HIGH POINT, N.C., April 7, 2015 – Each week at the Community Writing Center, High Point University students and Kirkman Park Elementary School students come together for story time.
Located at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, the Community Writing Center is staffed and operated by HPU students and faculty who promote literacy and offer tutoring to children in reading and writing in a welcoming environment.
HPU first opened the Community Writing Center in fall 2013 and recently moved it to the church in the Washington Street district as part of a community partnership.
“We started this project so that we could learn and grow with our community. We love the power of stories and poems, and of making connections with each other,” says Charmaine Cadeau, assistant professor of English and co-director of the Community Writing Center.
The center is open Tuesday through Thursday and offers a program that uses creative writing and reading activities, followed by homework help for students. Participants illustrate stories they write, share their work with each other by reading it on stage, and play literacy games such as designing their own superhero while practicing fundamental writing skills. Next year, they will be offering several evening programs for parents that focus on resume building, how to talk about books with children and digital literacy.
“I think that these students are getting a more hands-on approach and are able to see the real world application of the material that we are studying,” says Cara Kozma, assistant professor of English and co-director of the Community Writing Center. “This is showing them that writing really has a purpose in the community and it can benefit the path that the children will be able to follow later on in life.”
The HPU students are part of an English service learning class at HPU. Service learning classes are used to help people in the community as well as give students real-world experience in their chosen field.
“It feels great knowing that I am helping these students for the future,” says Jill Bottari, HPU student. “They are so insightful, full of life and energy when you are working with them.”
“I strive to make Mt. Zion Baptist a community based church where people can come to anytime they want, rather than just church on Sunday mornings,” says Reverend Frank Thomas at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. “I have found that these children are grateful that they get a snack in the afternoon, that their homework is done – things that we sometimes take for granted. If we can help out these children in any way we can, we are happy to do that.”