SPRINGFIELD, MO. — Becky Huechteman sits in a darkened room wearing headphones and watches intently as a conversation takes place on the other side of a two-way mirror. She’s not a spy; she is a professor of education at Evangel University.
The setting is a reading lab, and the focus of attention is on a young student receiving help with her reading skills from a graduate student. Both are taking advantage of Evangel University’s free reading clinic during the month of June, which provides one-on-one literacy training for K-12 students. Each student will receive a total of sixteen 60-minute reading sessions during a four-week period.
The tutors are all teachers from local school districts who are currently enrolled in Evangel’s Master of Education in Literacy program.
Today, Dr. Huechteman is analyzing Dawn Bartlett, a second grade teacher at Truman Elementary.
“Each of these graduate students is working toward state certification as a reading specialist,” said Dr. Huechteman, professor of education at Evangel. “Throughout these sessions, they analyze and diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of each student reader, then develop a plan to help them grow.”
The response has been exceptional. “My daughter runs in here every day with a smile,” said Andrea Adkins, a Springfield mom. “This has been a wonderful experience for us. The teachers are incredible, and they give us tools and projects to work on at home.”
After the young students leave, the graduate students keep learning.
“At the end of the day, we conference with the grad students and offer suggestions for their further instructions,” said Huechteman. “We will provide additional readings based on their questions. The grad students are learning and applying their skills on a daily basis.”
Bartlett couldn’t be happier with the process.
“Dr. Huechteman is constantly giving me new ideas,” she said. “I am then able to put into practice new techniques and see how they help the kiddos, rather than just reading about it in a book.”
Huechteman believes the training is invaluable; “Even if they don’t want to be a reading specialist, this certification process will help them become a better classroom teacher.”
PUBLISHED in the SPRINGFIELD NEWS-LEADER: June 15, 2015