Many Converse College students didn’t take the summer off. Through a variety of programs, they continued the Converse mission of learning and service.
For 20 years, education students at Converse College have devoted their summer months to working with gifted children through the Athena program. According to Dr. Nancy Breard, Assistant Professor of Education, the Athena program, the only one of its kind in the state, is a clear “win-win” situation for all involved. “The children interact with other gifted children as they explore different topics; the Converse students gain the invaluable experience of working with gifted children: writing the curricula, developing a budget, and instructing gifted children,” said Dr. Breard. Nine Converse students took part in the two one-week sessions in July at the Spartanburg Day School. This year, the program drew over 200 gifted children from the Spartanburg area. “I’ve always known it takes passion and drive to be a great teacher, and to inspire others to learn,” said Converse II student Sandy Young. “The challenges of teaching gifted students include keeping them interested, motivated, and excited about learning. With gifted students, we need to take ideas and topics farther, using higher-level thinking and problem-solving skills and even delving into abstract thinking.” A different theme is chosen each year for the program. With reality television making such a big splash over the past few months, the theme for this year was “Survival,” as the participants studied what has survived throughout time.
For the second straight year, Converse College sponsored SummerServe, a program specifically designed for the entering freshman class. This year nearly 35 members of the Converse freshman class took part in the program. For three days, the students performed community service work throughout the county in organizations that included the Safe Home/Rape Crisis Center, the 2nd Presbyterian Church Soup Kitchen, Habitat for Humanity, and the Spartanburg Senior Center. In addition to their community service work, the students meet some of their fellow classmates for the first time, and learn how to work together by participating in teambuilding and leadership skill training workshops.
For 31 days, Rome was home to 21 Converse College students. From May 21-June 21, the students experienced many aspects of Italian culture as part of a study-travel program coordinated by Converse. Topics on the agenda while in Rome included: examining major domestic and international economic issues and their impact on women; exploring the relationships between gender, culture, and religion in Rome; service learning projects with religious women in Rome; and participation in site visits, concerts, and art exhibits.