June 14 2016
Each year the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College hosts local school students as they delve into the world of one of America’s greatest literary figures, Mark Twain. Students ranging from elementary to high school explore the life of Twain and local history as they tour sites that include the exhibit and Mark Twain Study at Elmira College, Woodlawn Cemetery (Twain’s final resting place), and Quarry Farm - the summer home of Twain and his family.
A partnership with WENY TV, has aided in bringing those journeys to life for many local students, such as those from Hendy Avenue Elementary and Cohen Elementary. Students from these two schools had recently received free books through the Mark Twain Literacy Project - an annual program in partnership with WENY TV and Lilley Broadcasting, which owns the television station. The program, which has been in place for about ten years, provides each student with a book that they can keep to learn about the famous author.
Third graders from Hendy Avenue Elementary received "Who Is Mark Twain?" written by April Prince. The students received the biographical paperback before their visit to The Mark Twain study, Woodlawn Cemetery, and Quarry Farm, giving them a chance to experience the places that they had read about in the book.
Cohen Elementary fifth graders received “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” which was written by Twain in his octagonal study, now located at Elmira College, and at Quarry Farm. Again, students received the books prior to their visit to the historic sites, allowing them to envision the the Elmira sites and their influences on the writer as he penned his 1876 novel.
According to Dr. Joseph Lemak, Director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies, "students of all ages are really struck by seeing the Study and Quarry Farm. They study Mark Twain's life and literature in the classroom and it really comes alive when they can see the places mentioned in their textbooks. Teachers have also told me that their students often walk away with a sense of hopeful pride of their home and their own futures, knowing that someone as important as Mark Twain accomplished so much in Elmira."
Teachers interested in the Mark Twain Literacy Project, or a field trip to the Center for Mark Twain Studies, can contact the Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.