By: Professor Bill Moreau
I am 40,000 feet above the Atlantic as I write this—aboard American Airlines flight #55 from Manchester, England, to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Professor Tony Donk and I are returning from a June Term in Liverpool with the Education Department. Our twelve students and the two of us are exhausted but elated with a very successful June Term experience.
While in Liverpool, Professor Donk taught a class on literacy to Hope elementary education students, while I taught a secondary methods and principles class to Hope students who would like to teach in a middle school or high school some day. We were housed on the campus of Liverpool Hope University, but we also traveled to London and Edinburgh for long three-day weekends. Our group also took a northern Wales day trip, spent two weeks in either Northway Primary School or in King David High School classrooms to observe and teach, and had multiple opportunities to visit the town center of Liverpool itself.
Once back home from such an experience, friends, family, and colleagues will invariably ask me, “What were the highlights, Moreau?” Here is what I will say in response:
From a group perspective, the absolute best part was getting to know our twelve Hope College students. We had lots of “together time” as one would imagine: traveling, sharing meals, planning, learning, and playing were all part of that togetherness. And this group was amazing when in close proximity to each other. When the fourteen of us were seated family-style at Childwall Abbey pub or in Five Ways Hotel pub or in the small pub that shared space with our Edinburgh hostel or in the London pub where we watched England’s first Euro Cup soccer match against Russia, we shared food, drink, conversation, and therapeutic laughter. These gatherings have bonded us for the remainder of our time left together at Hope College. And for that, I am grateful.
Another highlight was the way our students mastered their school placements. Although everyone’s experience was unique, all loved their students and supervising teachers. While at King David High School, I had the honor of observing our Hope students teach lessons based on analyzing slave poetry, reading informational text explaining the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, writing creatively about a selected region of the US, creating Prohibition propaganda, and reviewing math facts using a form of the Jeopardy game. It was a pleasure to observe their quality work and take pride in the fact that our college and respective departments have prepared them well for their future as teachers.
I must also mention that group togetherness included an hour climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat just outside Edinburgh, Scotland. This nearly thousand-foot climb was on an inactive (rather fortunately) volcano near the royal palace in Holyrood Park. We were also able to spend some time climbing with the sheep in Snowdonia National Park in northern Wales on our last full day together.
I also had several personal highlights that I was afforded on this trip. One of those involved our venture to London for a long weekend. I visited Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub on Fleet Street. This is a pub that was destroyed by the Great London Fire in 1666, but was rebuilt a year later and has remained in its present place since that date. One of my favorite authors, Mr. Charles Dickens, considered this pub his favorite. There is even a small plaque that denotes the very seat where Mr. Dickens usually sat. On a very quiet Saturday afternoon, I sat in his spot and enjoyed a pint of ale—much as Charles Dickens would have done over 150 years ago! As a bonus, one of my favorite books is Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. A first edition copy of this novel is encased in glass and hangs on the wall near Dickens’ seat. It is open to the page that describes a tavern that is undoubtedly Dickens’ favorite, the Cheshire Cheese. What a great afternoon for an English teacher!
So, thank you to Hope College, to my twelve new student best friends, to Professors Donk and Pardo who asked me to join their team, and to the English and Education Departments for allowing me to participate in this June Term adventure. It was truly life altering.