On November 13, 2018, Hannah Baggott Anderson sat down for an interview with Deana Johnson and Sara Oswald of the English, Theatre, and Foreign Languages Department at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. The interview was featured on WNCP TV’s show, Campus to Community and can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3eJ2xof2Bc.
The focus of the discussion was an ongoing literacy program organized by Johnson, Oswald, and Amy Williams. For three years, these faculty members have been working on a Poetry Publication Partnership with R.B. Dean Elementary School in Robeson County. The project culminates with a literacy celebration at the school featuring a poetry booklet of the original works by the students.
The elementary students are invited to UNCP’s campus for an “I Have a Dream” Reading Party celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and famous speech. UNCP students from the composition sections of Johnson and Williams serve as writing mentors, assisting the elementary students in composing poems about their hopes and dreams for the future. Then, students from Oswald’s Computer-Assisted Editing and Publication Design class prepare the poems for publication.
The interview focused on the planning and publication process for this project. “Through this project, we have been focusing on building partnerships with our local public schools. We want to promote literacy and creativity as well as give the students a chance to see their work in print,” noted Johnson.
Johnson, Oswald, and Williams also organize projects like these to involve their UNCP students in meeting the needs of the local community.
“Sara, Amy, and I are very passionate about this project, so it was great to have the opportunity to feature it on Campus to Community. We hope that highlighting projects like these will inspire more faculty members to engage students in service-learning initiatives,” said Johnson.
Anderson, also of the ETFL Department, is the University Literacy Commons Faculty Fellow. She praised the project for its effect on both UNCP students and the larger community. “I think projects like this are incredibly necessary for teaching our composition students that literacy is a lifelong learning experience,” she noted.
“When we celebrate reading at all ages, we can encourage children in our community to develop a love for reading and remind college students that they can love it too, rather than seeing it as a burden.” She adds that Professor Johnson “fosters a love for writing through poetry for the elementary school students by having her students serve as reading group leaders and editors for imaginative writing. UNCP students can have an incredible impact on these local students, and [these] composition courses create that meaningful connection (while still meeting the course objectives of a Composition class).”