- March 12, 2012
“Out of the millions of people on Earth, Berea College was made for me,” student teacher James “Herbie” Brock says. “I wouldn’t have had a shot at being successful without Berea and opportunities I’ve had here.”
Herbie was raised in Letcher County, KY by his mother Bonnie Hatton. “I am so proud of my mother,” he says. ”She has worked so hard to help me build a better life. She taught me to value hard work and education. You know, in the time and place where she grew up, education wasn’t always a priority for her and her siblings. So she made sure to make it a priority for me.”
Herbie says having Bonnie as his mother is just one way he has been lucky in his life. “Looking back, it’s amazing to me that I’ve always had positive, caring people in my life who went out of their way to help me when I needed it—people who were not family members but supported me, had confidence in me and helped me find confidence in myself. Often these people were teachers.” Herbie couldn’t start college right after high school; he had to work. When he met Vickie, now his wife, he thought about the lessons his mother taught him and decided to go back to school. He started at Hazard Community College. It was there he met another in the series of people who believed in him. That person was Berea alum and chair of the humanities department Ron Reed. “Ron told me about Berea and helped me find my way here. He was the one person who truly opened the door to Berea for me. And he’s coming to my graduation in December,” Herbie says warmly.
As for his plans after graduation, Herbie will first move with Vickie to Charleston, SC where she will have her turn at higher education. “Vickie has worked hard to get me through Berea. She has paid 100% of our financial support by working 50 hours a week or more. Once I’m finished, it will be her turn,” he says. (Vickie, a lifelong animal lover, plans to become a veterinary technician.)
“As soon as we finish in South Carolina, we want to go home, back to Letcher County. I love teaching, but more than anything for me, I want to be a mentor and role model to other kids like me, especially to young men who don’t have strong male figures in their lives. I want to be able to do for other kids what all those people did for me.”
Herbie will be a gifted teacher. But we here in Knapp Hall predict he will give even greater gifts to the children he mentors and supports in Letcher County. And we bet that in years to come, we will see Herbie watching proudly from the sidelines as students he has mentored graduate from Berea.
- March 12, 2012
Last summer fifth-year senior Molly McGill found herself in the most unusual places learning the most unexpected things—especially for a young woman who had never been west of Louisville, KY. During a six-week internship in Montana, Nebraska, and South Dakota, Molly stood in awe atop Snake Butte on Fort Belknap Reservation, and dug roots near age-old tipi rings near Poplar, MT. She photographed buffalo in Yellowstone National Park, drank sacred water from a spring on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, and interviewed an 84 year old Lakota woman who had never told anyone the stories of her youth but wanted to tell them to Molly.
For most of last school year, Molly worked a few hours a week as a paid materials development intern for Full Circle Curriculum and Materials, a Montana-based nonprofit organization. During that time, she learned about Montana’s Indian Education for All Act which requires the state’s public school students to learn about the history and culture of the nations that make their tribal homes in the state. With fellow interns and education majors Tania Staley and Erica Tindell, Molly also learned a great deal about Native American history and culture and about how to develop teaching materials designed to help school children learn more.
“When the opportunity to go to Montana was presented to me, I jumped at the chance. But at the same time, I was really nervous,” she said. “I’d never been that far from home and six weeks seemed like a very long time. Thankfully, though, I overcame my anxiety and headed west.”
Each day was a new and exciting adventure for Molly. “We traveled to five of the seven Montana reservations and to one in South Dakota. We interviewed elders and worked with tribal members to develop culturally appropriate materials to support teachers’ implementation of Indian Education for All. We went to powwows and on tours led by tribal members. We visited the Indian Welcome Center at the hospital in Great Falls, the Nez Perce battle site near Chinook, and attended a Call Back ceremony in Lame Deer. I saw sights I couldn’t have imagined.”
Molly recalled another highlight of her trip. Sitting under one of the few shade trees to be found on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, she interviewed an internationally known spiritual leader of the Lakota People. “I was so nervous that I thought I’d be sick,” she said. “I knew I should give him tobacco, as is the Lakota tradition when asking an elder for information; but I had no idea what to say or when to say it. I think he could see my hands shaking because he seemed especially gracious. The interview was amazing. I was really honored when he asked that we turn off the video camera so he could sing some sacred Ghost Dance songs.”
Using what she learned, Molly developed materials currently used in Montana classrooms, wrote journal and newsletter articles, and worked with other research assistants to develop a popular board game called Montana Roadtrip. Her “excellent adventure” was made possible through funding from Roger Sell and from Full Circle.
Summing up the impact of her experiences Molly said, “This trip was one of the best things I have ever done in my life. I found myself in situations in which I was uncomfortable, afraid that I would say or do something culturally inappropriate. I was awed by a land I had never seen and welcomed by people I had never met who were of a different culture than mine. I learned many things about Montana, Native American history, and most of all myself. I will always be grateful for this experience and will never forget the people I was lucky enough to meet. The things I learned and am learning will find their way into my classroom; my students will benefit in many, many ways.”
Learn more about Full Circle at www.fullcirclecm.org. Read Molly’s Full Circle articles, view clips of her interviews, and see a photo album of her summer out west on the Education Studies website at www.berea.edu/eds.
- March 12, 2012
James C. Bowman was a man of vision and determination. For many years, he journeyed along creek beds and over mountain tops into the narrow hollows of Appalachian Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee to bring students to Berea. Along the way from their homes in the mountains, Bowman arranged a stop for what was for most their first moving picture show. Today, his family honors James Bowman’s memory and legacy by providing the annual cultural trip for education students.
On Saturday, April 12 fourteen student teachers, their friends, education faculty, and members of the Bowman family gathered in Knapp Hall to celebrate this year’s trip—four days in New York City. Student displays provided a look at their remarkable New York experiences. Whether it was attending Broadway plays, romping in Central Park, visiting art museums, Ellis Island, Times Square, or simply riding the subways, the students reported on rich learning experiences and excitedly talked about how this trip has deepened their understandings and broadened their visions for teaching and learning.