The College of Staten Island women’s softball program, guided by Head Coach Dr. Stella Porto, is getting ready to begin the 2011 season, and in preparation, the team is gaining some outside the classroom work in as well, partnering with P25R South Richmond School for a co-op campus clean-up work-study program.  Designed as a community service project for the diamond-goers, the program goes even farther, incorporating the ideas of student observation for the team comprised mainly of Education majors at CSI.
“Most of our players are student-teachers, who between their studies, softball and classroom field work, have very little time to do observations and studies into special-needs students,” explained Porto.  With the help of P25R’s Mr. James McKeon and CSI Athletic Director Vernon Mummert, a bond was formed, getting students from P25R to enjoy the sprawling CSI campus, aimed at a generic clean up program that gets them out of the classroom to fulfill community service time of their own.
“It’s a win-win for us,” says Porto, who oversees the students assisting with inventory and helping the Buildings & Grounds team at CSI with simple clean-up.  The students at P25R, who range in age from 14-18 are supervised by CSI softball players, who forge special one-on-one bonds with the youths, giving them valuable observation experience and a chance to work with special-needs students for the first time.
“Our players are gaining some excellent vocational and social skills.  the experience with special-needs students will open their eyes to the possibility of being a special education teacher,” said Porto.
The program at CSI will run for several weeks leading up to the official start of the CSI Women’s Softball season which kicks off in late-March.  Several students at P25R can’t wait for the weather to break, so that they can return to a clean CSI campus to see their favorite softball stars play.
“Being involved with this is terrific,” says Porto.  “The kids are having a blast, and our students are developing an appreciation towards working with then and their role of enrichment.”