Rebecca R. Noel has to confess that she really does live in the past. Only that could explain how she found herself in 1808 clothing in May, along with Marcia Schmidt Blaine and various campus and community dignitaries, reenacting for alumni the day when the Holmes Plymouth Academy received its charter to found a school in Plymouth. The skit included a musical number written by Patricia Lindberg of the Education Department and composer Will Ogmundson, along with a short script. As the characters circulated around the tables at the Alumni Weekend luncheon, additional dialogue was improvised, based on research conducted by Blaine, Cynthia Vascak of the Art Department, University Archivist Alice Staples, and Noel. When Plymouth received its 1808 charter to establish an academy, launching a tradition of higher learning in Plymouth that continues at PSU today, Thomas Jefferson’s presidency was winding down and Britain was still “impressing” American sailors into its navy. Research revealed that Plymouth tended to vote Federalist in the early 1800s, unlike most of New Hampshire. Researching and celebrating this bicentennial was a highlight of Noel’s year.
Now in her fifth year at PSU, Noel has turned from creating new courses to polishing the ones she has developed. Noel did experiment with a Writing Fellow in her Writing Connections course, The American Civil War and Reconstruction. Already posted as a fellow in the Writing Center, Social Studies Education major Jessica Dube ’09 became the go-to writing tutor for students in the course, which she was also taking. The use of Writing Fellows has long intrigued Robin DeRosa of the English Department, and as WAC Coordinator, Norl was eager to give it a try. The pilot fellowship proved that the model has potential: students in a course get a peer tutor who knows their course well, and peer tutors get substantive experience in writing pedagogy.
Noel has been involved in numerous other activities, such as a proposed revision of the Honors Program and an effort to assessment all the Writing Connections courses at PSU, to be led by Composition Director Elliott Gruner of the English Department. Noel has also just been elected to the Women’s Studies Council. Phi Kappa Phi, which she directs along with Whitney Howarth, held another successful induction this past spring.
In February, Noel gave a talk at the Plymouth Historical Society entitled “Samuel Read Hall of Holmes Plymouth Academy: New Hampshire’s First Teacher Educator.” Her review of Prodigal Daughters: Susanna Rowson’s Early American Women, by Marion Rust, will appear in the British journal Literature and History within the next year. She will give a talk at a conference at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts in November, and her article “Schooling and Child Health in Antebellum New England” will appear in the book Children and Youth in a New Nation (edited by James Marten), forthcoming from New York University Press on January 1, 2009.