Meaghan Haugh

Rider’s Student Education Association (SEA) captured the spirit of the season, brightening the lives of a Rider alumnus and her students just in time for the holidays. The SEA recently held its second annual Adopt-a-Classroom Donation Drive, where students collected backpacks and supplies to donate to Andrea Giuliani’s pre-kindergarten class at the Puerto Rican Community Day Care Center in Trenton.

This semester, Giuliani, who earned dual degrees in Elementary Education and Communication from Rider in 2005, returned to campus to speak to current Education students during a SEA-sponsored panel, where alumni shared their experiences as teachers. The SEA decided to help Giuliani’s class after they learned that while most of her classroom resources are funded by the state, many of her students do not have their own supplies.

“This year, we decided to focus more on the kids and collect items that they could enjoy at home,” said Laura Meyers, president of SEA and a junior Elementary Education and Psychology dual major.

In the season’s spirit of giving, the SEA executive board and student volunteers jumped into action and collected 18 backpacks and five drawstring bags filled with puzzles, coloring books, crayons, markers and colored pencils. On Wednesday, December 16, student volunteers gathered in the Bart Luedeke Center on the Lawrenceville campus to wrap the supplies and additional gifts for Giuliani, including multicultural children’s books, puzzles and bulletin board items. Later that day, some of the students delivered the gifts to Giuliani’s class.

“They were the cutest kids ever. They started to put the backpacks on their shoulders. At first, no one realized that they had supplies inside,” said Meyers about the visit to Giuliani’s classroom. “Since we pretty much covered her class, the extra supplies can be donated to other children in need at the school.”

SEA aims to organize one or two service projects a year. In the past, SEA has helped collect items for Toys for Tots. Last year, the organization collected school supplies for 2005 alumnus Lynnette Dortrait’s class at Liberty Academy Charter School in Jersey City, N.J.

“It really gave a true meaning for what the holidays are about,” said Michael Degasperi, the SEA community service chair, about this year’s drive. “It shows that I will still have support from Rider even when I become a high-school teacher.”

Giuliani, who plans to also pursue a Master of Educational Administration from Rider, said the smiles on her students’ faces were priceless.

“Being a Rider alumna, I just thought it was wonderful to see how these students held this drive for a community that was not their own,” Giuliani said. “I think it says a lot about their character and their dedication for their future careers as teachers.”