Charlene Klassen Endrizzi
I arrived at Westminster College in 1993 after teaching fourth through sixth graders for ten years in central California. My Hmong, Lao, Cambodian, African American and Latino students inspired me to enroll in a doctoral program at the University of Arizona in 1989 where I studied critical literacy and global children’s literature with two generative professors, Kathy Short and Yetta Goodman.
Currently I teach Literacy courses for Early Childhood Education preservice teachers and graduate students in our Reading Specialist program. Besides teaching, I also hold the position of Faculty Development Officer. I work alongside 112 passionate, innovative Westminster College faculty, supporting them in their teaching and research endeavors.
Literacy has not always been my passion. In fact while in elementary school in Clearbrook, British Columbia, Canada, I hated reading out loud in front of the class. Yet spending time with Nancy Drew, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Dr. Seuss or the Bobbsey Twins while at home with my two sisters and parents was a delightful way to relax.
Teaching became an avenue for exploring this dis-tasteful aspect of school life. I completed my B.A. and M.A. at Fresno Pacific College in Fresno, California, while teaching many English language learners. Three profound mentors, Drs. Jean Fennacy, Bonnie Freeman, and David Freeman kept nudging me to explore literacy through a constructivist lens.
In the 1980s as a new teacher in my early twenties, I feared parents. In fact I actively sought to avoid them. Today my research on family-school partnerships enables me to explore this uncertain yet generative aspect of teaching, alongside many preservice teachers, graduate students, children and families in western Pennsylvania.
I am grateful to countless elementary readers and their families who shared their rich hidden literacy lives with me over the last twenty years through my work at Westminster College. Classroom teachers like Karen Tarka Jones, Diana Duncan, Laura Harper Niche and Pam Redfoot helped me uncover the power of valuing each child’s first literacy partner, their families. Our struggles and countless successes are outlined in Becoming Teammates: Teachers and Families as Literacy Partners, 2008, N.C.T.E. https://secure.ncte.org/store/becoming-teammates
My current research focuses on working with preservice teachers in diverse school settings as we seek to build bridges of understanding between teachers and families. One recent successful venture is an African American Read In held each February, where preservice teachers share newly published African American children’s literature with diverse student populations, their families and classroom teachers.
This past summer I spent several weeks in Israel, exploring a research project involving Israeli and American mothers of Kindergarten children. While in northern Israel, colleagues from Western Galilee College helped me discover a wealth of Israeli children’s literature, which I recently shared through an international children’s literature website, Worlds of Words. You can find my four blog posts of Israeli children’s books at http://wowlit.org/blog/2012/08/27/israeli-childrens-books-forming-a-bridge/ , August 2012, WOW Currents.
My ardent supporter and husband, George Endrizzi, a middle school principal, keeps me grounded through his constant questions and efforts to pull me away from work. Our son Bryce, currently a sixth grader and sports enthusiast, continues to be my provocative literacy learning partner.