By: Erica Lampert ~Staff Writer~
Once again, faculty and students from Xavier have come together to build bridges between Xavier and the local communities.
Xavier’s Honors Bachelor of Arts (HAB) program director, Dr. Shannon Byrne, worked with Bryan Norton, a Jesuit scholastic and visiting faculty member, to create a tutoring program with Cincinnati’s St. Joseph Catholic school.
During the summer, Norton heard from St. Joseph’s pastor Rev. Reynaldo S. Taylor that they wanted to create a Latin program at St. Joseph for their after-school leadership program, St. Peter Claver Leadership Academy.
“When I was at the school for my cousin’s daughter’s baptism, the pastor had asked me what I taught at Xavier. I told him that I taught Latin and Greek, and his eyes sort of lit up,” Norton said.
The school decided to incorporate this Latin program idea into its selective afterschool leadership academy in order to help nurture and create successful students.
“St. Joseph is really trying to set up their students for success as they progress towards high school and college,” Norton said. “The Latin program will only be one component of this new leadership academy to help achieve that goal.”
The leadership academy is an after-school program that students applied to earlier this fall. Those who qualified stay after school until 7 p.m. and have a chance to be tutored in Latin by HAB students from Xavier.
Last semester HAB students were trained by Taylor in order to begin this tutoring program. The program informs students of safe boundaries when tutoring the students.
“We actually had the pastor from St. Joseph come out here in October to help train the students,” Norton said. “We had about twenty of us get trained for this program.”
The program launched this February, starting with an open house where the scholars’ families could come and visit the program.
Tutoring occurs from 4:30-5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at St. Joseph. There will be five to seven students and one to two Xavier faculty members as tutors for the after-school leadership program.
The program is still working on the curriculum and hopes to finalize ideas soon.
“We are working with kids in grades five through eight, so there are different levels we need to consider when trying to teach them Latin,” Norton said. “We are also not working with a text book, and each tutor will have one to two students working with them, causing everybody to do different things. This will be part of the challenge for us moving forward.”
For now, the tutor’s main goals are to lay the groundwork for Latin grammar and to get to know each student, as well as having fun.
“They really are wonderful kids and are really making all of our hearts smile,” Norton said. “We’re all excited, and I’m excited about this mission.”
Through this program, Norton and the HAB program hope to build personal relationships with the students and an institutional relationship with St. Joseph.
“My hope, to be perfectly honest, is that five to 10 years from now, when I have left, that this bridge between Xavier and St. Joseph will be strong and standing, and maybe students beyond the HAB program can help in the future,” Norton said. “As Jesuits we often say that we are at our best when we are building bridges. Making this program is one that is very close to my heart.”
The after-school Latin program wouldn’t be possible without contributions from the students in the HAB program and its director, he said.
“We are very proud of our students who have jumped on board even in the face of busy schedules,” Norton said. “They are excited and committed about it. Dr. Shannon Byrne has also helped me to push this all forward. I could not have started and continued this program without her and my colleagues’ support.”
Norton and St. Joseph are excited about the various ways in which this program could grow and blossom, beyond just the HAB program here at Xavier.
“This program is just good for everyone involved and I’m very honored to be a part of it,” Norton said.