The summer of 2015 saw several changes on Centre College’s campus, including a move by the staff of the admission office from Horky House to Boles Hall. As with any reorganization, sorting through the accumulation of many years’ work can be a challenge—but, in that challenge, admission application clerk Michelle DeWitt also saw opportunity.
“When the admission office moved this past summer, everyone was cleaning out offices and throwing away or recycling a lot of stuff, such as folders, binders, CDs and report covers,” DeWitt says. “I used to be a first grade teacher and made a lot of my own instructional materials, so I found myself thinking about how much I would have loved having all of that free material when I was teaching.”
Then, DeWitt goes on to explain, she recalled hearing one of Centre’s admission counselors, Kendra Montejos, talk about the College’s after-school program, a student-run endeavor founded by Montejos when she was a student a Centre. Now in its sixth year, the program has grown to serve and mentor nearly 50 English as a Second Language students from local schools—elementary through high school—with more than 60 Centre volunteers giving their time per term.
Recognizing potential for repurposing the materials, DeWitt says she asked Montejos if they could use any instructional materials and was met with an enthusiastic reply confirming the need.
DeWitt spent the next three months creating her very own, unique learning games from repurposed materials—cassette tape cases, business cards, outdated magnetic calendars, alpha and numeric labels, even discarded K-cups and soda bottle caps from her husband, Dave DeWitt, associate director of admission. Her vision turned what would have been waste into spelling and matching challenges as well as lively counting and mathematics games—all safe and fun for little hands.
Although DeWitt hasn’t had a chance to see her handiwork in action, the good work she’s done for young students and for sustainability is something she says she’ll continue to pursue.
“I plan to continue making the instructional materials for the after-school program as I get new ideas,” DeWitt says. “I already have some things started, and I’ve got to use up all the cast-off stuff I took home from the office!
“I’m very passionate about sustainability and I saw this project as a way to re-use materials and help others at the same time,” she concludes. “I think of it as three Rs for three Rs — reduce, reuse, recycle for reading, ‘riting, and ‘arithmetic.”
by Cindy Long
November 24, 2015