Etown Graduate Student Grows Her Appreciation of Creativity Beyond the Classroom
The lessons taught in Dr. Kathryn Caprino’s Integrated Strategies for Creative Expression in the Early Childhood course inspired an Elizabethtown graduate student to continue her Passion Project even after their semester together came to an end.
Dr. Caprino, an assistant professor of education at Etown, developed the idea of the Passion Project assignment after seeing many other educators across the country implementing similar creativity-based projects into their curriculum. Her students are able to choose any creative endeavor that incorporates elements of imagination, creativity, play, and sharing, in hopes that they can apply what they learn from their project to their future early childhood classroom. Caprino believes it is critical to give all students the time and space to be creative.
“I want my students to build in time into their lives – not just for the sake of my class – for creativity,” said Caprino. “I hope that by doing a Passion Project they can experience the benefits of living a creative life and commit to creating spaces in their classrooms for their students to be creative.”
Emma Stahl, a 2020 Elizabethtown College graduate and current graduate student in the Special Education Master’s Program, chose to start an herb garden for her Passion Project in Caprino’s course last semester. She started the garden in the STEM lab in Nicarry Hall but had to bring it home because of the school closure. Her garden has now expanded to include fruits and vegetables as well and has become a more permanent feature of her home. Unable to eat the huge amount of produce herself, she has started selling some of the crops at a stand near her home.
“It started out as a school project but is now a huge stress reliever in my life,” Stahl said. “I’ve been able to work together with people to create what it is now. It’s been such a positive impact for me.”
Stahl has always been an advocate for active learning and said her Passion Project helped her explore ways to incorporate creativity into the classroom, which was Caprino’s hope for the assignment.
“The assignments we do in class can have a lasting impact on our students,” she said, “and inspire them to do well after they leave our classrooms.”
After she completes the Master’s Program, Stahl plans to move back to her home state of New Jersey to find a job in education. Her goal is to eventually return to school to get her principal certificate and eventually her doctorate.