Leadership in Action – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Leadership in Action

When it came time for Kelsey Lagana ’10 to choose a project required as part of the Colleges’ leadership program, she decided to look into the reorganization of North and West Street Elementary Schools in Geneva. Formerly divided into two K-5 schools, West Street is now home to grades K-2; North Street, 3-5. The decision, made in 2008, aimed to increase students’ academic achievement during their elementary years. Lagana’s research studied teachers’ perceptions about the change and their predictions for the future, which would be gathered using a survey she created. This way, teachers could anonymously voice their opinions about the new model.

At last semester’s Engaged Scholarship Forum, Lagana presented her survey to Assistant Superintendent of Geneva City School District Dr. Paul Darnell, showing how her research could be helpful to schools in advancing student achievement. After the Internal Review Board approved her research, Lagana distributed the survey to educators at the beginning of the year, allowing them to respond candidly and speak to the interests of the community.

“What I wanted to learn was the perceptions in classrooms, especially regarding the possibility of learning cohorts,” Lagana explains. This refers to a system in which the same group of students would learn together throughout their 3 years at each school. This system is not a proposal by Geneva School District, but Lagana was interested in how teachers might feel about such a system.

Her research was a co-cooperative effort supported by Associate Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning Katie Flowers and her advisor, Assistant Professor of Education Khuram Hussain. “This was a unique position for Kelsey to be in,” says Khuram Hussain. “She was the first person in this context to ask these questions in a systematic way.  Kelsey was able to consider others’ perspectives and collaborate with them to meet the needs of Geneva educators.”

Lagana is double majoring in political science and American studies with minors in education and European Studies. She is also a Bonner Leader of Literacy and a Resident Assistant. In addition, she will be presenting her research findings at the Senior Symposium, which will take place on Friday, April 9.

HWS Leads is the Centennial Center’s Leadership Certificate Program, designed to provide students with a comprehensive foundation of knowledge, behaviors and skills to become more effective leaders, whether for a club or an organization, in the community, or in their everyday lives.

In the photo above, Lagana is pictured with Professor Hussain.