Major: Social Studies Education
Hometown: Emmaus, PA
Further Degrees: Master of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education
Current Summer Job: Middle and high school teacher at the Delaware Valley Friends School in Paloi, Pa,
Most Enhancing Experiences: The two most life-changing experiences I had with the Honors College came from its holistic approach to teaching students. I had the opportunity to complete an undergraduate honors thesis from my own research and travel, and I had the opportunity to study aboard in Turkey and Cyprus. With faculty guidance, I created a three-year plan to research, write, and present my undergraduate honors thesis. I was supported by my thesis advisor, who skillfully coached me through the process of developing my work. In the beginning of freshmen year, I knew that I wanted to write my thesis on Monastic communities in the medieval church. My advisor encouraged me to apply for a grant from the Honors College to attend the School of Medieval Studies at the University of Cambridge. It was during the summer of 2007 at Cambridge that I was introduced to the women mystics in the medieval church. The knowledge I gained about women like Margery Kempe and Saint Catherine of Siena changed my area of focus as well as my perspective on women’s contributions to the development of European society. I returned to Europe with the Honors College the following spring to continue gathering research at Italian female saint shrines. By my senior year, I grew with my paper under the direction of the History Department. I created a work of which I am very proud, entitled, “God Made Man in his own Image, Leaving Woman to Find Her Own Spiritual Identity: An Exploration of Medieval Female Pilgrims and Their Relationships with Their Body and Their God.” The support, advice, and experience I gained during the completion of my undergraduate honors thesis prepared me to successfully complete my master’s thesis for the University of Pennsylvania.
My most momentous professional travel experience has been my excursion to Turkey and Cyprus. In the summer of 2009, I traveled to Turkey and Cyprus with Dr. Goebel, Dr. Moore, and a group of about thirty students. This experience instilled in me a love for Turkish history and the Turkish people. This love has motivated me to create many lessons about the importance of the country as well as the importance of learning about world history. I was able to construct a project-based unit on the Middle East for the ninth-grade students at Northeast High School. I was able to bring elements from Turkey and Cyprus, such as language, food, artifacts, and pictures, to my students in Philadelphia. I incorporated Turkish phrases into my classroom. When my students come in to my class or see me in the halls of the school, they greet me by saying “Merhaba Miss Bartges!” I think that even a modest level of the knowledge and use of a new language makes the culture of my class unique and makes my students feel special about extending their knowledge beyond what their peers learn in World History class.
Aside from the education that I gained as a student, Honors College has also made a profound impact on the philosophies I hold as a teacher and the methods that I use in the classroom. I emulate facets of the Honors College as a way to build a sense of community and scholarship with my high school students. I treat them like professionals by giving them the responsibilities of social scientists. I require that they explore history and current events through the lenses of different scholars, such as historians, political scientists, anthropologists, socialists, and economists. I ask them to conduct and present their own research in a model similar to the “presentations” the HC uses at the end of each unit.
About my major: I felt extremely privileged to be a part of the History Department at IUP because it is comprised of brilliant professional historians who serve the student body as engaged and talented teachers. These professors taught me how to research, read, write, and think like a historian. They opened my mind to the patterns and themes that lie within human development and civilization. My professors were experts who used their own field work and research to enhance their teaching and make their classes captivating, personal, and unique. The History Department is devoted to its students. The professors are always available during their office hours and are enthusiastic about helping their students develop ideas for thesis papers, discussing important themes in history, and providing feedback on student work. Throughout the four years I spent in Keith Hall, I felt completely supported by a network of historians and educators who were all rooting for me to succeed!
HC Impact: The Honors College changes people because its faculty believes in and invests in its students. As an incoming freshman, I was very sensitive to my environment and the attitudes expressed by those around me. The Honors College’s focus on scholarship and self improvement benefited me profoundly in my first year because it helped me grow into the individual that I needed to be to accomplish my life goals. One of the most life-enhancing skills I gained from the Honors College was the ability to view myself as a true academic. My professors gave me the perspective I needed to help me see the endless potential that could come from my own studies and research. As a student at the RECHC, I did not feel like I was just a college student making it through one semester at a time. Instead, I assumed the role of a historian and educational philosopher.