— Judith Herb College of Education | UToledo News

Categories

Archives

Resources

Categories

Archives

Resources

— Judith Herb College of Education

Education Professor Named American Psychological Association Fellow

Dr. Revathy Kumar, professor of educational psychology in The University of Toledo Judith Herb College of Education, has been elected a Fellow of the American Psychological Association.

The appointment will be effective in January.

Kumar

With more than 121,000 members, the American Psychological Association is the leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States.

Kumar joined the UToledo faculty in 2001. Her research focuses on social and cultural processes involved in constructing a sense of self and identity among adolescents in culturally diverse societies. Of particular interest are the roles of teachers, teacher-education programs, schools, communities and families in facilitating minority and immigrant adolescents’ development, learning and motivation.

Her work has been published in education and psychology journals, and she has authored and co-authored several book chapters. In addition, Kumar has given presentations about her research around the world.

“I am honored to be elected a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. It is humbling to be nominated and elected by scholars whose work I respect and admire,” Kumar said. “I also want to acknowledge the support I have received over the last 20 years from my colleagues and administrators at The University of Toledo to engage in the kind of work I love doing.

“Now I am even more energized to collaborate with teachers to conduct intervention research to improve the academic and psychological wellbeing of students, particularly those from minority and immigrant backgrounds,” she added.

“We are extremely proud Dr. Revathy Kumar is receiving Fellow recognition within the prestigious American Psychological Association,” Dr. Raymond Witte, dean of the Judith Herb College of Education, said. “Few within the profession receive this distinction, and Dr. Kumar and her work are indeed worthy of the honor.”

UToledo Professor Publishes Thought-Provoking ‘Black Professor, White University’

Discrimination, marginalization, exclusion, non-promotion — these are some of the issues faced by the character Dr. Darrell Thomas, an African-American professor, when he joins the faculty at the fictitious Southwest Achval University.

In the new book, “Black Professor, White University,” Dr. Sakui W.G. Malakpa illuminates the racism that exists in the world of academia.

“I aspired to bring to the reader’s attention the fact that students, staff, professors and administrators of color in higher education face daunting challenges, especially in predominantly white institutions,” the professor of special education in The University of Toledo Judith Herb College of Education said. “The work also covers issues of sexism, historical facts and concepts such as critical race theory and white privilege.”

Malakpa published the 298-page book in May through Mill City Press Inc. in Maitland, Fla. “Black Professor, White University” is available through Amazon in print and on Kindle.

The main characters in the book are Dr. Darrell Thomas and his wife, Vanessa, who join Southwest Achval University to teach economics and African-American history, respectively. Both struggle to fit in at the predominantly white school. From renting an apartment for their family to unfair teaching ratings, they encounter discrimination. Undaunted, they persevere and work hard for promotions and tenure.

“While attending professional conferences, professors and administrators of color often informally discussed their experiences in their respective institutions. The differences but mainly similarities of those experiences intrigued me,” Malakpa said. “Likewise, I know people of all races who work in varied institutions of higher education. Talking with them informally also gave me food for thought.”

He added, “Hearing other people’s experiences is reassuring in that one does not feel alone.”

Malakpa

Making more aware of those experiences has never been more important.

“As a number of readers already have told me, ‘Black Professor, White University’ comes at the right time as the world reverberates with clamors of Black Lives Matter,” Malakpa said. “In an entertaining yet educative manner, readers will learn that issues of marginalization, discrimination, non-promotion and the like exist in higher education institutions, which ought to be a part of the solution, not the problem. The work underscores this point repeatedly despite the existence of positions — director for diversity, etc. — and centers for people of color in higher education institutions — like a center for diversity.”

The work also offers suggestions for promoting, enhancing and maintaining diversity in higher education.

“As a professor of color and one who is blind, there’s no doubting of the fact that, after more than three decades, I have had my own experiences and challenges,” Malakpa said. “However, ‘Black Professor, White University’ is based less on my experiences and more on materials from the literature and the experiences of other professors of color. This is why I am currently writing a nonfictional work on the same topic.”

His own story is a page-turner.

Born in Wozi, Liberia, Malakpa lost his sight when he was a teenager; he contracted onchocerciasis or river blindness from parasites transmitted by black flies. He studied at the School for the Blind and then enrolled in Albert Academy in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He headed to the United States to continue his education at Florida State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in three years and a master’s degree in one year. Malakpa then earned a second master’s degree and a doctorate in education from Harvard University.

In 1986, he came to The University of Toledo as an assistant professor of special education. Malakpa was promoted to associate professor in 1990 and professor in 1998. Along the way, he earned a juris doctor from the UToledo College of Law while conducting research on special education and international studies, and teaching undergraduate- and graduate-level courses.

“In general, Toledo has been a great place to live for more than three decades, but the best part of my work is the students. They give me not only reason, but also joy, enthusiasm and vitality to go to the University,” Malakpa said. “I enjoy working with students. Evidently, they enjoy working with me, too, as I have been voted both outstanding adviser and teacher; very few professors at the University have won both awards, and for that, I thank my students with all my heart.”

UToledo Student to Study in Spain as Recipient of National Scholarship

Ever since she was a middle schooler participating in state writing competitions, Terri Draper knew that language would play an important role in her life.

Now she will have the chance to travel abroad for the first time and immerse herself in the language and culture of Spain as a 2020 recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.

Draper

Named in honor of late New York congressman Benjamin A. Gilman, the scholarship provides students the opportunity to study abroad and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Since its inception in 2001, more than 31,000 students have received the Gilman scholarship to study in 151 countries.

“Without this scholarship, this experience wouldn’t be possible,” said Draper, who is pursuing both a UToledo bachelor of education degree specializing in adolescent and young adult education, as well as a bachelor of arts degree in English. “I would have to work for years to afford it, all without the education, programs and support I’m receiving at UToledo.”

Draper expects to receive her teaching degree next year, followed by her English degree in 2022. After receiving her diplomas, she envisions herself teaching high school English and writing in an urban, public school setting, where she can use her study abroad experience to bring unique perspectives to the classroom.

The Toledo native attended high school at Toledo School for the Arts (TSA), where she became acquainted with UToledo from a very early stage. TSA focuses on providing its students a college-preparatory academic curriculum and an intense visual and performing arts environment. As an eighth-grader, she was able to explore the UToledo campus and meet students and faculty.

Originally, Draper was scheduled to study abroad in summer 2020. However, due to travel restrictions and other complications from the COVID-19 pandemic, her trip is now planned for summer 2021. She will study at Universidad de Granada in Grenada, Spain, and will live with a local family for the entire four to six weeks.

“I knew from the moment I met Terri that she was a very determined individual with a lot to offer the world,” said Chessica Oetjens, program coordinator in UToledo’s Office of Competitive Fellowships. “We are very proud of her accomplishment and hope we can encourage more UToledo students to apply in the future.”

Draper suggests she was successful in being awarded the scholarship because she took an unconventional approach in her application — focusing on what she will do here at home, rather than during her travels.

“I want to bring Spanish language and literature to classes I teach in the future, so my students are exposed to other cultures and perspectives,” Draper said. “I remember learning so much about American and white European literature in school. I think it would be better for students to hear about Latin American, African and other cultures earlier in their education.”

Education Alumni Offer Creative Tips to Keep Students Engaged While Learning Remotely

During the recent transition to remote learning for the world’s schoolchildren, the resourcefulness and resilience of teachers has been on full display.

As parents and other caregivers have taken on the role of at-home teacher during the COVID-19 pandemic, alumni of The University of Toledo Judith Herb College of Education have turned to technology to share tools, techniques and best practices to help students finish the school year strong.

The college is sharing the advice of its alumni through a Teacher Chronicles series on its Facebook page.

“At first, it was slightly overwhelming, because I teach three sections of a project-based anatomy class,” said Lauren Ovalle, who received a bachelor’s degree in adolescent and young adult education in 2018 and is a life sciences teacher at Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, Tenn.

Lauren Ovalle, who received a bachelor’s degree in adolescent and young adult education from UToledo and is a life sciences teacher at Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, Tenn., says it is important to remember that remote learning is “uncharted territory for everyone involved.”

“What I keep reminding myself is that this is uncharted territory for everyone involved: students, teachers, parents and administrators. If I can go into every session positive, and send my students and their parents positive communication, that will only make this experience more enjoyable for all of us.”

Flexibility is key as teachers adjust lesson planning, grading and basic communication. Videoconferencing tools offered by Zoom and Google, as well as old-fashioned planning and expectation-setting, are helping navigate these unprecedented times of learning from home for both teachers and students.

“I like to tell them at the beginning of the week what to expect from me,” said Patrice Brock, who graduated from UToledo’s Licensure and Master’s Program in adolescent and young adult education in 2013 and is a science teacher at Central Catholic High School in Toledo. “While we’re posting to several classes ourselves, they’re receiving posts from six to seven classes. It’s new to all of us, so as much framework and structure as we can give them will be helpful.”

Kaitlyn Bergman, a 2018 alumna with a bachelor’s degree in adolescent and young adult education and math teacher at Central Catholic, echoes that predictability helps to recreate the rhythm and pace of a normal school day as much as possible.

“Something that’s worked well for my students is giving them a weekly calendar,” Bergman said. “I’ve had students tell me that it’s more like what we do every day in class.”

Just as important as the lessons and curriculum, however, is the need to maintain a personal connection with students.

Adam Fineske, a two-time UToledo alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in education and master’s degree in educational leadership and administration in 2004, is superintendent for Ottawa Hills Local Schools and advises teachers to be flexible. “We’re focusing more on connectedness versus content.”

“This is what teaching is all about,” said Adam Fineske, who received a bachelor’s degree in education in 2000 and a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration in 2004, both from UToledo.

He is superintendent for Ottawa Hills Local Schools, blocks from the University’s Main Campus. “When you put lessons together, they’re not always going to be perfect, and you’re going to have to make some changes, adjustments, and really do what’s best for your kids.”

“We’re focusing more on connectedness versus content.”

One positive takeaway from the coronavirus pandemic taking place in an age of digital living and interactive media? It’s still possible to see your students’ faces.

“I’m very thankful we have these capabilities, so we can still see our students during this time,” said Cara Johnson, a UToledo alumna with a 2011 special education intervention specialist bachelor’s degree who is a special education teacher at Fassett Junior High in Oregon, Ohio. “That’s the one thing I’m really missing.”

Virtual Job Fair Connects Rockets to Education Employers April 22

As part of the University’s campus-wide response to the coronavirus pandemic, the annual UTeach Job Fair will happen virtually from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 22.

Virtual interviews are being scheduled with education employers from around the country with the Career Fair Plus app where users can view available positions, learn more about organizations, and “favorite” the employers they would like to meet with. The app is also integrated with LinkedIn and includes a built-in interview platform to assist with interview scheduling and availability.

“We’re excited to offer our students, alumni and employer partners this opportunity to connect,” said Abigail Sullivan, marketing, communications and recruitment specialist in the Judith Herb College of Education. “While we would have loved to host an in-person event, we’re confident the virtual format will match the right talents with the best careers.”

Interview times are still available. College of Education students and alumni wishing to participate are encouraged to download Career Fair Plus (available on the App Store and Google Play), create a profile, and sign up for interview times before 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 21, to allow enough time for employers to prepare. Full business professional attire is recommended.

“Virtual interviews are very similar to traditional in-person interviews,” said Laura Jane Moser, events coordinator with UToledo Career Services. “It’s best to dress, prepare and conduct yourself as though you are meeting face to face.”

If an interview cannot be scheduled April 22, interested students and alumni are encouraged to contact the hiring company directly.

For more information, visit utoledo.edu/education/jobfair.

Fellows Named for MAC Leadership Program

Four UToledo faculty members have been selected to participate in the third year of the Mid-American Conference Academic Leadership Development Program.

The program was created to identify, develop, prepare and advance faculty as leaders in the colleges and universities that are members of the Mid-American Conference. Fellows participating in the program have the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and experience by working closely with select administrators from other colleges and universities in the MAC.

“We are happy The University of Toledo participates in this worthwhile program that helps faculty members reach their leadership potential,” Dr. Amy Thompson, vice provost for faculty affairs and professor of public health, said.

Fellows for the 2019-20 academic year are:

• Dr. Jonathan Bossenbroek, professor of environmental sciences and director of the Office of Competitive Fellowships and Undergraduate Research;

• Dr. Maria Coleman, professor and chair of chemical engineering and associate director of the Polymer Institute;

• Dr. Scott Molitor, professor of bioengineering and senior associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Engineering; and

• Dr. Rebecca Schneider, professor of science and teacher education, and associate dean of graduate studies in the Judith Herb College of Education.

All tenured faculty with experience in administrative leadership and service are eligible to apply for the MAC Academic Leadership Development Program. Candidates submitted a letter of support from their dean, as well as an application and curriculum vitae for consideration.

“Our Fellows will work alongside UToledo leaders to learn from their experience,” Thompson said. “They also will benefit from working with administrators and peers from other MAC institutions.”

All MAC Academic Leadership Development Program Fellows will attend one three-day workshop each semester. Topics to be addressed include budgeting, conflict resolution, accreditation and accountability.

“This program allows our Fellows a chance to prepare for leadership positions while experiencing the challenges and rewards of institutional service,” Thompson said. “This is a great opportunity to advance leadership for our UToledo faculty members.”

Read more about the MAC Academic Leadership Development Program on the Office of the Provost website.

Families Set to Celebrate Commencement Dec. 14

More than 2,000 students at The University of Toledo will graduate at commencement ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 14, in Savage Arena.

The University is holding two ceremonies to include both undergraduate and graduate students from each of the colleges.

A total of 2,070 degrees will be awarded: 1,474 bachelor’s degrees, 426 master’s degrees, 104 doctoral degrees, 41 associate’s degrees, 15 education specialist degrees and 10 graduate certificates.

The 9 a.m. ceremony will recognize all Ph.D. candidates and graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters; Engineering; Judith Herb College of Education; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The 1 p.m. ceremony will recognize undergraduate and graduate students receiving degrees from the colleges of Business and Innovation; Health and Human Services; Nursing; University College; and Medicine and Life Sciences.

Commencement is always a time to celebrate with family. Their support is critical to achieving success. For several students walking across the stage this year, family was literally at their side for the journey.

Lori and Jordan Boyer in 2001 and 2019

At 48 years old, Lori Boyer is set to take the stage and grasp her diploma on the same day as her son, Jordan.

Lori, a preschool teacher, started taking classes at UToledo in 1990, but stopped to raise her three children.

After returning in January to cross the finish line, the UToledo employee at the Early Learning Center is graduating from University College with a bachelor’s degree in an individualized program of early childhood education and educational leadership. Her son is graduating from the College of Engineering with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering technology.

“I am proud to share this special moment with my oldest son,” Boyer said. “It’s important to me to prove to all of my children that you can accomplish anything no matter what point you are in life. I accomplished something I set out to do a long time ago, and it has the potential to take me in different directions in my career.”

Fall commencement also is a family affair for a brother-and-sister duo who worked side by side as undergraduates in the same exercise biology research lab.

Nicole and Dylan Sarieh

Dylan and Nicole Sarieh, two-thirds of a set of fraternal triplets, both chose to study exercise science as pre-med students in the College of Health and Human Services, while their brother studies business at UToledo.

Together, Dylan and Nicole researched the molecular regulation of skeletal muscle growth under the guidance of Dr. Thomas McLoughlin, associate professor in the School of Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, in order to help clinicians develop ways to help patients grow stronger after suffering from muscle loss.

“The opportunity to do real, meaningful, hands-on work in the lab definitely built our confidence and opened our eyes to what is important,” Dylan said about his undergraduate research experience. “My sister and I both plan to next go to medical school. She wants to be a dermatologist, and I want to be a general physician.”

“Whether at home, in the classroom or in the lab, I always had someone I could lean on who was tackling the same challenges,” Nicole said. “Putting our two brains together — even during car rides — made a big difference in our success.”

For some graduates, they found love and are starting their own family.

McKenna Wirebaugh completed a co-op at the BP Whiting Refinery in Whiting, Ind. This photo shows Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.

McKenna Wirebaugh, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, met her soon-to-be husband at UToledo. Both she and Travis Mang, her fiancé, will receive degrees Saturday.

Turns out, planning their upcoming wedding is the only item left on the to-do list. Wirebaugh secured a full-time job as a process engineer at BP’s Cherry Point Refinery in Blaine, Wash., located about 40 minutes south of Vancouver. She is scheduled to start her new job in March, about a month after her honeymoon.

“I chose to go to UToledo because of the mandatory co-op program in engineering,” Wirebaugh said. “It guaranteed I would have a paycheck while in school and build my resumé. I’m grateful for my decision because it ended up launching my career.”

Wirebaugh completed four co-op rotations with BP while at UToledo. She also helped build a water purification unit that was sent to Ecuador through the nonprofit organization Clean Water for the World.

Her favorite experience as a student in the Jesup Scott Honors College was a class focusing on creativity. For a group project on the dangers of cell-phone use, they brought in a PlayStation 2 system and challenged students to text and drive on Mario Kart without crashing.

“My professors have truly cared about me inside and outside of my academic career,” Wirebaugh said. “I don’t see the friendships I’ve made here ending anytime soon.”

In the event of inclement weather, the approximately two-hour commencement ceremonies will be moved to Sunday, Dec. 15.

For those unable to attend, the ceremonies will stream live at video.utoledo.edu.

For more information, go to the UToledo commencement website.

Graduate and Professional Program Fair Slated for Oct. 30

Looking to advance your career? Want to learn more about continuing your education? Stop by the Graduate and Professional Program Fair Wednesday, Oct. 30.

The event will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium.

Attendees can meet with representatives from colleges and programs; learn ways to fund graduate education; and start the graduate program application process.

On hand will be representatives from all UToledo colleges: Arts and Letters; Business and Innovation; Engineering; Health and Human Services; Judith Herb College of Education; Law; Medicine and Life Sciences; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; Graduate Studies; Jesup Scott Honors College; and University College.

Go to the Graduate and Professional Program Fair website and register.

The first 100 to attend the event will receive an application fee waiver; J.D., M.D. and Pharm.D. applications not included.

For more information, email graduateinquiry@utoledo.edu.

Day of Giving College Events and Giving Stations

UToledo’s third annual Day of Giving will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 15 and 16.

The 36-hour campaign, “Rocket Forward: You Launch Lives,” will begin at midnight Oct. 15 and end at noon Oct. 16.

Several events are planned Tuesday, Oct. 15:

Day of Giving Fall Festival — 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Centennial Mall

• Student organizations will host booths with games.

• The Rocket Marching Band and UToledo cheerleaders will perform.

• President Sharon L. Gaber will greet students from noon to 12:30 p.m.

• The festival also will offer a dog-petting station, corn hole games, a basketball contest, pie in the face, pumpkin bowling and pumpkin golf.

College of Business and Innovation — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Savage & Associates Business Complex Second-Floor Atrium

• Giving station with ice cream.

Judith Herb College of Education — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Gillham Hall

• Giving station with popcorn.

College of Health and Human Services — 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 16, 8 to 10:30 a.m. in the Health and Human Services Building Atrium

• Giving station with popcorn, other snacks and prizes.

Jesup Scott Honors College — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside MacKinnon Hall

• Giving station with snacks.

College of Law — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Law Center Patio

• Fall Fest hosted by the Student Bar Association: Donate to decorate mini-pumpkins; play corn hole, ring toss and horseshoes; and eat kettle corn, caramel apples and cider.

Student Recreation Center — 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

• Giving station; popcorn from 2 to 6 p.m.

University College — 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 16, 9 to 10:30 a.m. in Rocket Hall

• Giving station with popcorn, snacks, and a chance to spin the wheel to win prizes with a donation.

The University of Toledo Medical Center — starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 15 and 16, in the Four Seasons Bistro

• Giving station in the cafeteria.

Colleges of Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and Medicine and Life Sciences — 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Collier Building Lobby

College of Nursing will host a Day of Giving party with a giving station, snacks, a pumpkin decorating contest, music and entertainment. President Sharon L. Gaber and Health Science Campus deans will be on hand for Day of Giving selfie photos with students, faculty and staff.

Give online at rocketforward.utoledo.edu Oct. 15-16 and share your UToledo story on social media at #RocketForward.

Grad Student Keeps Children ‘Bookin’ Through the Summer’ Using Mystery Readers, Social Media

On a 90-degree day during one of the last precious weeks of summer break, nearly 30 children gathered at the Bedford Public Library to read together, sing, dance and scavenger hunt.

“The worst thing about going to the library is when I have to leave the library,” said 7-year-old Gunnar Talley, who is entering second grade at Monroe Road Elementary School in Bedford, Mich.

Amy Kochendoerfer, UToledo Ph.D. student, read “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” by Iza Trapani to children participating in “Bookin’ Through the Summer” at the Bedford Public Library in Michigan.

That’s music to Amy Kochendoerfer’s ears.

The Ph.D. student in The University of Toledo Judith Herb College of Education and assistant principal of Monroe Road Elementary School is focused on getting and keeping children hooked on books through her innovative, 12-week summer reading program, which debuted 11 weeks ago.

“This is an incredible turnout today — almost half of the children participating in our program — because we’re competing with football and cheerleading practices and end-of-summer vacations,” Kochendoerfer said. “Every week we’ve averaged about 40 children at the library.”

She and Dawn Henderson, a speech pathologist for Monroe County, spent the summer piloting their program to help the youngest children at Monroe Road Elementary School avoid the “summer slide,” the term used to describe how reading and academic skills regress over summer break.

The two raised $4,300 from organizations in Bedford to fund “Bookin’ Through The Summer,” an intervention project blending free books, mystery readers, parents, social media and library adventures.

“We want them to go back to school ready to start at the point they left off,” Henderson said. “This has been a true community-wide effort.”

It stems from Michigan’s Read by Grade Three Law, which goes into effect this school year.

“I created this new spin on how to keep kids reading over the summer because the state of Michigan passed a law that if a child can’t read by third grade, he or she will be retained and have to repeat third grade,” Kochendoerfer said. “They need to catch that bug for books to keep growing, so we created a way to turn reading from a boring task into something fun and interactive.”

Talley is one of the 68 children in kindergarten, first, second and third grades participating in the program who received a book every week in the mail with a flyer for parents outlining suggestions to make reading the book together more engaging.

Aside from the optional meetings once a week at the library, the key ingredients that make this recipe sing are Facebook and mystery readers.

The organizers created a private Facebook page where parents interacted and shared photos and videos of their children’s thoughts or crafts stemming from the books, including puppet shows.

Mystery readers from throughout the community also popped up regularly on the page reading and discussing the book of the week.

“Everyone we approached was excited to shoot a video of themselves reading the book and talking about the book in order to help keep the children motivated. The mystery readers sent us their videos, we posted them, and the parents sat down and watched them with their kids,” Kochendoerfer said. “We had varsity football players, cheerleaders, our state representative, a sheriff’s deputy and teachers reading to our children on social media. The buy-in from the community was incredible.”

Especially from the parents.

“These moms and dads understand the importance of literacy, but we know how difficult it can be in the summer when you’re out of the school routine,” Henderson said. “They took this opportunity to help their children discover the love of reading by sitting down with them and modeling these weekly habits.”

Kochendoerfer, who is already coming up with creative ways to enhance the project next summer, believes this program also allowed parents to model responsible social media interaction.

“You see so much how social media is a negative influence on children, but our summer reading program was all about encouragement,” Kochendoerfer said. “Kids are able to contribute and share their ideas through their parents in a forum that is not threatening. Our secret group is a safe environment to receive immediate, supportive feedback. That’s critical.”

“Amy’s work to encourage children to have fun and enjoy reading books together is yielding great results,” said Dr. Susanna Hapgood, associate professor in the UToledo Department of Curriculum and Instruction. “We know even just 10 to 15 minutes a day of reading to children can give them a boost in terms of vocabulary knowledge and motivation for reading that has long-lasting repercussions.”

Though the data comparing student testing results from the end of the last school year to the beginning of this school year aren’t available yet, Gunnar Talley’s dad already calls the program a success.

“This experience is helping my son because it’s not such a drudgery to get him to read anymore,” Edward Talley said. “It still can sometimes be a battle, but not what it used to be.”