Finding ways to positively impact the community is an ongoing tradition at Converse, and this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service brought faculty, staff and students together with others across Spartanburg in a united effort to serve. Converse’s soccer team worked with senior volunteers at the United Way to write thank-you cards for our troops, while students and staff from our Student Development and Success division joined volunteers at The Hope Center for Children to express their gratitude for local foster parents. Right here on campus, Converse Nisbet Honors students welcomed students from Mary H. Wright Elementary for a campus tour. It was the first time many of these children have visited a college campus, and the initiative grew out of a January Term partnership with the school.
“I got the opportunity to work one-on-one with a fifth grader who was a high achiever and gifted reader, which was a really fun experience.”
Located in Spartanburg School District 7, Mary H. Wright (MHW) Elementary is a Title 1 school that educates a nearly 90% African American student body. Every student receives free breakfast every morning, free or reduced lunch, and free dinner if they participate in Boys and Girls Club after school.
The partnership between the schools was led by Converse professors Dr. Kelly Harrison-Maguire and Dr. Laura Feitzinger Brown for their team-taught honors course, Literacy, Life & C.S. Lewis. It enabled Converse students to share a classic children’s novel with the top readers from MHW. Each elementary student worked with a Converse student mentor twice weekly to read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe from The Chronicles of Narnia.
Projects like this support Converse’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), Converse across Boundaries: Learning through Diverse Experiences, which calls for experiences that deepen students’ understanding of and appreciation for diverse perspectives and cultures in our world.
As Nisbet Honors students prepared to work with children of differing socioeconomic backgrounds from their own, they participated in poverty simulations conducted by Drs. Brown and Harrison-Maguire.
Sophomore Jada Tower ’19 said, “The experience I have gotten from this class, and our work with some of the students at Mary H. Wright Elementary School over the last few weeks has been very rewarding. As an education major, it’s always a little nerve-wracking and exciting to go out into the schools and start actually working with students. I got the opportunity to work one-on-one with a fifth grader who was a high achiever and gifted reader, which was a really fun experience. Dr. Brown and Dr. Harrison-Maguire did a great job putting this class together, and giving us all this great opportunity!”