Monday, May 11, 2015

Summer Immersive Experience: Bamberg, SC

Reagan Bachour, posed, with violin
Reagan Bachour
Cohort A
Moore Scholars
During the week of May 4-8, the members of Cohort A, Dr. Rogers, and I travelled to Bamberg, South Carolina for the first ever Moore Scholars summer immersion experience in the low country. This experience was like no other that I had had before. I had never even been to a town so rural , and it opened my eyes to how diverse the state of South Carolina is.

Working with the students at Bamberg-Ehrhardt High (BEH) School was incredible. I had never taught anything related to poetry before, and my fellow Cohort A teammates and I were a bit worried about teaching high schoolers since we are all Elementary Education majors or Special Education majors.  We were fortunate to have Kendrick Brown, a graduate of BEH and the Emerging Scholars Program, to work alongside us and assist us with our lesson plans and getting to know the students. Our theme for the week was "Finding Your Voice," and allowing the students to share their feelings and passions was amazing because the students opened up to us through their writing.  We didn't really expect to read about some of the truly personal topics that the students shared with us, especially in such a short period of time.  From learning about losing family members tragically to struggling with such issues as depression or bullying, the students opened up to us in ways that we really never expected.  I was overjoyed that the students trusted us to share their thoughts with us this way.

We were also really impressed by the community of Bamberg.  The people there made us a part of their family, and we were not expecting this either.  Right away, we were welcomed into the home of the pastors of the Trinity Methodist Church, and we stayed there at night.  We were able to use the fellowship hall there to make our lunches for school each day and have our meals in the evenings.   Meanwhile, the guidance counselors and teachers at the school worked to make sure we had dinners covered.  We quickly learned that you can't stay in Bamberg without having some of "Buzzy's" cooking!  ("Buzzy" is one of the best  caterers in Bamberg, you see!)  One morning, the principal got up very early to treat us to a pancake breakfast.  On top of all this, we were also able to see how amazingly gifted the culinary arts classes at BEH are.  We managed to time our visit during Teacher Appreciation Week, so treats provided by the gifted students enrolled in these culinary arts classes were offered to us as well during our time in the school because we were treated like members of the faculty.

One of the best parts of our week was working with the amazing teachers who allowed us into their classrooms.  It was a pleasure to see what it means to see good teachers in action in these classrooms.  It was also a powerful experience to know that they were willing to give us time to try our hands at teaching their students.  Most education majors don't get to attempt this type of thing until much later in their academic careers.  We are so grateful for the opportunity to apply the theories we are learning so early because we know it helps us develop into stronger teachers.

The culminating project of the week was the Open Mic Night Poetry Slam on Thursday night. This gave the students the opportunity to share their voices and their hard work from the week. It was incredible to see parents' faces light up as students shared their poetry in front of a full audience. This event demonstrated that all students have a voice to be heard and are capable of working diligently and fervently.  Looking out at the parents, seeing tears of pride well up in their eyes - this was such a powerful and transformative experience for us all!

Once we were home, we received thank you letters from our students, letting us know they would like us to return next year.  (And, of course, we would like to do so!)  In their letters, they told us:

  • "Y'all brought me out of my shell... this poetry made me believe in anything I can do."
  • "You're a good person... I hope to see you again."
  • "This past week that y'all were here with us, I've never felt so special because I've never been so proud of myself like this."
  • "I didn't really like poetry or think I could write a poem, but you helped me think positive and pushed me to realize I could."
  • "I thank you for this experience because my voice was heard."
  • "You made me think real hard. I used to have trouble following a script, but this time it was about whatever I wanted and however I wanted it. I thank you for helping me want to write."
  • It meant a lot to me that with all the surrounding areas, you chose Bamberg. We may live in a small town, but we all have big personalities and even bigger hearts."
  • "All of you opened of a new world of poetry for me and presented me with a new gift, letting me know something I never knew I had. I think I might want to pursue poetry in college. I'm writing more poems and starting to get better at speaking now. My future seems bright."

Cohort A posing in parking lot
Right to Left: Rebekah Wales, Jacob Schlachte, Kendrick Brown, Jordanne Harpster, Reagan Bachour, Kayla Davis, Tamika Smith 

The week as a whole was a rewarding experience. It was a great opportunity to gain more experience as a future educator, but also it was incredible to be able to reach the students. They all have exemplary potential, but they simply need a few teachers and other authority figures who believe in them, and then, they will be unstoppable. We can't wait for the next opportunity that we will have in this program!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Flat Stanley Letters- West End Elementary Third Graders

Working with the third graders that came to Clemson University from West End Elementary was an incredible opportunity. It allowed me to practice becoming a teacher by explaining to these children how to write letters, checking for comprehension, and making the lesson exciting and relatable. 

These children were truly excited to be working with Flat Stanley. It was interesting because in the group that I was working with there was a girl who was mute. When asking the children to tell me their names and one place that Flat Stanley went during the play, the children proceeded to tell me that this girl did not talk. Her teacher told me her name. 

However, even though she did not talk, she listened attentively and actively participated in the lesson. However, after the lesson was over and I was talking with the children, she appeared to zone out. When asking her for her pen before the children left, I had to pat her arm several times for her to hear me. This was my first experience working with a child like this, but she succeeded in the lesson when treated like the typical child.

Additionally, I was happily surprised to hear many of the children say they wanted to attend Clemson University when they are older. It is amazing to see enthusiasm for higher education at such a young age. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Greenville Early College Visit- October 30, 2014

After the first successful Greenville Early College visit from the 6th graders, I was very excited for the arrival of the seventh and eighth graders. I worked mainly with the seventh graders and was very excited to meet my group. The day began with a tour of the campus. Me and another Moore Scholar, Kelsey, were in charge of eleven very eager seventh graders. We showed them around campus and had the kids fill out a quiz as they learned about specific buildings on campus. As we approached the amphitheater we had the kids go on stage and put on a little talent show. We had two girls sing "Lean on Me" and two boys show off their new handshake they had just made up. It was fun to see the kids open up as they showed off their special talents.

After the tour, we had the kids watch a presentation on the academic side of Clemson. They learned all about the different majors offered at Clemson and some students shared what they want to be when they grow up. I was happy to see these kids so energetic and passionate about their futures. The seventh graders also got to participate in a periodic table activity that we created for them. We heard from their teachers that they were learning about the periodic table in science, so we created a scavenger hunt for the kids where the different elements ended up answering fun halloween riddles. The kids enjoyed it immensely and were able to brush up on their periodic table skills!

Each time the students from Greenville Early College visit I am reminded how lucky I am to be a Moore Scholar. I love being able to inspire kids and show them how great college can be. I am thankful for being given an opportunity to work with such passionate and bright students.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Greenville Early College Visit- 2 October 30, 2014

Having the students from the Greenville Early College on campus was so exciting, as it always is. The day initially began with a campus tour. The group that I was participating in was solely composed of eighth graders. They did not appear as enthusiastic as the sixth graders during the field trip, but instead seemed more pensive and reflective. They appeared thoughtful and observant of Clemson's campus and what it would be like to be a college student. Additionally, all of the students in the group were extremely respectful. I thought that these were admirable qualities.

It was exciting while we were on the tour to start talking to the students about topics in which they were passionate. Many of the boys played football and seemed incredibly determined to be able to play football in high school. I hope that this dream of theirs comes true.

Later that day when the eighth graders were in the planetarium, I was fascinated with how much they knew about astronomy. When the planetarium show ended, several students asked questions about certain constellations that were not even in the show. It was an amazing experience for them to be able to see and understand the constellations that they had probably only read about in a science textbook.

This group of children has great potential to have amazing and bright futures. If they keep their goals and continue to be passionate about their education, they can and most likely will be incredibly successful. I cannot wait to see where these children's lives takes them!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Elementary School Visit

This past month, 6th graders came to visit Clemson University to tour and find out about the campus and college in general. These students, according to their school supervisors, have potential to go far into their education career. It was a great experience to work with these children, because not only did it give my fellow Moore Scholars and I experience in the education field  with children, but also gave us the opportunity to set the minds of these children on the right path to success.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

1st GEC Visit!

My first GEC visit was great! I was so excited all week about it and I think the kids were just as excited as I was. They were very engaging in the activities and asked a lot of questions. They loved seeing the dorm rooms and even the library! I think this is a great opportunity for them to see what they can do if they just believe in themselves and keep their grades up. Many of the 6th graders in my group stated that they had to do well in school now because they wanted to come to Clemson. I believe that this experience for them was great and possibly life changing! This was probably the first time some of them had ever been on a college campus in their entire lives. I believe that this type of encouragement will allow them to realize that college isn't too hard for them and that they can achieve it. The planetarium was also very fun! It allowed them to see some of the amazing technology that Clemson has. I loved this experience and I can't wait for the next one!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Early Greenville College

On September 25, 2014 the Moore Scholars hosted an event in which students from Early Greenville College were able to come and tour Clemson to see what it was like to attend a university. As I waited for the buses to arrive I was very excited to show off my school and to teach these kids what it is like to be a college student. As 6th graders, these students still have a while to go before they think about attending college, but as we showed them around campus you could see the interest and excitement in their eyes. They thought our small dorm rooms were the coolest places to hang out and they loved seeing different parts of campus and learning about Clemson's history. Their excitement was contagious and I couldn't help but become excited with them as I started to see my campus through their eyes and appreciate how much I have here at Clemson. As the students left I was happy to know that I was able to make a difference in their lives, if for only a few hours. I truly felt like an "agent of change" because I was able to show students how great college is and motivate them to work hard in school so that one day they could experience college like I have been able to. Unfortunately I was not able to participate all day in the event due to a review session, however, the time I did spend with the kids was unforgettable and a great experience. I am proud to call myself a tiger and proud that I am part of an organization that allows me to help influence others in a positive way.