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Mercyhurst education majors infuse ‘Literacy Alive’ in Carpe Diem Academy

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Members of the Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Society at Mercyhurst were honored with a Project Achievement Award from the national honor society for their Literacy Alive project, a program members will implement for the second consecutive year at Carpe Diem Academy on March 24-27.

The chapter of 56 members will promote literacy among at-risk children, grades kindergarten to second, through the progressive afterschool program. Literacy Alive, funded in part by a Mercyhurst University Diversity Grant, qualifies as a capstone project for the education majors involved.

“The whole mission of Carpe Diem Academy is early intervention,” said Kathleen Bukowski, Ph.D., Kappa Delta Pi adviser and dean of the Hafenmaier School of Education and Behavioral Sciences. “The idea of inspiring these children early to read and write gives them an extra opportunity to learn, grow and compete, which really fits with the mission of the university and the Literacy Alive project.”

During the three-day program, student-teachers will read Harold and the Purple Crayon, a book about cultivating imagination and creativity, while also integrating a writing lesson that will allow each class to collectively create a book that will be bound and gifted back to them. Each child will also take home a box of crayons and school supplies, as well as an award-winning children’s literature book, compliments of Hooked on Books for Kids in Erie, which donated more than 240 books.

In addition to promoting diversity, literacy and education among young children, education majors are gaining practical experience working with novice learners at the early childhood education level.

“For me, it’s not just about creating lesson plans, classroom management and interacting with the kids,” said education major Heather Mills. “It’s also about the situation that we are coming into — for example, the kids don’t know us — so we almost get a substitute teacher experience, which will help us in the future as a new teachers.”

For education major and honor society president Bethany Woll, classroom experience and working with the students, especially at Carpe Diem Academy, is very rewarding.

“I grew up in Erie; it’s a big difference when I compare the opportunities and resources I was given as a child, without a second thought, to what many of these kids just don’t have access to,” Woll said.

“To go in and offer a program like Literacy Alive and to see what you do really matters, means something to each of us,” she said. “It helps these children become well-rounded individuals, and if we give them a chance that they wouldn’t have otherwise — such as extra experience, extra support — maybe it will inspire them to make a difference someday on their own.”


PHOTO: Caylen Spano, 8; and her sister, Keira, 4; reading Harold and the Purple Crayon.