by Sydney Smith of Salisbury, West Scholars Cohort ‘11
Eighteen Catawba College sophomores and juniors who are West Teaching Scholars ventured to Charleston, S.C., to gain firsthand experience of the historic town. The April 5-9 excursion was led by Dr. Rhonda Truitt, associate professor of teacher education and chair of education department at Catawba, and Teresa Weddington, administrative assistant for Catawba’s Academy for Teaching.
After arriving the first night, everyone enjoyed a historic ghost tour of Charlestown, including stops at a haunted dungeon, restaurant, and park. Each location was the setting for tragic deaths in Charleston’s history, including the hanging of America’s first female serial killer.
The scholars spent their second day in Charleston visiting the South Carolina Aquarium, where they learned about a plethora of sea life, including sea turtles, jellyfish, sharks, and starfish. A limited time lemur exhibit was also at the aquarium. After lunch, the scholars visited Magnolia Gardens, a historic plantation site sprawling over acres of gorgeous marsh lands speckled with flowers and animals of all kinds.
The third day of the trip included a horse-drawn carriage tour of historic streets in Charleston. The tour guide explained how the architecture of the city anticipated the potential threat of an earthquake, since the city rests mostly on a major fault line. Also, we learned how the architecture of new buildings is expected to “match” the historic style of the city, so no modern looking structures can be built there. The horse pulling the carriage, Big John, enjoyed making friends with the scholars.
The scholars spent time venturing through the city market of Charleston. Hundreds of vendors gather in the market to sell jewelry, art, clothing, handmade sweetgrass baskets, crafts, and an array of other goods. After the market visit, the scholars left for a kayaking adventure in pairs to get a closer look at some of Charleston’s sea life. Although some scholars returned a bit crispy, the kayaking was a success. The night concluded with a dinner cruise, complete with music, a beautiful view of the Atlantic, and great food.
The last full day in Charleston included a visit to the old slave market museum, which is located in the exact place where slaves were historically sold in Charleston. The biggest event of the day was a visit to the Academic Magnet High School (AMHS) of Charleston. The school, accepting only 170 applicants each year, offers classes for academically and intellectually gifted students. An array of art programs and AP courses are available at AMHS. The scholars sat in on different music, foreign language, math, English, science, and history classes. The day concluded with a relaxing harbor cruise on a sailboat.
As a future educator, this trip was an enriching experience for me -- especially the visit to AMHS. Before visiting this school, I’d never been to a school specifically for gifted children, and I fell in love with the environment and the relationship between the students and teachers there. It was obvious the teachers really enjoyed teaching those children, and the children were so involved and invested in the lessons. In the future, I would definitely consider applying for a position at such a school.
Visiting Charleston was an educational and fun trip for all the scholars. Our memories and experiences in this historic town, while benefitting our education of the world around us, also strengthened the bonds between each scholar, making us stronger, connected cohorts.