CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Samantha Klein's self-confidence has grown more in the last six months than in all of her 16 years thanks to a BOCES program that focuses on experiential learning, her mother, Robin Goldberg, said.
Before joining Walkabout at the start of her senior year at Horace Greeley, Klein, 16, of Mount Kisco, said she would fade into the back of the classroom, hesitant to be the one to raise her hand in class. She would dread ordering pizza because she didn’t have the confidence to talk to adults, Walkabout Team Leader Rob Angiello, said.
Now, five months later, she has shed her shell and learned to go above and beyond what is expected of her, both in and outside of the classroom. During a Walkabout service project, in which Klein worked with young children, she learned some sign language to be able to better communicate with one child who was deaf.
In recognition of her progress, Angiello presented Klein with a student of distinction award at the Chappaqua school board meeting Wednesday night.
“One of the aspects I really like about Walkabout is the discussion-based classes because I used to be able to get away with just sitting in the back of the classroom,” she said.
Her success at Walkabout is based on interacting with peers and adults, which she said challenges her to face her fears.
Walkabout is a non-profit organization that has offered its extra-curricular program through Northern Westchester BOCES to participating schools for 37 years. It gives students, like Klein, a chance to stand out, rather than fade into the crowd, Angiello said.
“A lot of kids are good at academics,” Angiello said. “But what’s different, and what Walkabout really tries to instill in students, is the sense that ‘this is my life and I’m doing this in service of goals I’ve chosen for myself.’”
“She’s really taken that ownership from here,” he said.
Klein, who has been accepted to Bard College, is taking Advanced Placement English, Psychology and Drawing. While many kids revel in their light schedules senior year, Goldberg said her daughter is keeping busy.
As part of the Walkabout program, which Klein does on top of her already heavy workload, students went on a five-day backpacking trip. Students wore 50-pound backpacks, Angiello said.
“One of the things we hope students get from that, besides a [physical education] credit, is a knowledge, from doing something really difficult physically, that you have power inside you that you haven’t tapped,” he said. “And then from that comes confidence to then carry on in the rest of your life.”