Students start oral history project about lab school
histories of Shippensburg University and its Grace B. Luhrs University
Elementary School are intertwined, yet many are unfamiliar with the elementary school on campus. This fall,
two groups of Shippensburg students are looking to change that by talking with former Luhrs
Elementary students, teachers and staff to create an oral history of the school.
students in Dr. Laurie Cella’s Studies in Writing class and 16 students in Dr.
Steven Burg’s Theory and Practice of History class will spend the fall semester
compiling a history of Luhrs Elementary, which includes its three predecessor
looking for former students, teachers, administrators and staff members who are
willing to share their stories and memories with us,” said Cella, associate
professor of English and director of the first-year writing program. “We would
like to talk with as many people as possible.”
that some of her students are education majors, eager for the chance to speak
with former teachers about their experiences. Her students will conduct the interviews, then transcribe those conversations to incorporate
their subjects’ own words into their stories. Burg’s students will examine written
records for additional information.
is going to focus on researching the campus’s four historic elementary schools.
Those model/lab schools trace their history back to the university’s first
class,” said Burg, professor of history and chair of the Department of History
and Philosophy. “My students will focus primarily on archival and historical
records, but we also will use the oral histories collected by Dr. Cella’s class,
particularly for the modern period.”
project has a much larger purpose than just turning in a writing assignment for
a grade,” Cella said. “This is a true service-learning project that will create
a historical document for the community at large. And because the stakes are
higher, the students will be taking more risks as writers, which pushes them to
do their best.”
class will have a “publication party” with participants at the end of the
semester to celebrate the project’s completion. “We consider them our partners
in the project — an oral history is very much a collaborative effort.” Students
and their subjects will read excerpts from the first draft of the book at the
final editing and publication work will take place after the semester, with the
book to be printed in early 2015.
laboratory school attached to SU’s College of Education and Human Services,
Luhrs provides a setting for university students from several majors to observe
and participate in elementary school activities. In conjunction with the
adjacent Bartos Child and Family Center, students majoring in education, early
childhood, psychology, sociology, criminal justice, social work and counseling
gain real-world experience through their interaction with the children. About 125
students in kindergarten through fifth grade attend Luhrs.
Those who want to
participate in the oral history project are asked to contact Cella at firstname.lastname@example.org.