Graduate reading students help schoolchildren improve their reading and writing skills

The Summer Reading Practicum , hosting 130 children, began more than 30 years ago | July 3, 2008

More than 130 Tri-state students will spend the mornings of July 14-25  at the A.B. Cohen Center on the Xavier campus working to improve their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills as part of the Summer Reading Practicum. Xavier graduate students working toward a master's in reading education will staff the two-week program that engages schoolchildren in grades K-10 in remediation and enrichment activities related to improving their reading abilities in a non-traditional setting. The average ratio of tutors to students is 3:1.

Xavier’s Summer Reading Practicum, in existence for more than 30 years, was designed as part of the course work for the MEd degree and reading specialist program for teachers who want to become master teachers in reading education. It has been under the guidance and direction of Leslie Ann Prosak-Beres, director of graduate reading and multicultural literature, since 1988. The purpose of the practicum is to guide graduate students and master teachers in the art of teaching reading strategies to students challenged by the process, and to offer a reading clinic where students in primary, middle and upper-level grades have an opportunity to strengthen their reading abilities and their enjoyment of reading through guided instruction that is both functional and fun.

Besides helping the schoolchildren, the reading practicum is part of a course of study for Xavier graduate students completing their requirements for the MEd in Reading Education and the state-licensed, K-12 Reading Endorsement. This course is generally the capstone course for their degree.

Clinical faculty member Sally Barnhart and adjunct faculty member Kasey Dunlap serve as the summer directors of the Reading Practicum and are responsible for the instruction of the graduate coursework connected to it. Select master teachers from the Tri-state area serve as literacy coaches and mentors to the graduate students as they develop age- and grade-appropriate curriculum for the students.

“The Xavier reading department is invested in our area schools,” says Prosak-Beres. “We feel our partnership with the schools and the children has a far-reaching impact on our community. The program emphasizes collaborative work with other teachers, administrators, parents and professionals. 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 mission of our Jesuit University.”