Xavier's longtime Reading Practicum program for local schoolchildren starts this week on campus

The program serves public and private school students who are referred by teachers and parents | July 15, 2009

While some children are hard at play during their summer vacation from school, a group of local schoolchildren is hitting the books at the Cohen Center on Xavier’s campus during Xavier's annual summer Reading Practicum.

From July 13-24, ordinary classrooms are being transformed into enchanted forests, jungles, beaches, Olympic venues or faraway countries as more than 130 students read, explore and develop strategies to help themselves become better readers. The students are working to improve their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills during the two-week practicum that provides remediation and enrichment activities related to improving their reading abilities.

The students are from the early elementary grades through junior high in local public and private schools in the Greater Cincinnati area. Most are referred by 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. “Our past clients advertise for us.”  

In addition to helping the young students, the Reading Practicum is required study for Xavier graduate students and licensed teachers completing requirements for their M.Ed. in reading and state-licensed reading endorsement. The graduate students, who serve as the instructors for the children attending 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 and a true reflection of Xavier’s Catholic, Jesuit mission and the motto of its College of Social Sciences, Health, and Education–Collaborate. Innovate. Educate.”

Sally Barnhart, one of Xavier’s clinical faculty, and Kasey Dunlap, a longtime adjunct instructor and program graduate, are the practicum instructors who handle applications and curriculum. Teachers, including some graduates of Xavier’s reading program, 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.”