During the heat of summer, when some students are bored with summer vacation and others dread the thought of returning to school, a group of students from around the Tri-state are hitting the books in a non-traditional setting at the Cohen Center on Xavier’s campus. From July 13-24, more than 130 students ranging from the early elementary grades to junior high, work hard to improve their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills as part of what Xavier calls the Reading Practicum. For just $80, the two-week practicum engages students in remediation and enrichment activities related to improving their reading abilities. Ordinary classrooms are transformed into enchanted forests, jungles, beaches, Olympic venues or faraway countries. Students read, explore, and develop strategies to help themselves become better readers. An application can be requested from April Thomas at 513-745-3701.
The students come from both public and private schools in the Greater Cincinnati area. Most students are referrals from area teachers, parents, and schools. “We do not formally advertise the program,” says Leslie Prosak-Beres, Director of Xavier’s Graduate Reading Program and undergraduate literacy coursework for the past twenty-one years. “Our past clients advertise for us.”
In addition to helping these multi-level students, the Reading Practicum is part of a course of study for Xavier graduate students and licensed teachers who are completing requirements for their M.Ed. in Reading and state licensed Reading Endorsement. The graduate students, who serve as the instructors for the children who attend the two-week program, have completed a minimum of 21 hours of advanced study in literacy.
“The graduate program emphasizes collaborative work with other teachers, administrators, parents and professionals,” says Prosak-Beres. “This opportunity to serve the community of learners in a small but important way becomes a catalyst for the betterment of literacy in our region, and a true reflection of the Catholic, Jesuit mission of Xavier and the motto of its College of Social Sciences, Health & Education – Collaborate. Innovate. Educate.”
Sally Barnhart, one of Xavier’s clinical faculty, and Kasey Dunlap, a long-time adjunct instructor and graduate of the program, are the instructors of record for the practicum. They organize the program, from applications to curriculum development. Teachers, some of whom are graduates of Xavier’s Master’s program in Reading, assist as supervisors and mentors for graduate students. We could not have such a successful program without them,” noted Prosak-Beres. “They give unstintingly of their time and talents to help students who struggle to ‘love’ reading.”
In a short amount of time, that is long on tradition and educational excellence, Xavier’s Summer Reading Practicum for students has become a journey on the pathway to the “love of reading.”