Teacher Education Faculty Support BU International Students and Area Literacy Endeavors

Anastasia Czernetskaya Receives a Scholarship from PAFIS.

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November 5, 2013

Members of the Bradley University Community provide much leadership in the PAFIS organization (Peoria Area Friends of International Students). This organization supports college students in the Peoria area who come from several nations, including India, the Czech Republic, Finland, Brazil, Russia and Malaysia. When foreign students come to Peoria, they can join an area family or single adults in a partnership wherein they can learn about the United States and participate with Americans in area activities. Teacher Education professors Drs. Heljä Antola-Crowe and Patricia Chrosniak are among the PAFIS committee members. Together with other PAFIS members, these professors try to make PAFIS events and life in Peoria enjoyable for the international students. Dr. Antola-Crowe regularly leads games at the annual PAFIS orientation picnic and held a pumpkin carving event at her home; Dr. Chrosniak creates and arranges an information booth each year at the International Fest, an annual event held at the Peoria Civic Center.  She also provides housing for new students when there is a special need. The International Fest draws thousands of participants from around Illinois who learn about over a dozen countries represented. International Fest events include information booths, dance and song demonstrations and ethnic foods from restaurants in the Peoria area.

At the PAFIS Harvest Dinner, international students are awarded scholarships for study at Bradley. Drs. Antola-Crowe and Chrosniak were part of a large team that prepared a full Thanksgiving dinner for partnership hosts and their students. This year one of three scholarships was given to Anastasia Czernetskaya, who has completed an MS degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

This past year a former student member of PAFIS became the Director of Adult Programs at Common Place, a nonprofit group dedicated to literacy, located in Peoria’s south side. Catherine Agallo graduated from BU with her MS degree in Educational Leadership from the College of Education and Health Sciences. In her new job at Common Place she sees many BU Teacher Education students who serve as reading tutors for children and teens in the organization’s after-school programs. The BU students are introduced to Common Place by the America Reads Program and through class activities with Dr. Jeanne Muzzillo, professor of English education. Dr. Muzzillo teaches courses to ETE students pursuing careers as secondary and middle school English teachers.  She and Dr. Chrosniak also participate in leadership roles with Common Place administrators, staff and community members.

Another significant event at Common Place is the annual Walk for Reading. This year, four ETE students participated in the Walk along with Dr. Chrosniak. Rachel Schoenbeck, Kelli Pinsky, and Jaclyn Kraynak, all juniors in secondary math education, walked as a team. The fourth individual who participated, Steven Nicholson, is a sophomore elementary education major.

To find out more about PAFIS or Common Place, visit their websites on Facebook.