BLOOMINGTON – Ivy Tech Community College’s Bloomington campus recently donated books on Greco-Roman, African, and Norse mythology and folklore to Highland Park Elementary sixth grade students, as part of an initiative called “Classics in the Classroom.” Jerry Hansen III, assistant professor of philosophy and humanities, donated the books on Friday, Jan. 26.

Claire Clayton’s sixth grade social studies classes are using the materials to study for the National Mythology Exam, administered by Excellence Through Classics, a subcommittee of the American Classical League. Students will take the exam on Friday, Feb. 23 and Ivy Tech also donated funds to cover students’ exam fees.

Some of the materials donated included D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths, Guerber’s The Myths of Greece and Rome, and activity packets from Excellence Through Classics.

“Research has found that knowledge of context increases reading comprehension and fluency,” said Hansen. “We believe this initiative can help students improve literacy and interest in reading and storytelling in our community as they develop greater multicultural awareness and historical and artistic understanding. Learning about these things early will help students be better prepared for their later schooling. The kids also have a lot of fun seeing how much the stories of the past influence the stories and characters that they know and love, including Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, and Star Wars.”

Hansen and other Ivy Tech faculty members have volunteered their time throughout the fall and spring semester to teach Highland Park students about ancient Greece and Rome and their influence on the medieval and Renaissance periods in Europe. In future weeks, Ivy Tech students will join Hansen in mentoring Highland Park students in their studies.

Hansen is working with Malik McClusky, Ph.D., assistant professor of philosophy, and Jaclyn George, instructor of economics, to develop Ivy Tech service-learning courses to expand the Classics in the Classroom program to other elementary and secondary schools. Highland Park Elementary will serve as the pilot location for their courses.

“We hope to expand to other schools, topics and grades, to help fifth or eighth graders, for example, consider classic U.S. stories as they study the country’s history,” said Hansen.

As part of its mission, Ivy Tech Bloomington has always placed a strong emphasis on creating engaging learning environments through service learning.

“I believe that a curriculum rich in experiential service learning opportunities benefits all parties involved,” said Martin Wolfger, dean of the school of arts, sciences and education. “Working with community partners not only enriches the classroom experience but also enables our students to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, gain real-life experiences, network, and give back to the community. Our community partners grow their pool of potential volunteers, gain access to additional resources to address pressing needs, and help us prepare students to become future civic leaders.”

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.