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The Power of Community

by Elizabeth Yarussi on March 4, 2019
The Power of Community

Elizabeth Yarussi is a student in the Ph.D. in leadership and policy program. She is also a graduate assistant for the Institute for Applied Learning.

Hello! My name is Elizabeth Yarussi. I am a lifelong learner that embraces every opportunity to learn, grow, advance my knowledge, and skill sets professionally, academically, and personally.

I earned a bachelor of arts in education from Niagara University as well as a master of science in education from Niagara University. At the completion of my studies, I became New York state certified to teach Spanish Grades 7-12, TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Grades Pre-K-12 and certified as a Literacy Specialist, Birth to Grade 12.

In fall 2016, a new journey would elevate not only my academic experiences, but my professional and personal experiences as well. I returned to Niagara University to pursue a Ph.D. in leadership and policy. My acceptance to the program lead to the inception of a new career opportunity working as a PhD Assistant in the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M. Institute for Civic Engagement. Over the past few years, I had opportunities to acquire knowledge about the theoretical underpinnings of leadership and policy as well as master skills in the practical application of leadership and policy analysis. I use the knowledge and expertise gained from program coursework in my daily employment to seek higher levels.

This position afforded me the opportunity to become the literacy outreach coordinator in the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M. Institute for Civic Engagement. As the literacy outreach coordinator, I work directly with undergraduate and graduate students in the College of Education in various capacities. Through our outreach efforts, I have worked closely with NU students to provide literacy programs for children in our community from birth to grade 12. I assist students with the planning, implementation, and reflection of lessons plans. We discuss learning objectives; alignment of learning standards, evidence based best practices, and more, in order to provide effective lessons and engaging instruction to members of our community.

Programs are planned to reach a range of children and their unique abilities and interests which include early literacy skills (i.e., letter identification, phonics, word reading, etc.), literacy and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), literacy and sports/recreation, creative literacy, and more. In addition, we provide workshops for parents and grandparents in the local community, sharing valuable information on how children acquire literacy skills, learning expectations and assessment of literacy in schools, and best practices on how to support the literacy development and growth of their child(ren) at home.

This position allows me to integrate expertise with passion while I further advance my career. I feel very accomplished in the work that I am able to complete through my assistantship in the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M. Institute for Civic Engagement. The literacy outreach programs offered each semester are deeply rooted in the Vincentian mission as they seek to serve those most in need. Throughout my tenure in this position, I have acquired a sense of responsibility to use my knowledge in teaching, learning, researching, and leading to serve my community for years to come. This belief instilled in me throughout my experiences with staff, faculty, students and community members at Niagara.

For more information on the Ph.D. in leadership and policy, please contact the College of Education Office at or 716.286.8336.