Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Twenty-one Westminster College elementary education majors participated in the 22nd National African American Read-In Feb. 23 at Farrell Elementary School.
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. Westminster pre-service teachers selected books by African American authors to share with students in grades one-six. Each classroom received a copy of the book that was read, donated through funding from Westminster's Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.
"During the read-in, I could feel the students' cultural pride," said junior Genevieve Sieckowski. "They felt valued and loved."
Seniors Jenisa Jeblee and Lauren Ritter led far-ranging discussions on questions from fourth-graders that included "Why have blacks and whites not been viewed as equal in the U.S.?"
"Children can teach us so much," said junior Jessica Pardee. "We just have to be willing to listen."
In addition to current Westminster students, several Westminster alumni participated: Farrell Elementary literacy coaches Nicole Stabile Lombardi and Valerie Morrison organized the read-in in collaboration with Klassen Endrizzi; Japraunika Wright is elementary assistant principal; and Carole Borkowski is elementary principal.
Klassen Endrizzi noted the contrast between the experiences of recent Westminster guest speaker Jonathan Kozol in the 1960s and this read-in 46 years later.
"In his first year of teaching in Boston, Kozol wanted his African American fourth-graders to know and love black authors, so he shared the work of Langston Hughes," Klassen Endrizzi said. "The following day, he was fired. Today, our Westminster students went to Farrell with similar intentions and received rave reviews from students, teachers, and administrators."
"We have grown as a nation, yet racial tension still exists," Klassen Endrizzi added. "Our pre-service teachers offered a powerful demonstration of educators consciously choosing to share children's books representing marginalized people outside mainstream America."
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.
About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College ranks first in the nation as "Best College for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," according to Forbes.com. Westminster is a top tier liberal arts college, a national leader in graduation rate performance, and a "Great School, Great Price," according to U.S. News Best Colleges guide. Westminster ranked 38th among liberal arts colleges, according to the Washington Monthly College Guide, and is one of the most affordable national liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 373 Colleges" and "Best in the Northeast" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.
Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 41 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus. Visit www.westminster.edu/advantage to view "Advantage: Westminster" A Strategic Plan 2010-2020.