Terrell Young’s goal is to learn each college student’s name by the first day of class. And his interest continues long after they’ve graduated and have classrooms of their own.
“I think that involvement is very important,” said the associate professor of teaching and learning at WSU Tri-Cities. “I hear regularly from dozens of my former students with updates of their lives.”
One former student, Vida Zuljevic, is the librarian at Robert Frost Elementary School in Pasco. While earning her teaching certificate and master’s degree in literacy education, she took five courses from Young.
“He was very motivating and inspiring,” she said. “He is an exemplary teacher who undoubtedly deserves the highest awards in the field of education.”
She is not alone in that appraisal. The International Reading Association, the largest association of teachers of reading in the world, honored Young with the 2006 Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading Award. He is one of only 23 faculty so honored in the association’s 50-year history.
Young responds modestly as he seeks to explain the secrets of his classroom success.
“Nothing is a secret. I just try to clearly share my vision of what a future teacher should be,” said Young, who joined the WSU Tri-Cities faculty in 1990. “I also let my students know that I care.”
He sets high standards for his students, expecting them to go beyond the textbook and to have a meaningful classroom discussion. In the classroom, he models a variety of teaching strategies for reading instruction, allowing the students to compare teaching theory with its practical application.
“My classes all have a strong theoretical base,” Young said. “Students can learn to create effective activities in their classrooms if they understand the relevant theory about reading instruction. I want to give them a strong underpinning, so they can make their own decisions about what helps their students.”
Young said he tries to mold his students into lifelong learners, always striving to improve. He encourages their involvement in professional organizations and their attendance at professional conferences.
“I want my students to be informed decision-makers. They should be teachers whose goal is always improving their own students’ learning.”
Terrell Young offers these suggestions for parents who want to improve their children’s reading skills.
• Set aside reading time. Begin with 15 or 20 minutes daily for first- or second-graders and increase the time as the children get older.
• Model reading habits. Don’t just say reading is good; show your children that you like reading by doing it. If you only read after your children go to bed, they will not see you reading.
• Read aloud to your children. Children learn vocabulary and a sense of what makes a story from listening to you read. Young children should listen to one or two books daily. Books on tape are good. Reading interesting stories in the newspaper is another good option.
• Provide nonfiction choices. Many children (often boys) prefer nonfiction. Most classroom reading uses fictional material, so providing nonfiction at home balances those sources. Books, newspapers and magazines are good sources.
• Writing encourages reading. Urge your children to write thank-you notes or keep a journal while on trips or use a diary at home.
• Encouraging older children to read is not easy. Leave magazines and newspapers open to interesting articles. Older children enjoy being read to; encourage them to listen to books on tape.
• Reading or listening to others read promotes active minds, with children creating their own imagery. Watching television or playing video games, on the other hand, promotes passivity since it provides the images for the viewer.