Independent Minds, Working Together

Campus Visit Encourages Young Students to Focus on the Future

Exposure to college experience intended to nurture passion for learning

08 May, 2014 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — Close to 90 students toured The College of Wooster's campus last Friday with pre-planned stops at the Art Museum, Lowry Center, Wishart Hall, and APEX (Advising, Planning, and Experiential Learning) — but this was not your typical college visit.

The guests were third graders from Wooster's four elementary schools, and they were invited to campus in an effort to inspire them to start thinking about their future. They were also there to celebrate the culmination of their participation in "Connect, Write, Share," a yearlong literacy intervention project designed to help students who are behind in their reading and comprehension skills.

The program was made possible by a $200,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Education, according to Megan Wereley, associate professor of education at Wooster. "The third graders were tutored by our students at the College four days a week beginning last fall," she said. "The objective was to provide extra support for those identified as at-risk for not meeting the requirements of the 'Third-Grade Guarantee' (a statewide initiative to ensure that students are on track for reading success by the end of third grade)."

Several College of Wooster students facilitated the project in the Wooster City Schools as part of a partnership involving the College, Wooster City Schools, and the Wayne County Library. "It was a great opportunity; one that I really enjoyed," said Eve Boonin, a senior communication sciences and disorders major (with a minor in education) from Ann Arbor, Mich., and one of the coordinators of the program. "Our goal was to help the third graders develop a passion for reading and learning."

And it appears to have paid dividends, according to Boonin. "We have seen positive results in their reading, writing, comprehension, and fluency," she said. "Most importantly they really seemed to enjoy the learning experience."

Boonin also noted the benefits she reaped from the program. "I had a chance to prepare lesson plans and teach four days a week at two of the city's elementary schools," she said. "This will definitely help me when I do my student-teaching this fall."

At the end of the two-hour tour, students were treated to a serenade by one of Wooster's bagpipers so that when they plan their next college visit — some 8-10 years down the road — they will be sure to remember The College of Wooster.