Kaitlyn Di Lapi ’11 is making a profound difference in the lives of the students she teaches at Harlem Prep.
by Cecil Harris“I taught with some students from other colleges and they didn’t have the experience of student teaching that I had at Adelphi.”–Kaitlyn Di Lapi ’11
While pursuing her master’s degree in community health promotion at Adelphi University, Kaitlyn Di Lapi ’11 is making a profound difference in the lives of the students she teaches at Harlem Prep Middle School, a charter school in New York City.
“I’m the first health and physical education teacher at Harlem Prep,” said Ms. Di Lapi, who earned a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education. “I created the program. It had a lot to do with researching the area, finding out what the people there could afford and listening to community members and the students themselves.”
Ms. Di Lapi received the Marion B. Pollock Fellowship from the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) in March. According to the SOPHE website, the fellowship is bestowed annually to “a talented and committed teacher in an elementary, middle or high school who is enrolled in an accredited graduate health education program and who shows evidence of linking the health needs of children to school health education and advancing the practice of health education.”
“Katie sees community health as something that can work synergistically with her educational background,” said Jean Harris, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Exercise Science, Health Studies, Physical Education and Sport Management, who nominated Ms. Di Lapi for the Pollock Fellowship. “We have so many opportunities for our students to get out there and work with professionals in the field, and that really helps them when they’re doing their student teaching. If somebody else with Katie’s undergraduate training had gone into Harlem Prep, they’d do okay. But with Katie seeing her work through the lens of community health involvement, she and the kids are thriving.”
Ms. Di Lapi, who hails from Franklin Square, New York, chose Adelphi because of the dual health and physical education program. She also convinced her older sister, Christine, to pursue a master’s degree at Adelphi after Christine received a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Queens College.
“As an undergraduate at Adelphi, I had a lot of opportunities to go to different schools for student teaching,” Kaitlyn Di Lapi said. “I taught with some students from other colleges and they didn’t have the experience of student teaching that I had at Adelphi. When I went to other schools, the teachers looked at me and said, ‘This is an Adelphi student. She’s had her feet wet more than the other students.’ So, even when I was just supposed to be observing, the teachers used to tell me, ‘Teach this part of the lesson to the class.’ Adelphi really prepares you for teaching.”
Ms. Di Lapi, who has started a fitness club and a running club at Harlem Prep, says she enjoys interacting with her students and getting to know their parents.
“Communicating with parents is definitely rewarding,” she said. “I have this kid in my class who has been a low-level learner. But, one week, he won Scholar of the Week. I texted his mom and she said, ‘Give him hugs! Give him kisses!’ That’s exciting. I like that.”
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