Saturday, Aug 17, 2019

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Jan Richardson

National presenter and literacy consultant, Dr. Jan Richardson (center), collaborates with teachers who attended the conference.

Photographer: Daniel Rogerson

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Attendees from three states participate in The Patton College’s Stevens Literacy Center’s first Literacy Conference

The Patton College of Education hosted its first annual Literacy Conference at the Edward Stevens Literacy Center in McCracken Hall on April 8, with 75 people gathering to discuss literary instruction. The conference, which lasted eight hours, was organized by the Stevens Literacy Center and sponsored by the Helen Mansfield Robinson Jobe Fund for Reading and Language Arts.

“The Literacy Conference was truly a great success,” said Dr. Julie Francis, director of the Edward Stevens Literacy Center. “I'm so glad that we were able to work with so many people in The Patton College of Education to host an event that will improve literacy, reading, and language arts in Southeast Ohio and beyond. I believe this will be a popular, beneficial, and well-attended event for years to come."

The Stevens Literacy Center – founded in 1997 by Dr. Edward W. Stevens, Jr., a distinguished professor of history and philosophy of education – is the parent organization for the Helen M. Robinson Center for Reading, a community tutoring center. The Center for Reading was named for another distinguished Ohio University alum, Helen Mansfield Robinson Jobe, who was born in Athens, Ohio, in 1906 and graduated from OHIO in 1926. Her work and writing in the education and reading fields span more than 60 years, and she is best known, perhaps, for publishing the "Dick and Jane New Basic Readers" in 1962-65.

The Literacy Center and Center for Reading are natural partners.

“The Stevens Literacy Center focuses on improving lives by researching, developing, and promoting literacy across the lifespan,” said Francis. “The professional staff seeks and secures external funds to design and implement applied research projects that create solutions for issues of low-level literacy and language development. This work supports The Patton College of Education and Ohio University missions.”

Dr. Connie Patterson, assistant dean for Academic Engagement and Outreach, opened the conference by welcoming participants to the newly renovated McCracken Hall. Attendees included Patton College students and faculty, as well as teachers and education specialists from Ohio, West Virginia, and Indiana.

“It was so wonderful to host the conference in the new McCracken Hall,” said Francis. “We were able to highlight many of the building’s aesthetic features, including the third-floor patio, which many participants enjoyed during lunch and breaks.”

Dr. Jan Richardson, author of "The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading," served as keynote speaker. The theme of the conference was “Changing Lives Through Literacy” and featured 50-minute speaking sessions and 90-minute workshops focusing on P-12 literacy instruction.

Stevens’ widow, Claudette Stevens, attended the conference and spoke with Reading Education graduate students about their professional-development projects.

“She was pleased to see the new space named in Dr. Stevens’ honor and how it was being used for activities that connect the university to the community,” said Francis.

Dr. William Smith, professor emeritus of The Patton College’s reading program, also attended the conference, as did Susan Mansfield Williamson, who is the niece of Robinson Jobe. She discussed the Mansfield family, shared memories of her aunt, and drew the winning names for door prizes, which were donated by Pioneer Valley Books, Scholastic Books, and Rocky Boots Company.

Overall, the event was a hit among attendees, who completed an evaluation before departing. Richardson received a 5-out-of-5 rating from every conference participant, with many praising her knowledge and dynamic presentation skills. The other presenters also received high marks.

In the fall, the Stevens Literacy Center will host an open house and dedication ceremony, which will feature the "Dick and Jane" books, as well as other memorabilia that belonged to Robinson Jobe. The Patton College students and faculty, as well as the public, are welcome to join family members of Stevens and Robinson Jobe, at this historic event.