Online Faculty Spotlight - Jane Skon
Dr. Skon began her teaching career with a focus on children with learning disabilities, particularly in reading. Her licensure areas are Elementary 1-8, Reading K-12, and Learning Disabilities K-12. She began her career in higher education when she was hired by Mount Vernon Nazarene University to create and coordinate a college reading program. She did graduate work in Linguistics and received her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. In 2003 she began teaching in the Education Department at MVNU where she was the coordinator for the Intervention Specialist Program and taught courses for the Intervention Specialist and Reading Programs. In June 2012 she earned her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in Teacher Education, specializing in Literacy. Her dissertation explored how prospective teachers valued and conceptualized cultural relevance to education and what experiences facilitate cultural relevance in prospective teachers. In 2013 she began her work at Ohio University as an assistant professor of instruction in the Reading Program and was promoted to associate professor of instruction in 2019. Dr. Skon teaches in both undergraduate and graduate programs in Reading. She has directed a study abroad trip which led to a partnership with Concepcion Elementary School in the Corozal District of Belize. She has also collaborated with local and area partnership schools in the Middle Childhood and Early and Elementary programs. She began her position as the Reading Endorsement Facilitator in 2021.
Why Ohio University? What brought you here?
I have always had a passion for reading and writing and for teaching literacy, so when I saw that Ohio University had a position open in Reading Education I couldn’t resist. The program here is among the best, as are my colleagues in the program. It is a privilege to be a part of such a program with such outstanding faculty who focus on research-based practices that are proven to benefit student learning.
In addition, I love that our program is situated in a clinical model with professional development school partnerships. The Patton College of Education embraces this model and I strongly believe in it.
Finally, I love this area. I grew up near here and still have family in the area.
Please give me a brief overview of the Reading Endorsement program.
The Reading Endorsement Program is a graduate-level non-degree program that provides extensive training for teachers of all levels, equipping them in advanced expertise and credentials for teaching reading K-12. It’s especially important for elementary-level teachers to have this credential, with many districts currently requiring a Reading Endorsement for all teachers in the early childhood grades. However, it is valuable for teachers at all levels. The program is teacher-friendly, being fully online, with options for completing the program in an intensive summer or over the course of a year, one course at a time.
Another valuable aspect of this program is that there is an option to build on the endorsement later toward a master’s degree in reading. All the courses are taken in the Reading Endorsement program count towards the master’s degree within a 5-year period.
To be eligible for the Reading Endorsement program, candidates must have a State of Ohio teaching license and have 12 credit hours in Reading coursework for early and middle childhood licenses or 9 credit hours for AYA or multi-age licenses.
How can adding this endorsement to a teaching license help the teacher and the student?
As I mentioned before, many districts require the endorsement for teachers in the early grades, so it would certainly help in securing a teaching position.
For all teachers, the endorsement provides a more in-depth understanding of how children learn to read and write. It focuses on what research shows is effective, including how to assess and plan instruction with plenty of hands-on experiences using research-based practices at each of the grade bands. The endorsement is for K-12, so we include all grade bands in coursework and tutoring experiences.
What is one piece of wisdom you hope all of your students will take with them throughout their careers?
One important perspective is to prioritize the student. It’s important to always keep the goal in mind, which is student learning and is informed by your students’ strengths and needs. I would like all my students to prioritize getting to know their students, especially finding their unique gifts and talents. The focus tends to be so much on students’ deficits in education, when every student brings with them strengths that they can learn to utilize in learning, growing, and reaching their potential. Understanding students’ cultures, interests, values, and needs equip teachers for being effective in empowering them as learners, and that is the beauty of being an educator. If we can help students understand how to use their gifts as learners and as individuals, we empower them beyond the brief time we have them in our classes. Our impact can be lasting.