Students from Kim Johnson’s second grade class gathered around University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point students for a unique lesson in literacy and culture.
"Members of UW-Stevens Point’s Student Wisconsin Education Association (StWEA) recently earned the $1,000 Community Learning Through America’s Schools (CLASS) grant, which will fund Hmong literacy books for donation to local classrooms," said Casey Bahr, StWEA president.
The CLASS grants are earned to perform community service projects designed and organized completely by students. UW-Stevens Point’s proposal stated: "The Stevens Point Area School District has an increasing enrollment of students with diverse backgrounds, which presents the opportunity to promote awareness of the Hmong culture."
"It goes very well with our character education," said Johnson, who graduated from UW-Stevens Point.
StWEA is partnering with the UW-Stevens Point’s Hmong and Southeast Asian American Club (HaSEAAC) to host read-alouds of the books. McKinley Elementary School, where Johnson teaches, is the first of the many Stevens Point schools that will receive book donations and a read-aloud.
John Lenz, a member of StWEA and education major, explained the importance of culture and read the story "Gao Zoua Pa" from one of the donated books while Pa Chear Lor, HaSEAAC member and business administration major, talked about the Hmong culture.
After the reading, the children got a chance to depict their own stories in the form of a "paj ntaub" or story cloth. Story cloths were the form of passing stories in the Hmong culture before a written language was developed.
"I do things with them, but it’s different me telling them compared to someone coming from the university," Johnson said. "It shows what possibilities they can do when they grow up and graduate."