Special to The Leaven
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — In the spirit of learning through service, 19 Donnelly College freshmen recently spent the morning reading short stories and original poetry to young students at Resurrection Catholic School at the Cathedral here.
Reading to elementary students is an annual service learning project for the college’s preparatory education classes.
“Reading gives our students an opportunity to show them they can do something that they thought they couldn’t do,” said Donnelly assistant professor Gretchen Meinhardt.
Many of the original works were inspired by the students’ passions.
Donnelly student Thomas Xiong, who has been dancing for five years, wrote a poem about the emotions of dancing on stage. To his surprise, the classroom of second-graders clamored to perform for him when he was done.
“They danced for me! Even the teacher danced!” he said.
Others offered encouragement to the younger students.
“I told them to work hard. . . . When you have homework, do it. Then you’ll get somewhere far in life,” said Donnelly student Mariela Celaya.
At the end of the reading session, students from the college left with new appreciation of what it means to be a role model.
“It gave me more motivation to speak to kids or speak to the community,” said Celaya.
Lisa Stoothoff, director of preparatory education, looks forward to planning more read-ins with both public and archdiocesan schools.
“I am so proud of them,” she said. “It takes a lot to share your own work.”