Mount students (left to right) Jenna Zervoulias of Garnerville, N.Y.; Shemaiah Bryant of Newburgh, N.Y.; Erica Pimentel Abell of Hyde Park, N.Y.; and Olivia Rice of New Windsor, N.Y. taught Bishop Dunn Memorial School students about the Parable of the Unmerciful Student using a decorated poster they created for the recent Parables Fair.
The sounds of laughter and learning echoed from the gymnasium at Bishop Dunn Memorial School during a recent Parables Fair, hosted by Mount Saint Mary College students.
Through games, skits, arts and crafts, and lots of candy, the Mount students taught eager fourth and fifth graders the virtues of forgiveness, mercy, and helping others.
Parables are stories used to explain a moral message, similar to fables. This literary device appears in the Bible, usually as a story Jesus tells his followers. Often, it is revealed that those listening to Jesus’ story are represented therein, with an exhortation at the end to follow this new way of thinking about life and one’s interactions with others.
The Bishop Dunn students learned about six of the most popular parables of Jesus from their Mount counterparts, including the Good Samaritan, found in Luke 10:25-37; the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15:11-32; and the Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25:14-30. The Mount students were tasked with relaying the parables through creative presentations, such as interactive skits, colorful comic strips, and even a Bingo game. The lessons also sparked conversations between the older and younger students about fairness, kindness, and using ones gifts and talents to help others.
The Mount students are part of an Introduction to New Testament course taught by Emily Ricci ’15, adjunct professor of Religious Studies. Ricci got the idea to collaborate with Bishop Dunn on the project after recognizing that offering the college students an opportunity to teach could help them appreciate the parables in a more profound way.
“There’s a vast difference between hearing a professor teach about something and teaching it to other people,” said Ricci. “The very nature of parables makes them memorable, and the way in which Jesus delivers them is fascinating, given the political and religious landscape of his time. Having the college students teach these stories to the Bishop Dunn students is highly impactful, because it allows the college students to feel a vested interest in the lesson being taught and relate it to today in very real ways. Suddenly, it’s not just about them teaching others: they end up teaching themselves along the way.”
Ricci also valued the impact that service had on the college students’ understanding of the material. The Mount’s president, Dr. Jason N. Adsit, recently charged the Mount with becoming the most community-minded and service-oriented college in the country. Ricci took up the challenge with excitement through this project.
“I was happy to embrace Dr. Adsit’s vision of service in my class through this unique experience,” she noted. “Many of the parables relate to serving others; what better way to illustrate this than by having my students put those values into action themselves?”
Ricci and Nancy Benfer ’04, principal of Bishop Dunn Memorial School and fellow Mount adjunct professor, already have plans to make the collaboration an annual tradition.