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Summer 2009
Special Edition Vol. 1 of 5



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Behind the desk: faculty interviews with professors who taught for the Hoverter Course

Helen Walker

Helen Walker, associate professor of writing

Hoverter course sections taught:

writing and creative arts

What class(es) do you teach in the Hoverter Course?

I taught writing in September with Jean Corey (we split class in half because it was extra big). Dividing the class was a good idea because we were able to give them a good beginning—more attention. They were very insecure about their abilities at first but worked hard and were thrilled when they got positive feedback. They were very motivated. I also taught the last section of creative arts in February and March.  

The Hoverter course covers writing, communication, critical/ethical thinking, creative arts, and history/civics. Can you describe a little bit about what you do in the classes you teach?

For the creative arts section, I wanted to introduce them to the arts scene in Harrisburg and then give them hands-on experiences with their own creativity—their own abilities to "do art." They saw a play at Open Stage and a dance concert (PureMovement) in the Rose Lehman Arts Center at Harrisburg Area Community College. We had guest artists from Harrisburg and the area: Rev. Charles Baxter, a choral director; Nataki Bhati, a visual artist; and Louise Morgan, a theatre director. They worked with clay and watercolor; learned a song in 4-part harmony; performed a readers' theatre piece that they wrote the monologues for. They also learned a poem by heart and did a choral reading of it. We also looked at art history, and they did reports on their favorite artists.

Why, in your opinion, is the Hoverter Course important?

It is important because the students were empowered. Their final speeches at graduation made us all inspired and so glad that the Hoverter Foundation gave this funding. The students (from 30 to 70 years old) were so motivated to get back into learning. They were so appreciative and hardworking. It was certainly a delight to work with them. They were not into "playing a game of being a good student."  They didn't know the "code." They mostly came from the heart instead of the head, but they were so open. I was blown away by the results of what they ended up doing.  

What have you learned through being a part of this program? Any favorite memories from the past year? 

Seeing them (the students) get so carried away with what they were doing and so excited that they had no sense that this was "a class." It was more like a party. I laughed and laughed in delight at their complete immersion in their exercises of creative brainstorming.

Kate Quimby

Kathleen Quimby, senior lecturer in the School of Humanities

Hoverter course section taught: communication

The Hoverter course covers writing, communication, critical/ethical thinking, creative arts, and history/civics. Can you describe a little bit about what you do in the classes you teach?

My focus was on nonverbal communication, listening, and culture and gender differences.

Why, in your opinion, is the Hoverter Course important?

It’s important to level the playing field in whatever ways possible.  Many are not fortunate enough to have the resources or encouragement or confidence to make college a reality. Through this course, we open doors that until this point have been closed to this group of people. The students are exposed to ideas in the humanities that are important for all citizens to understand. Through this immersion into the world of ideas, the class discovers that they are capable of doing college level work.

What have you learned through being a part of this program? Any favorite memories from the past year?

I remember the interest the group showed in the subject matter, seeing them make the connections between the text and their own lives.

 

 

 

 

 

Nance McCown

Nance McCown, assistant professor of communication

Hoverter course section taught: communication

The Hoverter course covers writing, communication, critical/ethical thinking, creative arts, and history/civics. Can you describe a little bit about what you do in the classes you teach?

In my section of the unit, we focused on public communication. We spent two class periods discussing (in brief) how to brainstorm, narrow a topic, research, organize main points and transitions, develop visual aids, and effectively deliver a speech. In the third class period a couple weeks later, each student presented a 5-minute informative speech.

Why, in your opinion, is the Hoverter Course important?

The Hoverter Course offers (mostly) nontraditional age students from less advantaged walks of life the opportunity to “test the waters” of taking a college course. For some, it builds the confidence to actually follow through and pursue a college degree, which would otherwise seem very daunting.

What have you learned through being a part of this program? Any favorite memories from the past year?

I enjoyed the students immensely. Many of them have always wanted to attend college, but for various reasons – inadequate finances, little encouragement or support from friends or family, or simply fear or little confidence – they have not had the opportunity. For quite a few, my unit on public communication was the first time they presented a speech. Watching them grow as individuals in their communication skills and watching them truly support and encourage one another as they worked together to brainstorm, offer feedback, and overcome nervousness was a joy.

 

David Schenk

David Schenk, assistant professor of philosophy

Hoverter course section taught: a section on introductory ethics

called “Justice, Authority, and the Good Life”

 

The Hoverter course covers writing, communication, critical/ethical thinking, creative arts, and history/civics. Can you describe a little bit about what you do in the classes you teach?

Well, since my section is straight philosophy, it’s just a bunch of reading, lecture, conversation about the readings, and then a paper at the end of the section.

Why, in your opinion, is the Hoverter Course important?

Above all else, the great good of this course is that it inspires and encourages nontraditional students to continue learning at the college level and perhaps even eventually to gain a college degree.

What have you learned through being a part of this program? Any favorite memories from the past year?

This last year was especially good. There were more than a dozen students regularly attending classes at the Harrisburg Institute and they were extremely motivated, mature, and intellectually involved. Most of all, the camaraderie and mutual support among the 2008-2009 students really impressed me.

 

 

 

 

Jean Corey

Jean Corey, assistant professor of English

Hoverter course section taught: writing

The Hoverter course covers writing, communication, critical/ethical thinking, creative arts, and history/civics. Can you describe a little bit about what you do in the classes you teach?

During the Writing Matters portion of the course, we write for and during nearly every class session in myriad ways. Students write short personal pieces; longer, more carefully-woven texts; thick observation and thoughtful persuasion—letters, manifestos, memoirs, arguments, and testimonies; and analytical and reflective essays that reflect on our histories as readers and writers.

Why, in your opinion, is the Hoverter Course important?

Peter Elbow claims that, “Everyone can write with power and eloquence, given an urgent occasion and permission to do so." After teaching the Hoverter course two years in a row, I am convinced that Elbow knows what he’s talking about. The Hoverter course participants bring with them rich, lived experiences, wonderful curiosity, and a strong desire to engage in meaningful and generative conversation in just about anything —  the kind of conditions that make for plenty of “urgent occasions” to write.  

What have you learned through being a part of this program? Any favorite memories from the past year?

Each class, I walked out overwhelmed with a sense of deep gratitude for the privilege of getting to write, think, and learn with a community of learners who understand the real value of learning and discovering from one another.   

  
It’s been especially fun to hear from students after they’ve finished the course. One student from last year’s course had her story about being her child with Down syndrome published in a collection of essays and another just e-mailed me to tell me a piece she wrote in class is also going to be published. One of the women from this year’s class wrote an advocacy piece on sexual predators for class. At graduation, she announced that she has already enrolled at Harrisburg Area Community College. She plans to continue her education so she can continue her advocacy as a professional.  

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