Teachers Send NWU Students to Detention

Maybe you spent some hours in detention during high school. Or maybe you just watched “The Breakfast Club” a few times. Either way, you know better than to volunteer for detention.NWU English students came out of their experience at the detention center with a deeper sense of the obstacles and opportunities young people face.

So you can imagine students’ surprise when Assistant Professor of English Brad Tice and Professor of English Gerise Herndon informed their fiction writing and English 1 classes that all of them were headed to detention—despite the fact that they’d done nothing wrong.

The students served last spring as writing mentors at the Lancaster County Youth Service Center, a local detention center. Students from Tice and Herndon’s classes worked together to develop four writing workshops.

“I was excited, curious and nervous,” said Chloe Petit (’14) of Houston, Texas. “We wanted them to like writing, but we couldn’t force them to like it.”

“Initially, I think a few were scared,” said Herndon. “I told them to look at it as a learning opportunity—an opportunity to learn about something they probably don’t know much about.” She also invited youth center staff to her Old Main classroom to discuss the center’s environment, residents and expectations with students. Youth center staff also assured NWU students of their safety.

Mariah Jessen (’13) of Dalton, Neb., said the unease was mutual. “There were some students who never felt completely comfortable with us,” she said. “But there was one girl in particular who opened up to me, and we had wonderful conversations about why she was there and how she is ready to get out and change.”

I grew as a person. I realize how lucky I am to be a happy, successful college student.

The experience inspired Jessen to get involved in a mentoring program at the Lancaster County Youth Service Center. And Petit said the experience likely impacted her more than the youth center residents. “I became a more confident person and teacher,” she said. “And I grew as a person. I realize how lucky I am to be a happy, successful college student.”

“Many of these kids need role models,” Herndon said. “Maybe an exercise like this will help them discover something they are good at that they wouldn’t have thought about otherwise.”

Likewise, an exercise like this can help NWU students to realize how important effective writing and communication skills can be in their own personal and professional success.

“I think many of our students were shocked at how much they enjoyed the experience,” said Tice. “I think they realized that some of the kids are just like anyone else, but they’ve been dealt a different hand.”

Get your teen excited about reading

Do you have a reluctant teen reader at home? Encouraging teens to read more is one of the best things you can do to help them be successful in college (preferably NWU)! Erin Schreiner of eHow.com is a middle school teacher in Ohio. She offers these tips to hook your teen on books.

Provide your teen
with high-interest
reading material….

Do not limit your teen to
options that you may find
appealing.

Model reading….
Show your teen that reading
is really important by reading
yourself.

Talk about reading….
This exchange not only
encourages her to continue
reading, but also allows
for some family conversations
and togetherness.

Visit the library….
Encourage teens to take
advantage of this valuable
literary resource.

Take your teen to
book signings
…. Your
teen will likely be more
excited to read once she
has met the individual who
produced the book.

Enroll your teen in
a reading group….
Your
teen may be more interested
in reading if it is a social
practice. Additionally, she will
likely meet positive role
models at this reading group.