Mobile Classroom Born in Syracuse to Tour USA

For years, a more than 30-year-old RV served as a space for students in the Syracuse City School District to develop their artistic skills. Now, those behind the Mobile Literacy Arts Bus are hoping to convert it into a different sort of educational space. Reporter Elizabeth Jeneault tells us what they plan to do with it once the transformation is complete. 

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- In 2007, an associate professor at Syracuse University had an idea. That idea became a classroom, but not one you’d call conventional.

“We decided to purchase an old RV," said Marion Wilson. "So, this is a 1984 American Eagle. It had low mileage and a rough and tumble interior.”

Students helped renovate the bus into an art sanctuary, used by the Syracuse City School District for years. But now, those behind the MLAB have dreams of bringing it outside of the city, on a tour of the country’s poorest school districts. Before it makes those stops, it’ll be transformed into a different type of educational space.

“Originally it was built as an art bus, as a creative writing bus," said Wilson. "Now, we’re really thinking about science and botany and plants.”

MLAB instructors will have students go out in their communities to find moss. They’ll then bring it back to the bus to examine and draw it.

“It’s the first form of plant life and it teaches us a lot about our human existence, as well," said Wilson.

Graduate students will be taking the bus on its trip. They can’t wait to provide kids with a new perspective on science.

“You know, children need to be taken out of their everyday environments as much as possible," said Ryland Heagerty, the MLAB's project manager.

A fundraiser is being held to help pay for the MLAB’s renovation at Pastabilities in Syracuse beginning at 10 p.m. on May 2nd. 

Two agencies, the I Have a Dream Foundation and 21C Museum Hotels, are helping the MLAB with the tour. 

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