September 17, 2021

College of Education, City Spin New Type of Story

Walking along the Rappahannock Heritage Trail, Stephanie Gardner and her kids, Piper and Pierce, read ‘Alex’s Day on the Rappahannock,’ written and illustrated by students in UMW’s College of Education, as part of Fredericksburg Parks, Recreation and Events department’s new StoryWalk(R) project. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Walking along the Rappahannock Heritage Trail, Stephanie Gardner and her kids, Piper and Pierce, read ‘Alex’s Day on the Rappahannock,’ written and illustrated by students in UMW’s College of Education, as part of Fredericksburg Parks, Recreation and Events department’s new StoryWalk(R) project. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Each time Melissa Wells has taught “Literature and the Arts in Elementary Classrooms,” her students have partnered with local teachers to create children’s books to use in their classes.

That wasn’t an option after the pandemic hit, said Wells, an assistant professor in University of Mary Washington’s College of Education (COE). But her colleague, Leslie Martin, faculty director of UMW’s Center for Community Engagement, had an idea.

She put Wells in touch with Fredericksburg Parks, Recreation and Events department, which recently launched a StoryWalk® project to get kids outdoors and reading. This semester, Wells’ students wrote and designed a 20-page storybook, Alex’s Day on the Rappahannock, about a family discovering wildlife and safety while tubing on the river. Rather than paper, the pages will be printed on panels along the Rappahannock Heritage Trail.

“The arts got many of us through the pandemic,” said Wells, who teaches aspiring educators how to integrate arts and literature into their curriculum. “As human beings, we naturally process our world and experiences through storytelling, which can help teach concepts that lead to deeper learning.” Read more.