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Westminster College Early Childhood Education Majors Participated in African American Read-In in Farrell

Posted on Wednesday, April 9, 2014

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - Twenty-one Westminster College early childhood education/special education pre-service teachers participated in the 25th National African- American Read-In at Farrell Elementary School in February.

The students are enrolled in a literacy methods 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.  Klassen Endrizzi selected books by African-American authors that the Westminster pre-service teachers shared with students in kindergarten and grades one through four.  Each classroom received a copy of the book that was read, donated through funding from Westminster's Drinko Center for Experiential Learning and The Grable Foundation.

"This year I chose to shift our focus toward sharing recently published multicultural books containing a social justice message," Klassen Endrizzi said. "I wanted our Westminster students and Farrell children to collaboratively explore books intent on generating an awareness of political, social and cultural issues that impact our lives. Students purposefully developed interactive read aloud lesson plans designed to evoke thoughtful discussions.

Student Josh Beistel chose to explore Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down with fourth-graders, which resulted in his awareness to listen closely to children.

"Students do not always get the chance to say how they feel or what they think at home or at school. If teachers give students the chance to open up in different ways, it could make a world of difference," said Beistel.

Beistel continued, "When students explore books about how life is different outside of their communities, it lets their minds break free from their own lives and moves them into seeing how others could be living in worse or better conditions."

"Many of our students obtain teaching positions in diverse schools; therefore they need to begin working with diverse student populations now," Klassen Endrizzi said. "Additionally, in an educational era focused incessantly on test results, pre-service teachers need opportunities to ponder the broader goals of teaching by initiating meaningful conversations around issues that touch the lives of children."

Joining Westminster students as guest readers in other classrooms were Farrell Elementary Principal Japraunika Wright M `04 and her mother, Jeannette Hubbard, Westminster's director of diversity services. Lora Adams-King M `07, Farrell superintendent, also participated. Additional organizational support came from Valerie Morrison M `06.

Contact Klassen Endrizzi at 724-946-7189 or email for more information. 

A Westminster student shares a book with students at Farrell Elementary School during African-American Read-In Day.
A Westminster student works with an elementary student one-on-one during African-American Read-In Day.
Westminster College students/staff and Farrell staff participate in African-American Read-In Day.