New Vocabulary, New Concepts, New Teacher

As Rutgers Prep sprang back into action after our winter break, many of our recent graduates were still at home visiting. Most college’s academic calendars don’t start back up until later in January, which tends to result in a warmly welcomed group of former students streaming back on to campus to reconnect with faculty members and each other. This year, one of these returnees was invited into a few of our Lower School classrooms, and so it was that our fifth graders found themselves learning new vocabulary and new concepts with a new teacher.

Like her brother Andrew Parr ‘12 before her, Sarah Parr ‘16 is a Rutgers Prep “lifer,” having spent her entire academic career prior to college here with us at Rutgers Prep. As a first-semester freshman at Case Western Reserve this fall, Sarah enrolled in a course entitled “Women in the Ancient World,” and when some of her former teachers heard about it, they invited her to spend some time in their classrooms while home on break. Sarah learned that Rutgers Prep fifth graders were studying Hatshepsut, Egypt’s first female pharoah, and used that as her starting point.

“There’s a lot of new vocabulary to learn when you study Ancient Egypt, so I decided to start there. I hadn’t actually read the book the students had, so I truly didn’t know what they knew; I decided to use that to my advantage. I was learning from them, they were learning from each other, and then we expanded on what they knew, which was a lot. To drive home some of the most important terms, I divided the class into groups of two or three and gave them each a key term for them to create a skit for. Their creativity with props and ideas was amazing.”

Thinking back on her time at Rutgers Prep as a student, Sarah shared that she had learned some of the exercises she drew on – like brainstorming key words and taking a few minutes to write down everything you know about them, and then organizing your thoughts and remembering even more information – from her Advanced Placement World History course.

Not surprisingly, our fifth graders were very enthusiastic about their time with Sarah. Zachary’s favorite part was presenting, while Abbigail was delighted to have a chance to do some acting. Vikram liked that the students worked together to do the charades, and Phillip was happy to learn some new vocabulary.

Mrs. Vinchur added, “The students were definitely engaged. They were up and out of their seats, moving and learning.” As the students headed off to their next class, one boy turned to Sarah and said, “Good luck in college! You did great. I hope you get a good job – you deserve it.”

These kinds of unique cross-divisional opportunities are part of what make the Rutgers Prep experience a special one, and we’re always happy to see our faculty leveraging the talents of their students… even the ones who have graduated!

At the end of class, Sarah lingered for a quick pose with fellow “lifers”