Athens State University’s Reading and Literacy Lab will be getting a much- needed upgrade thanks to a $25,000 donation from Listerhill Credit Union. Listerhill’s donation will allow for the purchase and provision of a smart board, books, software, games, journals, assessment tools, technology, and site visits so the Lab can better prepare pre-service teachers for the classroom.
As the leading institution for bachelor’s level teachers in Alabama, Athens State prides itself on ensuring that teacher candidates enter the classroom with the tools they need to succeed. The Athens State University Reading and Literacy Lab is designed to allow teacher candidates a hands‐on approach for teaching reading. With the integration of new technology into K‐12 classrooms and the emergence of virtual school, it is essential that teacher candidates have hands‐on experience with technology before they enter the classroom. The planned upgrades to the Reading Lab will help bridge the gap needed to keep up with the advances in technology necessary to provide this hands-on experience.
Literacy development is also vital to teacher candidates. Based on the Alabama Literacy Act, postsecondary education majors need to be well versed in teaching struggling readers or students reading below grade level. Listerhill’s donation will also fund quarterly workshops on Reading/Literacy Topics to provide additional tools that teacher candidates need to ensure they become effective reading instructors. At each workshop, teacher candidates will gain work-based learning experiences for the best strategies for improving reading/literacy and increasing reading levels for their students. These resources will ensure that teachers and teacher candidates are knowledgeable in teaching reading/literacy to struggling readers, ELL students, and students with dyslexia.
Dr. Jameha Gardner, Associate Professor of Education, said, “According to the Nation’s Report Card in 2019, only 58% of all fourth graders in Alabama were reading on grade level. As a Reading Specialist and professor, it is my goal to ensure that Athens State produces phenomenal reading teachers that will have the knowledge-base and skills that are necessary to help young children become great readers. With the financial assistance and support from Listerhill Credit Union, we can provide more professional development, learning resources, and technology to help our teacher candidates grow and be confident in teaching reading.”
“The College of Education is excited about the impact this much-needed upgrade will have on our teacher candidates and their ability to ignite literacy gains in their current and future students,” said Dr. Lee Vartanian, Dean of the College of Education. “We thank Listerhill for their commitment to improving the lives and opportunities of children through their support of this engaging literacy lab.”
“Listerhill has always supported local schools because education is the building block for improving lives,” said Chris Anderson, Vice President of Marketing at Listerhill Credit Union. “Therefore, an investment into Athens State’s Reading and Literacy Lab, which teaches the teachers, aligns perfectly with our mission.”
Overall, the updates to the Reading Lab will provide hands-on training and experience to an estimated 1,000 teacher candidates and early in-service teachers over five years. In turn, thousands of teacher candidates will be positively impacted and have their level of ‘teaching reading’ improved. The Reading Lab will be located in Chasteen Hall at 161 North Clinton Street, Athens, AL.