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Students learn by taking over Baldwin classrooms

St. Christopher School eighth-grader Sean Callaghan, 14, of

St. Christopher School eighth-grader Sean Callaghan, 14, of Baldwin, takes over Christopher Nappi's fifth-grade math class for one period on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 as part of a National Catholic Schools Week program. (Credit: Tara Conry)

It was a mini student takeover.

For the first three periods at St. Christopher School in Baldwin on Wednesday, students dressed in formal work attire served as teachers, school nurses and administrators.

Among them, Sean Callaghan, who conducted a math lesson from behind the desk usually occupied by fifth-grade teacher Christopher Nappi.


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“The students look forward to this day every year,” said Principal Anne Lederer, who added that the event has coincided with National Catholic Schools Week for 10 years.

Callaghan was one of 52 student participants in the event, which also included Abigail Holfelder, 13, of Freeport, and Kenny Bradley, 13, of Uniondale, who took turns as principal.

It wasn’t all fun and games leading up to the big day.

Lederer said each student had to meet with the faculty member they were substituting for to understand their responsibilities. Students filling in for teachers had to create lesson plans.

“I realized that they do put a lot of effort into teaching us,” said Arielle Francois, 13, of Freeport, who led a sixth-grade class through a literature lesson.

Many of the eighth-graders said the experience left them with an appreciation for their teachers. Some are even contemplating an education career.

“I might want to be a teacher,” Francois added.

Freeport’s Gyanna Taveras and Baldwin’s Katherine McQuillan, both 13, spent the morning leading 20 kindergarten students through group prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, songs and story time.

“I think I could do that for the rest of my life,” Taveras said.

As for Callaghan, his math lesson was a hit.

The room fell silent as students tried to solve his math question. When one answered correctly, classmates erupted with cheers and applause.

“They were excited,” Callaghan, 14, of Baldwin, said. “They were happy to not just be learning straight out of the textbook.”

And while Callaghan said teaching probably is not going to be in his future, he recognizes how difficult it is.

“It definitely taught me to be a little bit easier on the teachers.”

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