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Westminster professor co-authors book on family-school literacy partnerships

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Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2018

NEW WILMINGTON, PA – Dr. Charlene Klassen Endrizzi, professor of literacy education at Westminster College, recently co-authored a book for classroom teachers about building stronger family-school literacy partnerships.

Written with Dr. Jenny Tuten and Dr. Deborah Jensen, graduate professors at Hunter College, CUNY, their professional development text “Crossing Literacy Bridges: Strategies for Collaborating with Families of Struggling Readers” offers K-8th grade teachers a plethora of avenues for building stronger relationships with children’s first literacy partners: their families.

Klassen Endrizzi’s contributions to the book center around her four-year research inquiry project—Bridges to Reading—at Campbell Elementary School in Campbell, Ohio, where she worked with four kindergarten teachers, 15 Westminster student teachers and more than 65 Campbell children and families to establish literacy bridges between the school and its students.

This family-school partnership with African American, Greek, Puerto Rican, Slovak and Italian children and families emphasized the need to build upon the literacy funds of knowledge families bring to school, which teachers tend to overlook.

“The heart of our Bridges to Reading partnership evolved from continual conversations with kindergarten families and children, who risked revealing their vibrant but often hidden out-of-school literacy lives to us,” Klassen Endrizzi said.

Through family literacy gatherings, photo projects, newsletters, surveys and interviews, Klassen Endrizzi and the teachers at Campbell—Vicki Tekac, Lisa Jackson, Nick Glatzer and Roxanne Tarcy—discovered rich, untapped literacy knowledge that became the foundation for classroom reading engagements.

Klassen Endrizzi and her co-authors Tuten and Jensen have co-presented their research on family-school literacy partnerships at numerous national and international conferences since 2007.

“I hope our book’s five principles for interacting with families—trust, collaborate, respect, adapt, celebrate—encourage teachers to explore their own avenues for reaching out to essential learning partners. By taking simple risks, teachers can build bridges of understanding in order to foster more thoughtful, engaged literacy learners,” said Klassen Endrizzi.

Westminster College’s Hoon Faculty Development Award, the Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research and the School of Education provided financial support for this inquiry.

Copies of the book are available at the Westminster Bookstore and through Rowman and Littlefield Publishers at

At top, Dr. Charlene Klassen Endrizzi, second from right, with 2015 education graduates, from left, Olivia Hvizdos, Elizabeth Ishman Streiner, Ariana Carr and Marina Rozick. At bottom, Campbell teachers, student teachers and families who participated in the Bridges to Reading project.