Posted on Friday, March 5, 2010
Twenty-three Westminster College elementary education majors participated in the 21st National African American Read-In Feb. 24 at Farrell Elementary School.
The students are enrolled in a class taught by Dr. Charlene Klassen Endrizzi, Westminster professor of education.
The read-in is sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English to help students value diverse children's authors. Westminster pre-service teachers selected books by African American authors to share with students in grades one-six, followed by a variety of art and music experiences. The program was coordinated by Sharon Sciulli, a Title I reading teacher at Farrell.
After Westminster juniors Rachel Jack and Jordan Reinhart shared If a Bus Could Talk, a book about Rosa Parks, one second-grader created a birthday card for Miss Parks with the message "Thanks for un-separating us."
Juniors Emma Montgomery and Steve Seidelson shared Campy: The Story of Roy Campanella with second-grade students. Montgomery said, "Talking openly about African American history allows students to see through color into the person."
Junior Betsy Gillum and Lifelong Learning Program student Terri Kilmer shared The Hickory Chair. Kilmer said, "The pride in Black History Month was palpable. I learned that diversity is indeed the patchwork that makes us all more interesting people."
In addition to current Westminster students, there were a number of Westminster alumni who participated: Farrell High School Principal Lora Adams-King was present; Farrell Elementary literacy coaches Nicole Stabile Lombardi and Valerie Morrison organized the read-in in collaboration with Klassen Endrizzi; and Japraunika Wright teaches one of the second-grade classes.
"Our primary goal for offering this experience centers around the need for intercultural understanding between pre-service teachers and African American children," Klassen Endrizzi said. "Our predominantly European-American college students need to explore other cultures beyond their own, since they will encounter an increasingly diverse student population in their future classrooms."
Klassen Endrizzi, who has been with Westminster since 1993, earned undergraduate and master's degrees from Fresno Pacific College and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. She is the author of Becoming Teammates: Teachers and Families as Literacy Partners.
Contact Klassen Endrizzi at (724) 946-7189 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.