KOKOMO, Ind. – Anyone walking into the F.D. Reese Christian Academy classroom might think the students were just walking around a table, but the young students would say they are “orbiting” the table.
That’s just one of the concepts they learned while studying about our solar system during the academy’s summer enrichment curriculum, developed and taught by Indiana University Kokomo students Jessica Roller and Bethann Duly.
Just two days after they learned about the planets in our solar system, each of the youngsters was able to name each of the orbs. In addition, students studied photos of planets and correctly identified them, for which the youth were awarded a ribbon and a candy bar.
“I didn’t want to be in the education field at all, but after starting this program, teaching here has given me an incredible feeling,” said Roller, a psychology major, with a smile. “For me, the best part is when the students don’t want to go home and want to stay with us. They’re such great kids. We’ve actually learned much more from them than they have from us!”
In 2006, Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church began working on establishing a Christian academy. Two years later, F.D. Reese Christian Academy opened its doors. Earlier this year, Academy Principal Patricia Anderson approached both Roller and Duly about developing the curriculum and teaching the summer enrichment program.
“I love coming here every day,” said Duly, an English major. “These kids are brilliant, well-behaved and so bright! “These students do such a good job and learn so fast. They’re fun to teach. When we first started this, I didn’t know how I would feel and if I could teach little kids, but this has been such a great experience.”
In addition to science, lessons focused on reading and writing, art, and music. The young students even worked to create their own I Spy books. Each of the students – ages 4 through 6 - were assigned to write original riddles and rhymes that would accompany photos Duly had taken of various objects and toys the youngsters compiled. At the end of the program, each student was given their own copies of the class project.
Cedric Anderson Sr., father of two of the students, is more than pleased with the IU Kokomo students’ program.
“We really hope both Jessica and Bethann will come back next summer to help,” said Anderson. “They’ve done such a great job with the kids and encourage them to do their best. I’ve been impressed with their ability to not only teach our kids, but to also make it a fun experience.”
Five-year-old Indiriah Faison’s favorite part of the summer program was art and participating in the school’s first art contest.
“I like painting the best,” said Faison while working on a rhyme for the I Spy book. “I like going to school and am glad Mom lets me. I like learning about puzzles too.”
Cathy Barnes, IU Kokomo academic advisor, introduced Roller and Duly to the academy and encouraged them to get involved.
“This summer program is transforming everyone,” Barnes said. “It’s transforming the students in that school, the staff in that school and most importantly, it’s transforming our students. They are better women because of the effort they placed in that program this summer.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.