Hamilton’s Education Studies students enrolled in Education, Teaching and Social Change with Visiting Assistant Professor of Education Studies Meredith Madden concluded an experiential learning project that partnered them with Central New York high schools during the spring semester.
Through the course, students examined theories and practices of social justice education. They explored methods to move scholarship to action that resulted in college-community partnerships with students in Laura Copperwheat’s 12th grade English Language Arts (ELA) class at Vernon-Verona High School (VVS), and students in Christine Scharf’s 11th grade ELA class at Rome Free Academy (RFA).
Hamilton students listened to the needs and interests of the high school classes, then created workshops on identity awareness. They used tools such as reading vignettes from Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street, analysis of Chimamanda Adichie’s (2009) Ted Talk “The Danger of a Single Story,” reflexive writing exercises, and small group discussions to promote critical listening to different experiences, increased awareness of identity, and deeper understanding of life events.
Joe Pucci ’18, who minored in education studies and will continue his own educational inquiry as a Bristol Fellow this fall, partnered with Stephanie Fabri ’19, Kathryn Hacker ’20, Edgar Otero ’20, Syon Powell ’19 and RFA students. He said, “The community partnership was important to all involved. In class, we critically analyzed social justice issues in our schools and explored potential solutions. The partnership provided an opportunity to test those ideas and grasp student responses, ultimately fostering more confident and informed change makers.”
This fall, Sindy Liu ’18 will teach at Classical Charter Schools in the South Bronx. She partnered with Katie McMorrow ’20, Colin O’Dowd ’19, Erin Schwartz ’20 and VVS students. She said, “Working with VVS students allowed me to apply theory to the real world. When we’re at Hamilton, it’s easy for us to speculate about how to improve education. But until we actually get into the classroom, it’s hard for us to know what works and what doesn’t.”
VVS students said that the partnership left them feeling like they now have “more to contribute.” RFA teacher Scharf recalled one powerful activity where Hamilton students engaged RFA students with considering their three most life changing events. Scharf’s students felt the partnership allowed them to explore the significance of their life stories. She said “Many of them wrote about hardships they faced growing up — I doubt that would have happened if they hadn't been thinking about identities and experiences which shaped them as human beings.”