Young students share self-written, illustrated books through Mount literacy program
July 28, 2017
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -
Proud elementary and middle school students read their
self-written and illustrated books to their families on July 27 at
the Newburgh Armory Unity Center. The young students were tutored
by Mount Saint Mary College teacher candidates. The sessions, which
served as a practicum course for the Mount students, was overseen
by professor Rebecca Norman and adjunct professor Nancy Benfer
Nearly 20 local children shared self-written, summer-themed
stories at a Mount Saint Mary College literacy program on July
Under the tutelage of five Mount teacher candidates, the
children – from pre-kindergarteners to seventh graders – spent
about 25 hours over 16 classes illustrating their books at the
Newburgh Armory Unity Center before presenting excerpts to their
friends and families.
The young students’ stories included The Crashing Wave, The Road
to Elmo’s World, and The Lost Dinosaur.
The Mount course was taught by Rebecca Norman, associate
professor of education, and her co-teacher Nancy Benfer ’04, an
adjunct Mount professor. Benfer is also interim principal and
director of special education Bishop Dunn Memorial School.
For the children, the sessions afforded them one-on-one tutoring
and new literacy skills learned in a fun and engaging way, Norman
“In addition to helping to improve their reading and writing,
it’s fostering a love of both,” she said.
For the Mount teacher candidates, the graduate level course was
a hands-on experience in real-world teaching.
Over the course of the program, the Mount students utilized the
Picturing Writing technique. According to Norman, by painting a
picture of their subject first, students can more easily express
themselves through writing.
The Picturing Writing sessions at the Armory are part of the
Mount’s Collaborative for Equity in Literacy Learning (CELL).
Established in 2012, CELL provides tutoring and out-of-school
literacy activities for children pre-school to grade 12 with a
focus on reading, conversation, and activities. It explores
multicultural books, offers family literacy programs, and more.
Each semester about 60 Mount teacher candidates, graduate and
undergraduate, help instill a love of reading in local youth as
part of their community fieldwork requirement.
Mount literacy programs are held in the Newburgh Armory on
Saturday mornings, weekday mornings in the summertime, and weekday
afternoons during the fall and spring semesters. Other events, such
as Family Literacy Night, are held throughout the year.
The first of two classes of young writers proudly display
their books at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center. The students were
taught by Mount Saint Mary College teacher candidates. FAR LEFT:
adjunct professor Nancy Benfer ‘04. FAR RIGHT: professor Rebecca
Norman. BACK RIGHT: businessman and philanthropist William Kaplan,
a supporter of the Mount literacy program and the Newburgh
For teachers and teacher candidates interested in learning the
Picturing Writing technique, CELL will present a two-session
seminar for educators in August. The first week-long session,
focusing on the Image-Making technique, will take place August 7
-11. The second, focusing on Picturing Writing, takes place August
14-18. Sessions run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., each day of the
week, in Hudson Hall Auditorium at the Mount’s campus.
The cost per session is $800, which includes workshop materials,
teacher’s manuals, and poster. For the first session, graduate
credit is available for an additional fee. Register online by
visiting cell.msmc.edu and clicking the “Picturing Writing” tab on
the left. For more information, email email@example.com or call