Wayne County High School College English Teacher Jared Criswell engaged some 70 students in
his English Literature courses taking dual credit classes with a culminating extra credit event acting out
the characters in Geoffrey Chaucer’s, The Canterbury Tales.
There were students dressed as nuns, priests, and a night servant parading up and down the
high school halls matching up teachers with poetic hints written in old English style clues by their clever
For instance, Senior Myles Gregory dressed as a knight. Students raced to three teachers with
clues before receiving a pretend gold coin reward. He and classmate Ben Vickery solved the following
clue describing Media Specialist Carol Ford:
“A lover of books and a lover of songs.
Most think she’s under 40, but they’d be wrong
As nice as a rose, but even roses have thorns.
If not quiet in her quarters, you may find yourself scorned.
Comparable to Google, in paper form and more –
She can help you answer questions when you walk through her door.”
Another clue students unraveled described Art Teacher Tim Withers:
Of all the folks in the building this one,
Can create of you a plastic statue,
Though you might look a little strange.
He teaches some college, from a book,
On painting, and artists, and statues and such,
But leaves in an electric chariot, wearing a hat.
“He sent us on a pilgrimage onside the high school because it relates to what we were studying
in The Canterbury Tales,” said Gregory. ”They were written in the late 1300’s. The satire is based on
different stories being told by a guy in a pub. People are always trying to one-up him.”
“I’d call it crude humor,” grinned Senior Nick Shearer.
Dressed in a tunic and cape, Gregory improvised on his costume. “I ordered the outfit, but if we
are being completely honest, I couldn’t find a helmet to fit my head…”
“We got to pick our character,” explained Senior Donna Catron, who portrayed a yeoman in a
basic Robin Hood style green cape and red hat. “I was a forester. I worked the land and carried bows and
“It was a fun assignment,” said Catron. “It was fun to learn about the history of the characters
and how Author Chaucer wrote about them.”
Students said the character descriptions were done so well that it was not hard to interpret the
thick book broken into individual stories, even though the language was from another time period.
Chaucer never completed his enormous project and even the completed tales were not revised. The
tales were handed down in several handwritten manuscripts because the printing press had not yet
been invented. Today, his works appear in book form so students can study the remarkable stories.
“We read three of the stories as a class,” said Shearer. “The Miller’s Tale, the Knight’s Tale and
The Wife of Bath’s Tale.”
Several of the students liked The Miller’s Tale the most because it had a lot of humor in it, which
was apparently uncommon for that time period.
The English 111 class is a little more advanced because it is a dual credit course through
Campbellsville College. While the pilgrimage was a fun extra credit opportunity, about 80 percent of the
different classes grades are based on the five papers they tackle. Criswell has been pleased because
their papers have been solid, exhibiting a higher quality of writing.
“They engaged with it a lot better,” noted Criswell, who serves as the chair of the WCHS English
Not only are high school students continually learning, but the staff is also gaining ground
through trainings, conferences, professional learning communities, and high-level college courses they
enroll in after school hours. Therefore, the instruction just keeps getting better.
Last spring, Criswell took an online Masters Class through Morehead State University that
included studies of Chaucer’s work, so he believes he did a better job teaching the course this semester.
Like his peers, he already has a Master’s in Education, but now he is finishing another Masters in English
Literature, as well.
Looking back, local students were only able to get an English 1 Composition dual credit
previously. Now, they have the opportunity to get a dual credit English Literature 111 credit and follow
that up with English Literature 112 next semester.
1st Period English 111
2nd Period English 111
4th Period English 111
Amir Ruiz and William Wright both had a great time on their pilgrimage
(L-R:) Austin Bell, Chasten Adams, Hyther Vaughn
Amir Ruiz got into a battle with Luke Vickery
(L-R:) Natalie Elam, Emma Carter, Hailey Roberts
Weston Alexander finding his way through the pilgrimage
(L-R:) Sydney Sloan, Kara Taylor, McKenzie Bell
Macey Blevins and AJ York
The Canterbury Tales
Hannah Griffin and Keely Bertram
(l-r) Kaitlyn Dunagan, Emily Combs, and Sierra Stapleton