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Gift teaches reading, funds faculty project

Mary Roe, professor of literacy education, sees her new summer reading program — in which her teacher-education students tutor Pullman school children — as a “triangle of learning opportunities.”

First, tutoring will help children to become better readers and more successful students.

Second, Roe’s students, who are future teachers enrolled at the College of Education, will gain valuable hands-on experience by interacting with students struggling to read.

Third, Roe herself, as the organizer and supervisor of the tutoring relationships, expects to learn from the students and their interactions.

“In these outreach programs, I always learn from my students’ experiences and then bring those insights and examples back to my own teaching,” she explained. “This kind of program serves us all well.”

Rewarding for donor
There is a fourth beneficiary of the tutoring program not included in that triangle — Nancy Ellison, the College of Education alumna who created the endowment that funds the program. Ellison loves to read and wants to make a difference for struggling students with a commitment that comes straight from her heart.

“Reading is my passion,” she explained. “I read for pleasure, continuing education and information. If you have that skill, it will carry you throughout life.”

In May 2000, Ellison (a 1961 education alum) and her husband, Ben, (a 1962 engineering graduate) established a WSU endowment fund, with half the income generated to be used for College of Education literacy programming. The tutoring project, which begins this summer, is the first created through that endowment.

Faculty/donor partnership
“This tutoring project is a trial, so we will be keeping it small,” Roe said. “We may decide to expand it, or decide we need a different kind of offering, like a book club or a focus on Internet reading. Whatever that decision, this is the beginning of a long-term program in literacy education created in partnership with Nancy Ellison.

“These collaborative interactions have the potential to create numerous fruitful projects that provide significant benefit to our students and to our communities,” Roe said.

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