Sleepy Hollow High School senior Lia Huben may not become a music teacher, but she wanted to try it out. “I think I want to study music production in college,” Huben said, “but I also wanted to find out what it was like to teach music.” And, as a Walkabout student, that’s exactly what she did.
Huben got the opportunity to observe and assist Sleepy Hollow High School/Middle School music teacher Micah Sprague for the past few weeks as part of her community service requirement with Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES Walkabout, a unique yearlong program for college-bound seniors.
“The first week, I just observed the music classes in the high school and middle school,” Huben said. “But then, by the second week, I was helping give guitar and drum lessons. It’s nice sharing what I know. It’s a great feeling!”
Teacher Micah Sprague found Huben to be a real asset in the classroom.
“Lia worked on rebuilding our music library by organizing and cataloguing music in a database and filing it in our new Music File System in addition to observing and assisting in all of the music classes we offer in the middle school and high school,” he said. “Lia was wonderful. She was punctual, hardworking, helpful, and very professional. It was a pleasure to have her with us.”
Music isn’t the only thing Huben is interested in pursuing.
“I took a psychology class at school last year, and I loved it,” she said. “I really want to explore that possibility as well!”
As a Walkabout student, Huben will be able to do that too. Students in the program complete a 10-week internship where they work in professional settings of their choice. “I want to split the time up, if possible, between working in a music production capacity and at a hospital’s mental health program,” Huben said.
Aside from the five-week service-learning project and 10 week internship, Walkabout students earn a full year of academic credit and spend two weeks backpacking as a group to gain confidence and build a sense of community, while fulfilling their New York State physical education requirement.
During both their internship and their service assignment, students attend classes at BOCES one day a week and are required to complete academic homework assignments.
“The sense of community among the Walkabout students is amazing,” Huben said. “You meet people that are not just from your neighborhood. Everyone helps each other out, and the mood is more helpful than competitive. Everyone wants everyone else to succeed. The backpacking trip really helped us to get to know each other better.”
Many graduates credit the program, which was founded in 1977, with changing their life.
“I think being part of Walkabout has helped me grow as a person and helped me know more about the outside world,” Huben said. “I just took a great class here on Cultural Studies, which was something you might not find in a traditional high school.”
Walkabout has been proven effective by the New York State Education Department and has been named one of the top 40 experientially oriented programs in the United States by the National Institute of Education.
Like most Walkabout students, Huben is headed for college. More than 92 percent of Walkabout students go on to college, with graduates attending schools such as SUNY New Paltz, Pace University, SUNY Purchase, Bard College, School of Visual Arts (SVA) and many others.
Huben is enthusiastic about all of the aspects of the Walkabout program, and she is not alone. “The mood of everyone here — students and teachers — is really happy.”