Education Club Brightens Holidays for Schoolchildren


ST. LOUIS — As the first semester of Maryville University’s 2007-08 academic year comes to an end, the University’s yearlong “Maryville Reads…One Book…One Community” program, with its featured book, The Freedom Writers Diary, continues to inspire intellectual debate and a spirit of philanthropy throughout the campus community. Students, faculty and staff from across academic disciplines and administrative offices have pooled their creative and financial resources to benefit a myriad of local agencies, ranging from homeless shelters to elementary schools.

The latest example of Maryville’s largess is the purchase of school supplies by members of the Education Club and School of Education faculty for donation to Kennard Classical Junior Academy, a magnet elementary school for gifted students located in South City. Education Club officers and club adviser Paul Mack, Ed.D., associate professor of education, recently delivered the supplies to the Kennard Academy, where they were greeted by grateful and enthusiastic schoolchildren.

“I told the students what we were doing as a club and that we collected these supplies to give to them; as soon as I finished saying that, they all said thank you,” said club president Hillary Linnertz of Chesterfield, a junior majoring in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. “This was one of the most rewarding things that I have been a part of. Seeing the smiles on the faces of the students while they were looking through the bags and boxes of supplies gave me goosebumps on my arm because I felt as though we were helping these students just as much as Erin Gruwell (the teacher in Freedom Writers) did (her students).”

In the book, and subsequent movie, Gruwell, who will speak at Maryville on Wednesday, Jan. 16, works two extra jobs so she can buy books for her high school English class in Long Beach, Calif., to read. The Freedom Writers Diary is a compilation of journal entries written by Gruwell’s students. Linnertz said the Education Club was inspired by Gruwell’s unselfishness to collect and buy school supplies for Kennard students. Club members chose Kennard, Linnertz said, because the school hosts Maryville practicum students and student teachers. “It’s our way of giving back and saying thank you,” she said.

Other Education Club officers for the 2007-08 year are Allison Gnuse of Springfield, Ill., vice president; Amy Blumenkamp of St. Louis, secretary; and Amanda Noe of Highland, Ill., treasurer.

School supplies given to Kennard students include 16 notebooks, 13 packets of looseleaf paper, 18 packages of pencils, 32 folders, 10 packs of flashcards and nine packages of crayons. Linnertz said the Education Club plans to make the school supply donation an annual holiday event.

Maryville University is a private institution offering approximately 50 undergraduate, seven master’s and two doctoral degree programs to 3,422 students. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges, Maryville University prepares its students for successful and meaningful careers. Among Maryville’s most recent graduates, 94 percent are employed or attending graduate school. Approximately 15,000 alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.