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Compass students Austin Ielpi, Lylah Hakimoglu, and Elijah Alexander work with Parks Place Executive Director Christine Bullard.

BELLOWS FALLS >> Parks Place Community Resource Center and the Greater Falls Community Justice Center co-hosted a group of five students from the Compass School during the school's Community Service Winter Term at the end of February.

The goal of the program is for students to work in teams to apply their academic learning to help address real community needs.

"I was amazed at all that they accomplished in one week," said Christine Bullard, Executive Director of Parks Place.

Students learned about Parks Place and the Greater Falls Community Justice Center along with the over 35 local, state, non-profit organizations that reside at Parks Place. Each of the five students shared their talents; creating a Facebook page, a new web page and interviewing providers for a future publication, not to mention the hard labor of moving the GFCJC from upstairs to their new downstairs office.

Bianca Zaransky, Director for the Justice Center was incredibly impressed by the variety of skill sets and interests that the Compass School crew brought to the table.

"I was also blown away by how much the kids had to teach me. They were a wealth of knowledge about technology use and application. They also taught me some things about community resources that I wasn't aware of — a learning experience for all of us."

The team of five student workers was paired with a teacher-coach, Eric Rhomberg, who helped the students clarify expectations, and organize themselves to help address the work at hand.


"Our students were excited to see that they legitimately had knowledge and skills that were uniquely valuable to the organizations we were working with. Even as high school students, they had expertise and perspectives that the adult professionals truly benefitted from receiving."

Rhomberg felt that the experience for the students was highly educational.

"Our students learned a lot about the complexities of a dynamic work environment that requires flexibility and creative problem solving. This was challenging for them. And they were also very inspired by the great human services mission of Parks Place."

"This work asks students to take knowledge and skills developed in their classes and other life experience and apply it to real world problems," said Compass School Director Rick Gordon. "Transfer of academic learning to new situations is one of the elusive goals in education. It's incredible to see students draw on all sorts of skills and learning to serve real community needs."