DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > New programs launched to support learning for children of DePaul community members

New programs launched to support learning for children of DePaul community members


The Theatre School's Creative Root
(Image courtesy of The Theatre School)
​​​Parenting isn't easy. Parenting during a pandemic can feel impossible. This academic year, areas across the university introduced a number of educational programs to help support children of DePaul community members. From theatre arts to digital 3D-modeling, each program provides an online supplemental learning experience for children that also has educational benefits for DePaul students.

DePaul Open Windows

When Chicago's elementary and secondary schools switched to all remote learning at the beginning of the pandemic, the College of Education faced an extra dilemma. How would education majors earn their teacher training credit if they couldn't be inside the classroom?

Some universities opted to share video recordings with their education students. DePaul's Department of Teacher Education took that a step further and also created a remote learning program that matches children of faculty and staff with a College of Education student for one-on-one teaching sessions.

Called DePaul Open Windows, or DePOW, the project invites faculty and staff with children in 1st through 8th grade to register their children for a weekly 30-60 minute online lesson led by an education major. Children have the benefit of one-on-one attention, while DePaul education majors practice skills related to teaching subjects including literature, social studies, arts methods and math.

“When I first heard of DePOW, I was skeptical it was not going to work as well as being in person. Once I met the student I was going to be working with, everything changed," says A.J. Roberts, a student in the College of Education and DePOW teacher. “I was able to work one-on-one with my student and develop not just their learning, but mine as well. By taking part in DePOW, I was able to grow as a new teacher and make an experience like no other."

More information about DePOW, including spring registration, is available here.

IRL Kids Program

The DePaul Idea Realization Lab, or IRL, hosts an online after-school program for kids ages 7-12 to teach the basics of 3D-modeling and prototyping. Led by DePaul students Andres Legunas and Maddie Fernandez Laris, the IRL Kids Program uses Minecraft Education to teach participants about such topics as ecosystems, architecture and biomes.

Children of faculty, staff and students gather on a weekly basis via Zoom for a lecture and interactive play on Minecraft. This spring quarter, the program will focus on conservation and building habitats to protect orangutans.

“The whole experience has been very Socratic with children engaging in lectures focused on architecture, basic design concepts and animal conservation. They then apply the lecture to in-game models," say Legunas and Fernandez Laris. “Personally, it has been nice to connect with children and learn from their creativity. It has been a pleasure getting to create a virtual community, and the IRL staff is very appreciative of the support we get from DePaul community members."

To learn more, visit the IRL Kids Program website.

Creative Root   

The Theatre School launched Creative Root to offer remote and in-person learning opportunities for children, as well as adults. The program employs a holistic theatre arts education strategy to empower young people and adult learners with the tools necessary to believe in their own creative voice, collaborate with others and lift their mind-body-spirit connection. As part of its mission, Creative Root combines mindfulness with high-quality theatre skills training into every class.

Programs are available for children ages 4 and up. Youth topics range from imaginative play to comedy to musical theater. Creative Root instructors are experienced teaching artists with credentials that include The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, Raven Theatre and Steppenwolf. This spring quarter, DePaul Theatre School graduates Bella Coelho, Liv Shine and Abby Wesley will be teaching artists.

Registration is now open for spring classes, which start this Saturday, April 10. View the Creative Root spring schedule and learn more on the program's website.

Planning ahead for summer camp? Creative Root Summer Camp's Explore-a-story-dom will dive into the wondrous worlds of Oz and Neverland with both in-person and remote options available for families. Registration will open for ages 6-14 at the end of April. ​​