TAMIU Reading Center Funding End Jeopardizes Program

TAMIU Reading Center Funding End Jeopardizes Program

The most successful reading program offered by Texas A&M International University will soon close a remarkable chapter in community outreach as federal funding for the program ends.

Offered by the TAMIU Eduardo M. Hinojosa Reading Research Center, the program is directed by the College of Education and supports the development of literacy in linguistically and culturally diverse students.

Funding support has come from federal grants from the Department of Education to the tune of $461,000 over four years.  Funding will terminate August 31.

Center director Dr. Barbara Greybeck said the program’s likely end is bittersweet.

“I can personally say that we have made a remarkable difference in the lives and futures of over 750 students and 160 teachers and aspiring teachers in our four years of operation. Whether we measure this in teachers who are able to teach more effectively, students who earn higher reading scores or in the enhanced futures of a single new reader, we have made a difference,” Dr. Greybeck said.

The Center’s accomplishments have been dramatic, she said, noting:

  • Student scores have risen each semester with an average student progress of 13.5 months after 17 hours of intervention in Fall 2004. Average progress for spring clinic students this year was 14.4 in 15.3 hours.
  • Individual students continue to make dramatic progress such as the student who was a virtual non-reader entering the program in 2003, currently reading at a 7th grade instructional level or the student who began the semester at below pre-primer and advanced to 4th grade reading level in one semester.
  • Going from working with a single school at Laredo Independent School District children with 30 students to a contract for six schools and 180 students.

She added that the Center’s models of teaching and learning have the potential to be replicated elsewhere and she is hopeful that the program will live on.

TAMIU president Dr. Ray Keck said the potential closure does not diminish the program’s successes and importance.

“This is a prime example of a University using its research strengths to help address the needs of its service communities. Teachers benefited and students are better prepared to reap the rewards of a brighter future through enhanced reading. We’re hopeful that the program’s successes can be replicated again in the future and that additional funding might be forthcoming to continue the program’s important work,” Dr. Keck said.

Dr. Humberto Gonzalez, dean of the TAMIU College of Education, concurred.

“This program represented a remarkable teaching and learning opportunity for us all.  Whatever the program’s eventual fate, we can proudly say that the teachers that have been a part of this program will help to insure that it lives on at campuses throughout Laredo,”  Dr. Gonzalez said.

At a ceremony last week for children completing this semester’s program, parents beamed with joy as their sons and daughters showed off their new reading skills by reading illustrated books like El Gusano Comelibros and Green Eggs and Ham.

Associate director Gloria Canseco said it was difficult to tell the parents of the Center’s probable closing.

“I would say there was a good deal of melancholy in the room – for all of us. This program has changed the lives of these parents’ children. They remain hopeful that something will change and that the program will be able to continue to help their children and others,” Canseco said.

Despite the Center’s likely closing, there is a silver lining to the dark clouds.

Private funding has been provided to assist in presenting its Summer Literacy Camps, a popular feature for children entering 2nd to 5th grade that has been offered for the past four years.

International Bank of Commerce has sponsored one camp, while Laredoans Tony and Tani Sanchez have sponsored six additional camps. Should enough parents express an interest, a final camp will be offered at TAMIU Reading Clinic at a cost of $150 per child.

The camps are scheduled during various hours in the months of June and July. Those eligible for the camps include students entering 2nd to 5th grades and school principals will select students. 

The camp locations include Concord Hills Community Center, Larga Vista Community Center, Centeno Elementary School, Santo Niño Elementary School and Salvador García Middle School at the Texas Center Temporary Building. These camps are provided at no cost to participants, but each camp is limited to 25 students.

The TAMIU camp will be held from June 6 to June 23 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

For additional information, contact the Center at 326-2923. Center hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday. To add children to camp lists, school principals at area schools may also be contacted.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu