree and what became even more apparent while attending the school; the Education program at Curry is a community of future educators and faculty and staff who are driven to change the lives of our future generation," she says. "The faculty are committed to ensuring that all students in the program are supported and successful in becoming the most effective educators and model effective leadership and teaching practices for their students."
Decoffe plans to pursue the Special Education track in the graduate program to advance her skills in meeting the needs of diverse learners. "One of my career goals is to become a mathematics specialist or interventionist to help students with unique and significant needs in mathematics. This advanced degree will equip me with the skills needed to teach students with diverse and significant needs effectively."
On top of her graduate work, Decoffe is creating enrichment opportunities for students in the Knights of Summer Camp program offered through the Stoughton Public School District. The aspiring middle school math teacher is also applying and interviewing for jobs. "I hope to become a full-time classroom teacher in the fall."