CONWAY, Ark. (September 21, 2012) - Sheryl Burt '13 and Kelly Rappé '13 are getting set to share the results of their summer Odyssey experience with K-12 teachers at a literacy conference this fall in Little Rock.
The two senior early childhood education majors spent two weeks this summer observing two diverse elementary schools in Rotoura, New Zealand, including one for Maori children. Both schools use "balanced literacy," a method to teach reading and writing that addresses students with different learning styles. New Zealand is noted as a world leader in successful literacy instruction.
"The literacy rate in New Zealand is a lot higher than other countries," said Rappé, who is from Fort Collins, Colo. "And it was kind of visible."
"The students were so engaged, and the classes were set up so well," agreed Burt, who is from Belton, Texas.
During their trip, Burt and Rappé stayed with a New Zealand host family, including Hendrix alumnus Kim "Kiwi' Stevenson '77 and his wife Sheila, who picked the students up after school and showed them the sites.
"We were like their children for two weeks," Burt said. "It was the most amazing thing possible."
In addition to observing literacy instruction, the Hendrix students were de facto subjects for the New Zealand students, who asked questions about life in America, American geography, President Obama … and snakes. They also discussed differences in language usage.
"We observed some great things culturally," said Rappé, who has previously studied in Ghana.
Burt and Rappé will present their findings this fall at a literacy conference for teachers in Little Rock.
Hendrix education professor Dr. Dionne Jackson '96 was their faculty advisor for the project.
Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the fifth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country's "Up and Coming" liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. Hendrix is featured in the 2012 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country's best 377 colleges, the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Feel about Colleges, Forbes magazine's annual list of America's Top 650 Colleges, and the 2013 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.