SHSU students help Huntsville schools in new program

12 years ago Comments Off on SHSU students help Huntsville schools in new program

SHSU students can inspire younger students to stay in school with a new program, HBS2. The initials stand for Harriet Beecher Stowe Help for Better Schools. Created by Dr. Charles Stowe in honor of his great-great grandmother, the program honors the Uncle Tom’s Cabin author by acknowledging her interest in education. The Stowe family encouraged learning in a time when most people never achieved anything beyond a sixth-grade education.

The “squared” part of the logo refers to the exponential impact of one person’s actions on the lives of others. Stowe volunteered during his time in the ROTC program at Vanderbilt College. “I know what [volunteering] did for me, how much I learned from the students. I learned a lot about myself… and I know our students will, too,” he said.

Besides the non-monetary rewards of volunteering, SHSU students who participate in HBS2 will receive credit on their co-curricular transcripts. The co-curricular transcript lists activities outside of classes and employment, such as student or Greek associations and volunteer work.

Stowe said while programs like Boys and Girls Club of America are worthwhile projects, this program is designed to fit the demands of a college student’s life.

After a brief orientation to determine the college students’ interests, the program will place students in various classes so they can interact with the elementary-aged children. The only requirement is that students show up for an hour and a half every week for the five-week duration of the program.

“The Boys Club demands a lengthy commitment. Those are excellent programs, but most college students are not free to do that. This is a reasonable commitment,” he said.

Stowe said he knows from experience with his own 5-year-old that the children will be instantly curious and more alert in class. They will want to know who the new visitor is, and they will be encouraged to know that the big person in class with them is a student, too.

He added another reason for starting the program in Huntsville.

“Many of the children who have parents in prison are in Huntsville just to be close to their parents. I want them to meet many college students so that they will perceive the value of education and that the norm in society is to continue in their education as far as possible,” he said. “They’ll be inspired by exposure to an older peer group that are loving and kind and willing to share their time.”

This is just the beginning of what might grow into a huge program. Next semester, SHSU students may be able to work with older students, and Stowe hopes the program can spread to other areas. For now, it is just a pilot program, but interest has already been significant.

Huntsville Elementary School Principal Pam White will lead the orientation. She will explain basic rules and regulations for the district and have the college students sign a form permitting the school to do a criminal background check. This is district policy and necessary to protect the students.

Orientations will be held today and Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Huntsville Elementary School. For more information about the HBS2 program, contact Dr. Stowe at [email protected], pick up applications and directions at the Dean of Students Office, or call (936) 294-1783.