Look out, Harry Potter. The debut of a recent book in the fifth-grade classroom of Terry Test ’73 in Penn Yan Elementary School could be poised to rival old standbys on the summer reading list. At least if Test’s students have anything to say about it.
Each of Test’s students received a copy of the book, “Who is Penn Yan?” Wednesday, hand-delivered by Dr. Jennie Joiner, assistant professor of English at Keuka College. Late last fall, the 17 students in Joiner’s “Literature in the Wider World” course paired up with 17 fifth-graders Test and teaching partner Rebecca Morse selected from their shared class. For three weeks, College “authors” met one-on-one with schoolchildren to craft a personal story from the child’s perspective. Each three-page story – part of the final project in Joiner’s class – was bound into the special edition keepsake for all participants. Based on the buzz around the classroom, it was quite a hit.
Most students started by flipping through the book searching for a photo of themselves with their “author.” Or they scanned the story titles until they found the one with their name, or more specifically, the name of the character they had chosen for themselves for the story project. Then it was on with the read, until –
“Did you see mine? I still have to read yours!” exclaimed “Miranda,” jumping up from her desk and crossing the room to her friend “Charlotte,” just to point out a particular page. Similar excitement bubbled up around the room as other students eagerly pored over pages, flipping and pointing their own finds to classmates seated nearby.
“It’s fun to watch them all reading so intently,” Joiner said, pausing at the desks of several girls to ask if they’d seen page 45 yet, where a stuffed monkey belonging to “Maddie” made it into the photos.
“The story is really good – he did a really good job,” “Mikie” said of his author, junior Devon Locher, who crafted his tale of an aspiring college scientist-baseball player. “I think I want to read it a million times.”
At another desk, “Allison” was raving over the zombie story written for her by freshman Sabrina Androvett, pointing out their photo together and praising Androvett’s “very graphic descriptions.”
“She even made it kind of funny, like putting in a detail about one of my dogs chewing on the corpse’s bones,” said Allison, alluding to the other-worldly aspects of the story.
Indeed, among the advice Test’s students gave Joiner for how to approach the project next fall with a new crop of college and elementary students was “use your imagination.”
According to Test, the College authors did great work capturing what each fifth-grader tried to describe and using that to guide the plot each child tried to present in his or her story.
“In reading these, I can hear the fifth-grade voice and I can also feel the Keuka author’s interpretation,” said Test. “It was valuable for the fifth-graders to see how stories are the outcome of ideas.”
By crafting a story through collaboration, the project enabled each college student to learn more about Penn Yan through the eyes or imagination of each child. But beyond that, it served to highlight how literature is the doorway to community, culture, society and more – part of the overall goals for the introductory English course itself.
Peppered with story titles including “Butch’s Greatest Adventure,” “The Amazing Annabeth,” and “Miranda Saves the Day,” the book of personal stories seems poised to be saved and cherished by each of its starring characters. Hunched over his desk, poring through the pages of the story Devon Errigo wrote about him, “Rico” had big plans to share the book with his family at home.
“I’m gonna tell my parents that a kid from Keuka College made it and he gave me details and I gave him details and we put a story together,” Rico said.
Seated nearby, “Miranda” had similar enthusiasm and praise for the story written by her author, Tiffany Scott.
“I love this!” she gushed. “I love the details she put into it, and that it’s exactly the same way I wanted it to be.”
Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka College degree take you? This is the sixth in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2014.
Nakita Simons ’14 of Prattsburgh began a new job May 27 as a foster care caseworker for Steuben County Department of Social Services (DSS). The Prattsburgh resident first truly explored the social work field when she conducted her sophomore Field Period™ with DSS and had “a great experience,” Simons said.
The work went so well Simons applied for a high-profile BSW Child Welfare Scholarship from New York’s Social Work Education Consortium in her junior year. Winners of the scholarship are essentially guaranteed a two-year job as a child welfare caseworker with a county DSS agency and can also earn additional scholarship money for a master’s degree in social work, provided all goes well in a semester-long practicum during their senior year. Thanks to her 3.9 GPA and her record of stellar service in multiple volunteer and leadership roles outside the classroom, Simons not only landed the scholarship and job with Steuben County DSS but was named one of six student Social Workers of the Year for the Genesee Valley Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). She will be pursuing her MSW online through a program offered by Fordham University.
Simons said she found the College social work program faculty “really helped me to get the most out of my education. They were supportive and encouraging. They got to know you on a personal level and helped me to discover my passion and reach the goals I set for myself.”
Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka College degree take you? This is the fifth in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2014.
As a busy member of the campus community, Mike Kelly ’14 of Black River, N.Y. gained plenty of experience in leadership, service and special events.
During his four years at Keuka College, Kelly served as president of the College chapter of Enactus, the international non-profit which empowers students to coordinate entrepreneurial projects to improve the lives of people in need. He worked as an advertising assistant in the office of student activities, and chaired the fundraising committee for the annual Relay for Life event for the American Cancer Society during sophomore and junior years. His senior practicum was spent assisting with communications and social media for the 17th annual Celebrate Service … Celebrate Yates (CSCY) day of service event, which is a collaboration between the College and the Yates County Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Kelly served three years as a resident assistant to other students living in two residence halls.
The organizational communication major was recently accepted to Lasell College in Boston where he intends to pursue a master’s degree in communication with a concentration in integrated marketing communication. Kelly said he is looking for jobs in that area, too, so he can work while attending grad school.
Looking back, Kelly said he sees the biggest benefit of his Keuka College education is “that I am incredibly prepared for the ‘real world.’”
Kelly said he owes Dr. Anita Chirco, professor of communication, many thanks for the one-on-one time in she gave in senior seminar class to work with each student to prepare portfolios, resumes and LinkedIn profiles.
“Not only am I confident that the things I’ve learned in my communication classes will help me professionally, they have given me personal confidence, something you cannot put a price on,” he said.
Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka College degree take you? This is the fourth in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2014.
Dung Hoang came to Keuka College from a partner school in Hanoi, Vietnam to pursue a degree in management with a minor in accounting. After graduation May 25, she moved to Anaheim, Calif. where she is now working as an accounting assistant for Business Expo Center, an events company.
Hoang’s student visa permits her a limited time after graduation to work in an off-campus job related to her field of study.
“Honestly, I feel that I am so lucky to get this job,” she said, adding her excitement at the chance to apply what she learned from her classes and gain even more experience in accounting.
Her duties include processing and reconciling payments and other business transactions using a system based on the QuickBooks software, a popular accounting tool she’d never heard of until introduced to it in her Keuka College classes. Hoang conducted a Field Period™ with the California company over winter break and credits the real-world internship experience there for leading to her job offer.
“I love the way Keuka College requires us to take the Field Period™ every year, because we can apply what we learned from college in a real working environment, we support our future career,” she said, adding her thanks to her academic adviser, professors, Field Period™ supervisor and many friends who helped “lead me to the right way for my future.”
“I am so thankful for what I have today,” Hoang said. “I love the education here and I grew up a lot from this environment.”
Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka College degree take you? This is the third in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2014.
Kyle McVannan ‘14 of Endicott graduated with a B.A. in organizational communication and has begun a new job working in the video production department of the Binghamton Mets, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
In between McVannan’s junior and senior years, he conducted a Field Period™ in the Mets’ video department, which paved the way for his job offer upon graduation. A Field Period™ is a self-initiated placement of at least 140 hours that each Keuka College undergraduate completes each year. It can be an internship like McVannan’s, a cultural exploration, community service or creative project or a spiritual/faith-based exploration.
During his time at Keuka College, McVannan pitched for the baseball team and played some at third base while also serving as one of four team captains. In his senior year, the team made a significant turn-around under a new coach, winning the most games in a season in school history while earning a share of the North Eastern Athletic Conference’s (NEAC) regular season title. He also completed a senior practicum within his major, working with the College’s digital media producer on a variety of video-related marketing projects.
McVannan has been excited to carry his love of the game over into a job opportunity involving his favorite sport. His Field Period™ experience was “awesome,” he said, because it put him in “a real-world position” to explore career opportunities.
“The best thing about my Keuka College education is that I was able to branch out and have Field Periods™ that really helped me in my decision on what I wanted to do with my life,” McVannan said.