Faculty find rewards in teaching Knox College for Kids

Physics professor, Latin teacher, photography instructor reflect on classes held June 11-22

June 29, 2012

All teachers learn from their students. When a professional photographer, who's also taught for 30 years, learns something from one of his grade-school students in Knox College for Kids -- it's a Kodak moment.

"I remember once I told the students that you couldn't take a photo in a cave," recalls Tom Foley, who has taught photography in Knox College's summer enrichment program since the early 1980s. "A student said that you could take a photo, but it would be all black. To me, an all black photo is a failure. I hadn't acknowledged that it really is a photo -- I had some preconceived ideas that young people don't have."

Photographer John Williams followed Foley, physics teacher Mark Shroyer and Latin teacher Brian Tibbets, and each offered thoughts about their approaches to teaching classes for students in grades 3 through 8:

Shroyer, a professor of physics at Knox, compares teaching at Knox College for Kids to surfing: "There's all this energy, and if you can stay on top of it, it's wonderful. And it's really positive energy." Shroyer and his students explore and play with energy in various forms -- from fizzy soda-bottle volcanoes to spectrometers that explore distant, astronomical objects.

Tibbets, a 1996 Knox graduate and high school Latin teacher, says that he aims to make his classes -- both during the school year and at Knox College for Kids, lively and realistic.

"I studied Latin and French in high school -- a lot of drill and rote translation. I didn't mind that, but I knew there was a whole living culture of Rome and the ancient world," Tibbets says. "In my classes, I present a living culture, showing the real, honest aspect of what it was like to be a Roman."

Knox College for Kids is a summer academic enrichment program on the campus of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. This year it enrolled more than 260 students in 50 classes, from June 11 through 22.