Published on October 5, 2022 |
by the University of Mississippi
Students read to fourth graders for Week of Service, 60th Anniversary of Integration Celebration
Fourth year students at Lafayette Upper Elementary School listened carefully on Tuesday, September 27, 2022 as Jessica Crocker read a picture book about a janitor who became a college graduate.
The University of Mississippi read from Pass it on! (Two Sylvia Press2017) by Gloria J. McEwen Burgess as part of a Duty week activity to celebrate the 60th anniversary of James Meredithenrollment and college desegregation. McEwen Burgess’ book is the true story of her father, Earnest McEwen Jr.and her life-changing relationship with nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Faulkner.
As Crocker turned the pages, the students latched onto every word she read and responded enthusiastically when asked questions about what they heard.
“What is happening in this photo? asked Crocker, an education student.
Dozens of students raised their hands to be acknowledged and allowed to respond.
“Ernie liked to read books,” said Carly Smithof Oxford. “He wanted to know more about the world outside of Oxford.”
“It’s true,” Crocker said. “Good work!”
Crocker first heard about Meredith and what he did as a freshman when he took her EDHE 105: First Year Experience Classes.
“I hadn’t thought much of him since then, but my interest was rekindled when I learned of this opportunity,” said the Olive branch said the native. “I wanted to help these kids discover something about integration at an earlier age than me.”
The fourth graders sat completely still as Crocker read the book to the class in the school library. After the reading was finished, classes were allowed to bring a copy of the book back to their main class.
“It was really interesting”, fourth year student Jonathan Daniels said. “I’m glad I got to hear Mr. Ernie’s story.”
The literacy project was developed by the staff of the UM Diversity and Community Engagement Division in partnership with school of education professors and teachers and local administrators.
“The Week of Service Reading Project was created to increase local elementary students’ understanding of the significance and legacy of James Meredith to our local community, higher education, Mississippi, and the nation,” said declared Sweet Castlethe division’s director of community engagement.
Seven UM students are required to read to elementary school students each weekday afternoon. Other readers are Anna Baileyof Southaven; Caroline Crossof jackson; Brook Hodgeof water valley; Camryn Longof Brentwood, Tennessee; abrielle martinezof Southampton, New Jersey; and Kathleen Tune, of Chester, New Jersey.
Author McEwen Burgess and Cade SmithDeputy Vice Chancellor for Community Engagement, also need to read.
By Edwin B. Smith