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Mount Union Education Majors Mentor Area Middle School Writers

September 21, 2006

Mount Union College was host to the 'Touching the Future Together' program on Thursday, September 21. This program is an on-going partnership project between Mount Union education students and advanced writers from Stanton Middle School in Kent.

Deborah Walker's Teaching Reading and Writing in Middle School class partnered with Kathy Frazier, a gifted educational specialist, in creating authentic meaningful learning experiences for the Mount Union education candidates as well as the middle school students.

The day-long program featured the country's first portable ropes course and climbing wall, from Expedition Earth in Columbus. The activities were provided to help the students get to know one another, establish common goals and create a trusting relationship.

'The program was absolutely amazing,' said Margo Bell, a senior English major from Carrollton. 'Not only did we get to meet some extremely intelligent kids, but we were able to really bond with them through the ropes-course activities.

'It is really inspiring to see these kids, who don't have to be here, working hard and wanting to improve themselves by participating in extracurricular activities such as the 'Touching the Future Together' program,' she added. 'I was so impressed with their enthusiasm, behavior and desire to participate.'

Mount Union students have been matched as mentors with the middle school students to work on researching a specific topic. The education majors have been asked to incorporate technology into the program by creating a web trek to help the middle school writers in acquiring research.

'I loved the opportunity to get to know my mentee,' said Courtney Rohr, a junior middle childhood education major from West Lafayette. 'She told me early in the day that she was so nervous for the ropes course because she was scared of heights. When I asked her at lunch what her favorite part of the day was, she told me that it was the ropes course! She was so proud that she completed it.'

The middle school writers have been asked to choose from five topics: Protection of National Treasures, Cultural Prejudice, Privacy, Fundraising and Caring for the Elderly.

Over the course of the two-month project the middle school students will send their drafts to their 'college partners' via e-mail, and the college students will hone their 'e-editing skills' by giving advice and other ideas for improvement for the scenario. Support and encouragement will also be a part of the mentor-student relationship in helping to achieve successful completion of this challenging writing project.

The final piece of the project will take place in November, when the middle school students return to Mount Union for the 'Meeting of the Minds.' This will provide an opportunity for the students to share their scenarios and celebrate their accomplishments. Events of the day will include an award ceremony and a tour of the campus.

Each student will receive a copy of all of the scenarios in a book format. The book will be placed in various community and educational facility libraries. Some of the scenarios will be entered in the Future Problem Solving Scenario Writing Project competition in Columbus.

'I thought this project was amazing,' said Krista Reich, a junior middle childhood education major from Tallmadge. 'The kids were working together, and it was a great opportunity to bond.'

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