Early next month I’ll begin teaching a new course to the combined first and second cohorts of Hope-Western Prison Education Program students at Muskegon Correctional Facility. The first cohort students are evolving into fine college students — their mean GPA is 3.77 — but for the second cohort students this will be their first college course. For many of them, this will be the first formal education they’ve experienced in years, or even decades. For them, this will be a big moment.

And while I’ve been recruiting, orienting, and encouraging other professors in their teaching in the prison for HWPEP, this will be my first experience teaching incarcerated students. What has been theoretical is now about to become concrete and tangible. This will be a big moment for me as well.

Some of the reading for First-Year Seminar

The course is First-Year Seminar: Integrating Faith, Leadership, and Service. Funded by a grant from NetVUE, First-Year Seminar will eventually be paired with a Senior Seminar taken in the students’ last year in college. These courses serve as “bookends” to help students understand college ways of learning and knowing, what it means to be called to a vocation, and how human beings understand truth through the lens of worldview. HWPEP students will wrestle with the following questions in their First-Year Seminar:

What is faith?
What is leadership?
What is service?
How can I succeed in college?
What is research, and how can I engage in it?
What is my vocation? To what am I called?

Students will read and write every day for two months. They will develop a service project proposal with other members of their class. They will engage in daily discussions in a seminar style. They — and I — will have to stand and deliver, together.

Pray for us.

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