Storytelling school

University of Mississippi education majors captivate local students with storytelling


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

University of Mississippi senior Jessica Crocker talks to students after reading at Lafayette Upper Elementary School in Oxford. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services
University of Mississippi senior Jessica Crocker reads “Pass It On” to fourth-grade students at Lafayette Upper Elementary School as part of Service Week activities. This year’s event was linked to the 60th anniversary of the integration of the university by James Meredith. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

University of Mississippi Annual Banking and Finance Symposium scheduled for October 14, 2022

James Meredith Scholarship established on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the integration of UM

Key words: Abrielle Martinez, Anna Bailey, Brook Hodge, Cade Smith, Camryn Long, Carly Smith, Caroline Cross, Castel Sweet, Earnest McEwen Jr., Gloria J. McEwen, Jessica Crocker, Jonathan Daniels, Kathleen Tune, Lafayette Upper Elementary School, McEwen Burgess , Mississippi, Ole Miss, Oxford, Pass It On!, Two Sylvias Press, UM Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, University of Mississippi

About the Author

University of Mississippi The University of Mississippi, affectionately known as Ole Miss, is Mississippi’s flagship university. A member of the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity according to the Carnegie classification, Ole Miss has a long history of producing leaders in public service, business, academia and the professions. Its 16 academic divisions include a major medical school; nationally recognized accounting, law and pharmacy schools; and an honors college recognized for its blend of academic rigor, experiential learning, and opportunities for community action. Acclaimed as one of the finest in the country, Ole Miss’s main campus is in Oxford, which is consistently recognized as one of the best university towns in the country.