College_Kids1.jpgKENT KRIEGSHAUSER/The Register-Mail

Talya Squires, Brittany Galloway, Megan Sperry and Cierra Stanley, clockwise from lower left, work to complete their outline project in the Self-Esteem for Girls class, part of College4Kids at Knox College.

Revamped College4Kids returns

Program for gifted students back after year hiatus; 2 Knox professors at the helm

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Knox College this week unveiled a revamped College4Kids program after taking a hiatus last summer.

John Rosene, a former Knoxville High School teacher and football coach at Knox, headed up the program for more than 10 years, but retired in 2006. Without a director, there was no College4Kids last summer.

In order to get the program going again College4Kids has been integrated into the educational studies department. Two new professors, Assistant Professor of Educational Studies Jason Helfer and Visiting Assistant Professor of Educational Studies Stephen Schroth, have taken the program under their wings.

"Jason Helfer and Stephen Schroth have provided the leadership, energy and imagination to revitalize the program as its new co-directors," said Lawrence Breitborde, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college. "(They) have repositioned the program in a way that will ensure Knox's continuing contributions to the local community while involving and benefiting our own students."

Both Helfer and Schroth have extensive experience working with gifted students from diverse backgrounds and enrichment programs for students outside of public schools.

The duo said 2007's College4Kids is modeled after the program Knox has offered since 1975. The aim of College4Kids is to provide accelerating opportunities for gifted local students.

"We've crafted it on the model in place before," Schroth said. "The program integrates elements of the humanities, math, science and language."

This year, 12 Knox professors and nine local teachers are instructing 166 students in 36 different courses. College4Kids classes are from 8:30 a.m. to noon each weekday, June 11 to 22.

This year Knox educational studies majors are also getting the opportunity to participate by working with course instructors and providing classroom help as part of a College4Kids fellowship program.

Maureen Cole, a soon-to-be Knox senior educational studies major from Downers Grove, is assisting Robin Ragan's "Self-Esteem for Girls" class.

The course offers a forum for discussion for its strictly female population.

"The kids are really smart," Cole said. "It's great to see how interested they all are in the classes."

Cole said most of the courses offered are "hands on" or discussion based, just like college classes. She said the girls in the body image workshop have been discussing advertising and how that affects their identity.

"I wasn't sure how they'd do with the topic, but they've been really open about talking about the complex ideas," Cole said.

The experience at College4Kids will help Cole when she returns to Downers Grove in the fall to student teach.

"Any more exposure and experience you can have with kids is really going to help prepare you for your own classroom," she said. "It's given me a lot of ideas for when I become a teacher."

Although it's summertime and the students are more relaxed on a college campus - bringing drinks and snacks to class and talking without raising hands - it's still a gifted program.

"This is a college for children, but there is going to be some level of academic rigor," Helfer said. "There are so many talented students from Knox County schools. This is an experience many of them may not be able to have in public schools."

The students also have access to Knox's state-of-the-art equipment.

"They're not just coming in and using the classrooms, they're using the equipment and materials that college students are using," Schroth said. "It really is about providing first rate educational opportunities for children from the surrounding community."

Quick Facts

Knox College4Kids

8:30 a.m. to noon, June 11-22

166 students, grades three through eight

36 classes


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