Fairfield’s Reading and Language Development Program Awarded $1.5 Million Grant
Fairfield University’s internationally accredited Reading and Language Development program (RLD) directed by Jule McCombes-Tolis, PhD, was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the Grossman Family Foundation to support a three-year expansion of its research arm.
Through Fairfield’s Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP), the Sixth Year Professional Certificate in Reading and Language Development is offered to individuals who have received their master’s in education degree. The 36-credit program provides advanced training for practicing general and special educators and coursework in scientifically based reading, writing and spelling instruction, intervention and remediation practices.
This grant and the Anne E. Fowler Foundation fund a fellowship model for the program that includes options for district-negotiated leaves of absence in order for candidates to engage in a yearlong supervised practicum experience. Anne E. Fowler Fellows are eligible for one of three strands, each of which provides generous tuition benefits, professional association membership benefits and access to comprehensive reading and writing professional development. Upon completion of the program, candidates are prepared to meet the diverse literacy needs of K-12 students. The Anne E. Fowler and Grossman Foundations provided 10 full scholarships last year, its inaugural year, and are funding 15 full scholarships for their incoming class (Fall, 2017).
Fairfield University/Norwalk Public Schools Summer Dyslexia Intervention Clinic
Fairfield’s RLD program and Norwalk Public Schools have also been awarded an $80,000 grant by the Noble Charitable Trust for a collaborative project to offer a regionalized summer Dyslexia Intervention Clinic. The Noble Trust Teachers, Readers and Writers Summer Dyslexia Intervention Clinic will be designed to prepare educators to meet the early intervention and remedial reading and writing needs of children in Grades 1-3 who are at-risk for or have been identified with Dyslexia.
Project partners include Norwalk Public Schools, Eagle Hill Southport School, Literacy How and the Connecticut Writing Project. The program will provide educators from urban and priority partner school districts in Connecticut with specialized training with an emphasis on improving students’ phonological awareness, phonics and fluency skills.
The summer clinic will support the specialized training of 20 urban educators who will provide an estimated 60 children with 90 minutes of daily small group research-based multisensory, diagnostic-prescriptive remedial reading and writing instruction, and will provide 90 minutes of writing workshop instruction three times per week. A children’s book author in residence will join the workshops for three sessions and help students write stories of their own.
Educators will continue their training over the course of the 2017-2018 academic year to meet the requirements for certification by the international flagship organization, Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE). This component of the project will allow for an estimated additional 120 children to be served in 2017-2018.
"The Reading and Language Development program at Fairfield University is fortunate to have received continued financial support from the Noble Charitable Trust, the Grossman Family Foundation, and the Anne E. Fowler Foundation. The support of these foundations and trusts has allowed the RLD program to provide graduate candidates with unparalleled supervised reading practicum experiences in general and remedial reading contexts. These experiences include opportunities for candidates to develop expertise in serving the remedial reading needs of off-track and disabled readers, including readers with Dyslexia," said Jule McCombes-Tolis. She continued, "The program is deeply committed to a mission centered around translating the science of reading into artful practice, and has been fortunate to partner with foundations, trusts, and school districts across Connecticut that are likewise committed to the same."
Recently, Fairfield’s RLD Program was among nine universities nationwide to receive accreditation from the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and its affiliate, the Center for Effective Reading Instruction, for having met the standards outlined in IDA’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading.
The IDA Standards provide a framework for course content in university and other teacher preparation programs, offering research-supported documentation of what teachers ought to know and be able to demonstrate when teaching dyslexic students, struggling readers or the general student population.
Learn more about the RLD Program.