Mount Union Students Teach in Charleston, S.C.
March 15, 2012
Several middle childhood education majors at the University of Mount Union spent their spring break teaching in Charleston, South Carolina.
For the 12th consecutive year, Peter Schneller, professor of education and co-chair of the Department of Education, led an educational spring break trip to Charleston. Six middle childhood education students were led by Schneller; Ivory Lyons, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies and assistant to the president for diversity affairs, and Father Saji Themgunkudiyil, visiting professor from Christ University in Bangalore, India. While there, students taught test-taking skills at The Apple Charter School and Fort Johnson Middle School. The group also participated in a service project at the P.I.N.K. H.O.U.S.E., an after school program for children in Charleston.
“It’s all about diversity,” Schneller said of the trip. “Students travel to a different area of the United States and meet people of different races and socioeconomic statues. They find out they’re all the same. This group had a very successful trip.”
To prepare for the trip, students did a great deal of preparation both inside and outside of the classroom, Schneller said. The annual trip is paid for through a grant from an anonymous donor who supports educational endeavors. At the Apple Charter School, Mount Union students talked to seventh grade girls about negative drama and gossip. Mount Union students used the acronym D.R.A.M.A. and made it positive, talking about how it represents Decision, Respect, Attitude, Maturity and Alliance. After the lesson, seventh graders wrote a pledge to live a positive, “D.R.A.M.A.-filled” life.
“It was an experience that we wouldn’t have been able to get in Ohio,” said Lauren Frost, a junior middle childhood education major of Youngstown. “The charter school we worked with had unbelievable staff and that allowed us to really get to know the students well because they were all about helping the students in any way possible. We were able to connect with the students on a level that you normally wouldn’t be able to in a regular classroom setting.”
When they weren’t teaching, students also made time for some sight seeing, and activities included touring Charleston, visiting The Citadel and attending and having lunch at New Francis Brown Church.
Schneller said that the Charleston trip gets students excited about teaching.
“They really feel at the end of the week like they’re real teachers,” Schneller said. “There’s a collaborative feeling they get from being part of a teaching team.”
“I thought the trip was really rewarding,” said junior middle childhood education major Vicki Ammond of Dellroy. “You could tell the students really got into the lesson. At the end of the lesson, they were standing in one big group. It felt like we really changed their lives.”