Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Covering the bases

Seminar takes on all-American pastime

The game of baseball, says David Fox, is a microcosm.

“There’s a goofy T-shirt that says, ‘Baseball is life’—and there’s some truth in that,” says the Wheaton theatre professor. “Baseball is a lens on the world. And the human stories that come out of it are very, very compelling.”

Last fall, Fox and 18 freshmen explored some of the game’s most memorable stories in a new First-Year Seminar titled “Curses, Cornfields, and Called Shots: Baseball as the Stuff of Myth and Legend.” Fox, a lifelong Red Sox fan, organized the syllabus into “innings” that explored themes such as baseball as romantic fiction, race and gender in baseball, and baseball’s rough side (subtitled “business, bitterness and scandal”).

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Combating sexual violence

Grant will support new campus programs

combating sexual violence

In November, Kate Gannon ’16 raised awareness about sexual assault by hanging fact-filled pink shoes from a tree in the Dimple as part of her outrageous acts assignment for her “Introduction to Women’s Studies” class. “I was doing some research and I read a fact, which I put on one of the shoes, that 97 percent of rapists don’t spend a day in jail. That was startling to me and devastating. So I decided to do a piece about victim blaming because women are often blamed for what they are wearing,” she said.

Wheaton has won a three-year, $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to develop programming aimed at combating sexual violence on campus. In partnership with the Norton Police Department and New Hope, a sexual violence crisis center in Attleboro, the college intends to create a comprehensive community-based model that can be shared nationally.

The grant from the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women will support “a continuum of programming that will convey a consistent message that violence against women is not tolerated” at Wheaton, according to the college’s grant proposal. Rather than focusing solely on perpetrators and victims, the program will stress the notion that “every community member has a role to play in combating sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.”

Wheaton was one of 22 institutions awarded a grant from among 110 applicants.

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Truth and beauty in black and white

The award-winning photographer Dorothy Kerper Monnelly ’58 has been called the “Ansel Adams of the wetlands.” Like Adams before her, Monnelly works in black and white and uses a large-format camera to illuminate the majesty of the natural world. Beginning this June, Monnelly will exhibit her work alongside Adams’s in “Fragile Waters,” a traveling exhibition conceived in response to the 2010 BP oil spill.

For more than 35 years, Monnelly has been enthralled by the salt marsh landscape of Boston’s North Shore, and she conveys its ever-changing beauty through her photographs. It was Monnelly’s agent, Barbara Cox, who conceived of the idea of a photography exhibition as a response to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Sarah Alves ’04

Learning full circle

Wheaton and the Norton schools form strong ties around education.

It’s 10:45 on a Friday morning, and third-grade teacher Sarah Alves is trying on shoes. No, she’s not out shopping. She’s teaching language arts.

Sitting in a circle around her, the children giggle as she tries on a men’s hiking shoe, a baby’s cowboy boot and then a ballet slipper. With each one, Alves asks, “Is this shoe a good fit?” And each time the kids call out, “Noooo!” Then she tries on a well-worn bedroom slipper, and they all agree it’s just right.

The exercise is part of a lesson designed to teach kids how to choose a book that fits their interests and comprehension level. It’s a lot like choosing the right shoe, Alves tells them.

“Boys and girls, if I have a shoe on that doesn’t fit me, that’s too tight or too big, I’m going to be very uncomfortable—and if you pick up a book that’s too hard or too easy for you, it’s not going to be a ‘good-fit’ book. When you’re reading a story that you picked, that you like, that is the best way to be a better reader.”

When the activity ends, Alves announces, “The library is open for choosing!” and the children rush to the bookshelves in the corner.

Wheaton Students at Norton Middle School

Wheaton students who went to Tanzania present their experiences in a slide show at Norton Middle School as part of the college’s partnership with the local schools.

It’s only the second week of school at the J.C. Solmonese Elementary School in Norton, but the rapport that Alves already shares with her students bespeaks her skill as a teacher. Her training began at Wheaton, where she majored in psychology and minored in elementary education, graduating summa cum laude in 2004. She completed her student teaching in the Norton school system that year, and she’s been there ever since. Last year, for the first time, she supervised a student teacher of her own—Wheaton student Olivia Ahmadi ’12.

“It was very interesting to be on the ‘other side’ of things,” Alves says, “and it was wonderful to stay connected to Wheaton and see how the Education Department has grown and changed since my graduation. Wheaton is certainly on top of the new trends in education, because Olivia was prepared for the changing classroom and schools.”

This “full-circle” success story illustrates one of the many connections that Wheaton shares with the Norton schools—mutually beneficial partnerships that enrich Wheaton students’ experience while expanding opportunities for Norton’s youngsters. Wheaton students offer tutoring, arts performances, science lessons and more, serving as powerful role models for the younger students. Norton educators open their classrooms to Wheaton students, teach education courses at the college and model current best practices. The two institutions have even collaborated on grant writing and joint program development. [Read more...]