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Scholars in Schools Visits

Scholars in Schools Takes Sam Rayburn Students on an Academic Odyssey

The Iliad has long remained the definitive epic. With its tale of gods, heroes, and a 10-year war, it consistently captures the imaginations of students and scholars alike. This fall, educators will use Homer's poem to inspire area high school students and perhaps lead them on new academic odysseys. This fall, the University of Houston's Scholars in Schools program is bringing the Iliad to students at Sam Rayburn High School in Pasadena, Texas. Through this program, a dozen 10th graders will study the work and participate in seminars led by University of Houston professors and Sam Rayburn teachers.

This iteration of Scholars in Schools is the brainchild of Brian Johnston, who teaches English at Sam Rayburn, and his brother-in-law Rob Zaretsky, University of Houston professor of French history. "Many of Brian's students have never visited a college campus before, and many are unaware of life beyond their communities," Zaretsky said. "We want these students to know that we as educators take them seriously and that their horizons can extend into higher education if they select that path. UH is a very real possibility for them."

Students will visit the Honors College for the first seminar Sept. 10. Following that kickoff class, Zaretsky will head to Sam Rayburn High School every other week to teach alongside Johnston. The final Scholars in the Schools class for the year will return students to the Honors College for an end-of-semester event.

"The willingness of Robert Stock, Sam Rayburn principal, to devote the time and resources to this endeavor, is truly inspiring. After all, while the students will benefit from this book, it is the sort of benefit that standardized testing cannot measure," Zaretsky said.

Dean Monroe Brings College-level Discussion on Flannery O'Connor to Bellaire

On March 12, Bill Monroe, Dean of the Honors College, visited four different sections of AP English Literature and Composition at Bellaire High School. Because the students had been studying the work of Flannery O’Connor, Dr. Monroe led classes that focused on two of her stories. The author of numerous essays and articles on O’Connor’s fiction, Dr. Monroe brought college-level discussion to high school classrooms and offered his expertise and years of teaching experience to the students, challenging them to attend more closely both to the stories they read and the stories they tell themselves.

“Several students came by the assistant principal’s office to tell her of the ‘phenomenal’ class Dr. Monroe conducted,” says Camille Quaite, English teacher at Bellaire High School. “He made a great impact on them.”

Professor Kim Meyer Visits AP Classes at Incarnate Word Academy

On February 4, Kim Meyer led four different AP classes of Incarnate Word Academy. By presenting Ezra Pound’s manifesto “Imagism” alongside several of his poems, Dr. Meyer gave the students the unique opportunity to work with an outside expert who provided a fresh, independent perspective on English literature. Using a Socratic, conversational style in class, she encouraged the students to read carefully Pound’s often-difficult poetry, showing them how they themselves could find the answers to the puzzles and questions that the texts posed. 

“They became really engaged--empowered even,” Dr. Meyer says. “I could see them learning to read the poem as we went through it, so that by the end, they were fully in command.” In her enthusiasm and knowledge of her subject. Dr. Meyer provided the students with a live model of the moving and life-altering power of literature.

Lence Master Teacher James Shapiro Talks Shakespeare at St. John's School

When James Shapiro, Professor of English at Columbia University and the Honors College’s 2010 Ross M. Lence Master Teacher, visited St. John’s School on February 4, he engaged a group of over 120 seniors on their terms, not his own. The author of four books on Shakespeare, Dr. Shapiro encouraged the students to ask him “anything about Shakespeare that you wanted to know but have always been afraid to ask.” He received an impressive range of questions, including a memorable inquiry about why there were no dogs in Shakespeare’s plays! For the seniors of St. John’s School, Dr. Shapiro’s lively wit, engaging personality, and encyclopedic knowledge of all things Shakespeare brought the plays—and the worlds imagined by the students who read and watch them—to life.