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College of Ecucation and Human Development

College of Education and Human Development

Reading Horizons Journal
Reading Horizons Journal

McGinnis Reading Center and Clinic
McGinnis Reading Center and Clinic


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New Program Offering

The Special Education Unit will be offering a new emphasis area in its Masters degree program beginning with the 2014-15 academic year (pending final approval of the WMU Graduate Studies Council). The Behavior Intervention Specialist program will include new courses such as School-Wide Positive Behavior Support, Intensive Interventions for Challenging Behaviors, Coaching Classroom Management, and Universal Design for Learning as part of the 30-hour degree program.

If you would like to know more about the program, please contact Dan Morgan or Kristal Ehrhardt for more information.

Posted December 5

Dr. Karen ThomasLiteracy Studies Professor to Retire this Month

Dr. Karen Thomas, a Professor in the Literacy Studies Unit, will be retiring from WMU this month after 18 years of service to the University, College, and the Kalamazoo community. A reception will be held in the Library of the Dorothy J. McGinnis Reading Center Clinic (4511 Sangren Hall) on December 10 from 2:00-4:00. We thank Karen for her stalwart service and dedication to her WMU students and the children and youth they teach.

Posted December 5

best buddies 1Special Education and Literacy Studies Student launches a WMU Best Buddies chapter
Ms. Kathleen McGovern, a senior in our SPED undergraduate program has made Western Michigan University, CoEHD, and our SPED program proud this fall by successfully launching a WMU Best Buddies chapter! Best Buddies is an international non-profit organization whose mission is to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A preliminary effort begun during this past summer has blossomed into a Chapter with board members, peer buddies (Western Students), and buddies (young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities). As the President of  the WMU Chapter, Kathleen has worked relentlessly to assemble her team of a Vice president (Jackie Sofian), Sara Lee (membership coordinator), Jacki Veldkamp (fundraising coordinator), and Kristen Novelli (in charge of social media). Leading her talented team, Kathleen has carried out this amazing task of interviews, answering e-mails, contacting parents and caregivers, and planning events.

best buddies 2The activities this fall started with a kickoff party in mid-September to inform parents/caregivers about Best Buddies and allowed the peer buddies and buddies to contact and mingle for the first time. After this event the membership coordinator and Kathleen worked on establishing the buddy pairs. At the end of the kickoff event they had the peer buddies and buddies write down three people that they made a good connection with.  So far the Chapter has 32 matched pairs, 24 associate members who are Western students who want to be involved with Best Buddies but do not have the time commitment to have a buddy at this time. The starting chapter has a total of 88 people. After the first fun filled Halloween event on October 22, the chapter will be holding socials once a month where the peer buddy will attend with their buddy. Beyond the socials the peer buddy and buddy will hang out and build a meaningful one-to-one friendship while also engaging in other activities such as go to the movies, the mall, bake or cook, hang out with other friends, etc.  Kathleen McGovern and her team are currently working on having fundraising events out in the community to spread awareness of what Best Buddies is all about.  Kudos to Kathleen and her team for accomplishing this task with an existing busy schedule of classes and field experiences!

Posted November 13

Faculty member is awarded high honors at this years Academic Convocation
Dr. Sarah Summy Dr. Sarah Summy, associate professor of special education and literacy studies, was recognized as a recipient of the WMU Distinguished Teaching Award. This award was given at the 2013 Annual Academic Convocation, and presented by Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Timothy Greene, as well as President Dr. John Dunn. This award is the highest honor a faculty member can recieve at WMU.
Dr. Sarah Summy receives WMU Distinquished Teaching Award

Posted November 4

selena-protacioProfessor publishes article in Asia Pacific Journal of Education
Selena Protacio, a faculty member in the Department of Special Education and Literacy Studies, has published an article in the Asia Pacific Journal of Education. In this article entitled "A case study of reading instruction in a Philippine classroom", Protacio and her co-author Loukia Sarroub focus on the reading practices in a public and high-achieving sixth-grade classroom in the Philippines. They present a description of a classroom where higher status is given to oral reading performance rather than comprehension, thus adding to the literature on cultural notions of literacy.

Posted May 30

Alumnus receives distinguished alumnus awardbruininks
Robert H. Bruininks, who graduated from WMU with a Special Education degree in 1964, received the Peabody Distinguished Alumnus Award from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development.

Former University of Minnesota president receives Peabody Distinguished Alumnus Award

Posted May 16

Selena Protacio selected as fellow for STAR program
selenaSelena Protacio, a faculty member of the Literacy Studies Unit in the department of Special Education and Literacy Studies, was selected by the Literacy Research Association to be a fellow for the Scholars of color Transitioning into Academic Research institutions (STAR) program.  She will be part of the 2013-2015 cohort. The STAR program was designed to support early career scholars from minority backgrounds in conducting high-quality literacy research which addresses issues related to diversity. Dr. Protacio’s current research focuses on investigating the factors related to the reading engagement of English language learners.

Posted May 14

Karen ThomasTwo literacy studies professors present at conference
“Deepening Student Literacy and Learning:  Text Sets and Inquiry” This is the title of a presentation given by Karen Thomas and Lauren Freedman, two Literacy Studies Professors, at the Michigan Reading Association Conference – March 9 and 10, 2013 in Grand Rapids.  The presentation offered participants two hands-on experiences, one focused on the Industrial Revolution and one focused on Ecosystems.  For each topic, Thomas and Freedman brought approximately 60 books that ranged in complexity from high to low both in terms of reading level and content concepts.  Following the hands-on experiences, the participants, who were teachers and literacy coaches working with students and colleagues in grades K-high school, engaged in an in-depth discussion with Thomas and Freedman.  The discussion focused on effective literacy/learning strategies that fit within an inquiry framework and would provide multiple opportunities to differentiate instruction/learning for all students grades K-12.  The group also talked about the differences between traditional content centered instruction and inquiry based learning centered instruction.

Posted April 16

Special education student presents at the Michigan Council for Exceptional Children Conference
Katie SniegowskiKatie Sniegowski, special education undergraduate student, presented The Educational Needs of Students with Disabilities in West Africa at the Michigan Council for Exceptional Children Conference in Grand Rapids on March 15, 2013.  This is a presentation from her Honor's Thesis.  Her research was completed during the Cultural Connections Study Abroad experience to Dekar, Senegal during Summer I, 2012.  The Cultural Connections Study Abroad is Co-Directed by Dr. Sarah Summy, Dr. Yvette Hyter, and Dr. Santiago Valles.

Posted March 19

Special education grad receives award
Ben Hill wins awardSpecial education graduate, Ben Hill recently received the Kansas Unified School District Teacher of the Month Award at Lincoln Elementary School for his outstanding achievements in special education teaching. The USD 480/Chamber of Commerce said this about Ben:

“Mr. Hill is extremely positive and energetic.  He is a team player and shows great consideration to students, staff and parents.  Mr. Hill finds or creates lessons and activities to interest each student while expecting the student to participate and be responsible for his/her own learning.  He pushes students to be the best student, person and citizen they can be. Congratulations Mr. Hill!!”

Posted March 12

Dan MorganChair of Special Education and Literacy Studies has book published
Dr. Daniel Morgan, chair of the Department of Special Education and Literacy Studies, has a new book published.

The second edition of The Tough Kid Principal's Briefcase was published by Pacific Northwest Publishing; authors William R. Jenson, Ginger Rhode, Cal Evans, and Daniel Morgan.

The Tough Kid Principal's Briefcase takes the most current research on supporting school wide and individual student behavior and translates it into a concise, practical guide.

Posted February 5

Special education interns teaching in Germany.Special education interns teach in Germany
For the past 15 years, special education students have had the unique opportunity to teach overseas during their special education internship in Germany. Interns spend 15 weeks teaching while experiencing the European culture. The interns live on an American military base and the student population consists primarily of American military children. This will be the last year interns will be teaching in Heidelberg, Germany since the base is closing due to the withdrawal of American troops from Europe. Dr. Elizabeth Whitten, coordinator of special education study abroad, has begun the process of finding new placements throughout Germany for the coming years. You can visit the Study Abroad Homepage for more details on the program.

Pictured are Caitlin Goike, Julie King, Samantha Evasic, Hope Hooton and Shannon Keizer in front of the Heidelberg Castle.  

Posted January 29

Dorothy J. McGinnis Obituary
Dorothy J. McGinnisDr. Dorothy J. McGinnis was born in Dowagiac, MI on May 28, 1920, the daughter of John and Wava (Vail) McGinnis. She received a B.S. degree from Western Michigan University in 1943, a M.A. in psychology from Ohio State University in 1948 and her Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 1963. She retired from Western Michigan University in 1986 after 40 years of service. In addition to teaching in the Department of Education and Professional Development, she was Director of the Reading Center and Clinic from 1964 to 1975, which bears her name. She was the chairperson of the committee that established WMU's Master of Arts program in reading. She helped establish the international journal, READING HORIZONS, and was its editor for seven years. She co-authored eight books, wrote many professional articles, and was a consultant to two publishing companies. She was on the board of directors of the Michigan Reading Association for 14 years and its president in 1967. She served as a reading consultant to several Michigan public schools and conducted reading conferences throughout the United States. Dr. McGinnis received the WMU Alumni Association Teaching Excellence Award in 1972 and was honored twice by the local reading association. She was a licensed consulting psychologist and a member of the American Psychological Association, Michigan Psychological Association, International Reading Association, and the Kalamazoo County Association of Retired School Personnel. After retirement, she served two years on WMU's Emeriti Council and did volunteer work at the Portage Senior Center.
Posted January 15

Susan PiazzaDr. Susan V. Piazza, Associate Professor of Literacy Studies from WMU will be featured with Dr. Patricia A. Edwards, Distinguished Professor of Teacher Education from MSU in the upcoming Global Conversations in Literacy Research (GCLR) webinar on February 17, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. EST. Their presentation is titled The Impact of Family on Literacy Development: Convergence, Controversy, and Instructional Implications. The GCLR project is Patricia Edwardshosted by Georgia State University and is an open access internet project that connects global audiences with each other and provides a venue to exchange ideas on international issues in literacy. It uses new and emergent technologies to reshape how literacy research can be shared globally, and acknowledges that diverse, multiple and global perspectives are vital resources for changing consciousness around literacy research and practice.

For more information on this and other open access seminars visit Global Conversations in Literacy Research

Posted January 9