Thursday, July 30, 2009

Update on Maggie Meyer's Literacy Project

Got a facebook message from Maggie the other day and her literacy project has sparked some interest in several quarters. Dr. Lemke's wife Harriet worked with Hartsville's Burry Bookstore to establish a box for books and others have done similar things. The literacy project was discussed in a previous post so I will just share with you Maggie's last note. She is a Fulbright Scholar teaching English in Malaysia:
the Note
I have been talking with Mrs. Lemke about that and I simply can't believe the outreach of support I have received for this project! People have set up five book boxes in four different states. I have a feeling that this project may end up doubling the school's library. (Currently their library is two bookcases of books/mostly manuscripts that are stapled together).
Plus, all of this comes at a time when Malaysia is really struggling with the issue of English literacy. There are strong forces in this country advocating for abolishing English totally from public schools (Even though a 1/3 of the population speaks it as their primary business language). However, there is an equal push against this movement, trying to ensure that English stays and is integrated more fully into the curriculum.
Also, the project and its results thus far, have inspired three other ETAs to take up the cause and expand the libraries in their schools with similar literacy projects. It truly feels like a worthwhile and 'fruitful' project.
Speaking of real fruit, I think I am about to explode. Fruit season is in full swing here, and everyday I am brought plastic bags full of strawberries, rambutans, lychees, bananas, mangosteens and durian. I can't bear to tell them to keep it, so I usually take a few pieces and share the rest with boarding students. It is only 9:30 a.m. and I already have a box of strawberries, a tree branch with 12 rambutans on it, and a bag of mangosteens.

Best, Maggie

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Princeton Review again picks Coker College as one of Southeast's best

The Coker College community received a copy of a news release today citing that the college has been named among the top 141 colleges in the southeast. And, as you read the story you will see this puts Coker among the top 25% of the nation. Here is a copy of that release as it came through the Coker College email system from James Jolly, our director of marketing and communications:

Coker College Named a 2010 “Best in the Southeast” by The Princeton Review

Hartsville, S.C. — Coker College is one of the best colleges in the Southeast according to The Princeton Review. The education services company recommends Coker as one of the top institutions in the Southeast in the 2010 Best Colleges feature at This is the sixth consecutive year Coker has received the “Best in the Southeast” distinction.
The Princeton Review selects its best colleges based on excellence of academic programs and the opinions of independent and high school college advisors. The firm also surveys students at each institution about their campus experiences and the quality of the living and learning environment.
“We’re happy to be listed among the best once again by The Princeton Review,” said Coker College President Dr. Robert L. Wyatt. “Such recognition reaffirms our commitment to providing the finest educational experiences for our current students and it helps future students know more about the college.”
The 141 colleges The Princeton Review chose for its 2010 "Best in the Southeast" designations are in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Princeton Review also chose 218 colleges in the Northeast, 123 in the West, and 158 in the Midwest as best in their regions. These best regional colleges represent only about 25% of the nation's four-year colleges.
Coker is an independent, comprehensive liberal arts college founded in 1908. The living and learning environment at Coker fosters participation in the community of scholarship and the development of ethical character, leadership skills and social responsibility. Coker’s unique round table teaching style is nationally recognized for developing leadership and communication skills.
The Princeton Review is known for tutoring and classroom test preparation courses, books, and college and graduate school admission services. Its corporate headquarters is in Framingham, MA.


That is good news as we get ready to start the new academic year and will add to the optimistic attitude that is pervading a lot of the conversations about Coker as people look toward the new year, and the leadership of a new president.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Coker Student in the news

One of Coker's education students, Sue Rogers of McColl, is on the front page of the MORNING NEWS of Florence for achieving a perfect score on the Praxis II exam, taken by candidates for teachers in South Carolina. Shireese Bell, education reporter for the MORNING NEWS, used a news release from Coker as the impetus for this story, which includes two photos in the July 22 edition of the paper. Coker's teacher education program is one of the more popular majors and it serves many prospective teachers from the Pee Dee area of South Carolina with both the day and evening degree programs.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Coker Fulbright Scholar Asks Help with Book Project

Maggie Meyer, who is teaching, living and learning in Malaysia as a Fulbright Scholar has initiated a literacy project for her school that she would love to get some assistance with. I am going to post her email to me in this blog and hope that others will think about providing some books:

From Maggie
Hi Professor Puffer!

I have finally figured out a way to give a little more back to this community. I have organized a new/used book drive for my students and school. If you are interested in participating, let me know! I have attached a flyer that you can print out and distribute, or give it to friends you think might like to participate as well. (I have copied and pasted the text part for forwarding via email) I am trying to get as many books as I can.

I hope your summer is going well! Give my best to your family.


Welcome to the Chalok Literacy Project

Hello! My name is Maggie Meyer. For those of you who do not know me, I am currently living in Chalok Terengganu, Malaysia and completing a Fulbright grant as an English Teaching Assistant here.

Students in Terengganu are keenly interested in America and English. They watch movies from Hollywood, listen to American music artists, and hear about America daily on their television sets. Yet, rarely do these students get the opportunity to experience America and English through books. Books are not only more expensive here but they are hard to obtain. English language bookstores are relatively non-existent in this part of Malaysia. I myself have to travel 7 hours to the capitol, Kuala Lumpur, to buy English language books. Students often cling to every English book they can find, reading them again and again because of the lack of variety. In addition, printed books are expensive in Malaysia. Because they are imported, their price is somewhat higher than if they were purchased in the United States. A one month subscription to the local cable provider is cheaper than one averagely priced English book. DVDs are a fraction of the cost of one book (about 1/3). Because of this, students test poorly on Malaysia’s state exams in reading comprehension. This sad truth sparked the Chalok Literacy Project. It is my goal to provide every student at my school in Malaysia with one English language book by the time I complete my grant in October. As part of the Fulbright mission, I am here to help students understand that English is an engaging and fun language to learn. What better way to raise scores and teach this valuable lesson than to provide these students with English language books?

Here’s How You Can Help

Donate A Gently Used/New Book. (OR SEVERAL books!)
It can be any size you want. It can be about anything you think students would like to read. Ideally, books would be fiction and appropriate for intermediate English speakers. The age range of the students is anywhere between 10-19 years old, so topics can range from fictional animals and adventures to how to gain admission to American colleges. (See end of message for more information)

Don’t have an extensive library? Head online to From there, locate and click on the Wish List button in the top right hand corner. A wish list search bar will appear. Type in Chalok Literacy Project. You can choose from a hearty selection of books, purchase them through their secure server and select to deliver them to the CLP gift registry address.

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Caution should be exercised when sending books that include opinions on religious and political matters. These subjects are extremely sensitive in Malaysia as the large majority of the population is conservatively Muslim.
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If you are sending a used/new book, send an email confirming you or your organizations participation to:

More information on how to send your books to Malaysia will be relayed via email.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Sprinklers and rain - part of the greening of Coker

There are all kinds of running jokes about the sprinklers at Coker and this video is a demonstration of the raining/sprinkling that often happens in the heat of a summer afternoon in Hartsville, SC.

We have a beautiful campus and the timed sprinklers help keep it that way -- they can't help when the storms come.

Jolt of Awareness -- Tempus fugit

The envelope was thick and the return address was Coker. The letter inside from Dr. Pat Lincoln -- Dear Colleagues...Time to think about being back to work. First day of the new semester for faculty is August 11. Time does fly!

In addition to the schedule for faculty week and the invitation of an opening potluck dinner (everyone likes to start with food, Dr. Lincoln's letter included some questions about the college that Dr. Wyatt is asking in preparation for the development of a new strategic plan.

1 -- What institutional values must we preserve at all costs?

2 -- What changes do you see happening in higher education that will require us to respond in order to continue to be successful? What suggestions do you have for how Coker should respond?

3 -- Here is an interesting one -- What one thing must we change to succeed in the next one to three years?

4 -- How might we go about better disginguishing Coker from other institutions with a similar mission, target audience, etc.?

5 -- Is it best for Coker College to devote more resources to those areas in which we can excel, rather than to distribute resources equally among all areas? is so, what would be the best way to determine the areas upon which the college should focus?

Those questions will be certain to generate discussion, if not agreement.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Coker Grad has dance performance in London

Jackie O'Toole, who was a dance and communication major at Coker, has one of her choreographed dances on a program for London later this week. Currently, Jackie is at Florida State University in the MFA Dance program.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Already plans taking shape for Fall - Taste of Coker

One of the double edged swords of small colleges is the need for solid athletic programs and the continuing challenge of funding solid athletic programs. One of the many hats that coaches wear is that of fund raiser; one of the things that makes them good prospects for good development jobs in higher education. About four years Tim Griggs, Athletic Director for Coker, came up with the idea of the Taste of Coker as one of the fund raisers/community involvement activities. It has turned into an event recognized by the NCAA for its novelty and by the Hartsville community for its fun and food. The following article was prepared by the Sports Information Director at Coker and does a good job of getting into the details. If you are interested, they would love for your participation as a cook, sponsor or just a ticketed visitor to the Taste.

4th Annual Taste of Coker Set for September 24
by Christian Stryker, SID Coker College

Hartsville, S.C. - The 4th Annual Taste of Coker date has been set! The Coker College Athletic Department will once again open their doors and their grills on Thursday, September 24, 2009. In just its fourth year in existence, the Taste of Coker has become a local favorite of the Hartsville and surrounding communities.

Last year more than 700 people turned out to sample the goodies of more than 35 local chefs, while participating in activities with Coker athletes, listening to music and watching some live entertainment from the Coker dance and cheerleading teams.

The fourth installment of the Taste of Coker promises to be just as exciting as the previous three, with more food, more fun and even more interactive entertainment planned for the whole family to enjoy.

Tickets to the 4th Annual Taste of Coker go on sale August 1, 2009, at the Coker Athletics Office. Business or individuals interested in sponsorship opportunities should contact Christian Stryker at 843-383-8068 or For all other information on the 4th Annual Taste of Coker contact the Coker Athletics Office at 843-383-8073.

Visit for the latest news and info on Coker College Athletics.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Google Alert is a great tool

A few days ago a paper in England wrote a feature story about a basketball player who had just been made Captain of her international round ball team. The story just happened to mention the player would be attending Coker and that one of her coaches was former Cobra stand out Leanne Chandler. Coach Chandler happens to be a friend on Facebook and through those snippets of information I have found that England beat Slovenia today in one of the team's best international performances. And, making it even more Coker connecting is that Lucy Fish, the subject of that feature story, is "coming across the pond" to play for Coach Carol Megan and the Coker College Cobras.