Saturday, October 21, 2017

Rae'Jean Spears: the critical facilitator and conversationalist

Rae'Jean Spears facilitates a conversation about superheroes with students at Language Arts Conference

The past two weeks have been especially busy for my graduate assistant Rae'Jean Spears. First, last week, she joined me in facilitating discussions with several groups of students about their extracurricular learning activities. On the weekend, she led a small group of students through the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of the annual trip to the museum sponsored by the SOAR office at SIUE.

From late last week to this week, Rae'Jean met one-on-one with approximately 50 first-year African American college students concerning their upcoming writing assignments. And then on Wednesday, for our Language Arts & Leadership Conference, Rae'Jean facilitated group discussions with 45 high school black girls about superheroes. During those sessions, she sought out students to talk one-on-one.

Rae'Jean talks one-on-one with student about superheroes  

All in all, Rae'Jean has been one of the most critical facilitators and conversationalists for young people involved in our academic programming. Large numbers of undergraduates and high school students hear and learn from her perspective on the world.  At the same time, she listens to and learns from their perspectives.

Rae'Jean Spears and Amelia Williams talk with high school student for after-school DH program.

On Wednesdays, she contributes to our East St. Louis Digital Humanities Club. She  contributes to discussions about technology with the high school students and makes observations. Just as important, she's constantly participating in discussions with the undergraduate team leaders.  Finally, she produces weekly reflections on the activities of the program.

Who knew that a graduate student in literature would facilitate so many large and small group conversations with African American undergraduates and high school students?

The Language Arts & Leadership Conference, Fall 2017

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