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Evangel University’s annual reading clinic reunites students from Congo

Published on Jun 20, 2018 by Paul K. Logsdon


Student Risiki Barume,15, discusses her language skills with Dr. Shonna Crawford of Evangel University, while Katelyn Schmitt plays a word game with Patrick Habimana, 13. The students are refugees from the Congo enrolled in Evangel’s free Literacy Lab, which is offered each summer for local students. Katelyn recently completed her Master of Education in Literacy at Evangel. // PHOTO BY Paul K. Logsdon


Sixty-five local students benefit from free Literacy Lab

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Three refugee teenagers from the Congo in Africa joined with 65 local K-12 students to benefit from Evangel University’s annual free reading clinic.

Local teachers who are enrolled in the Master of Education in Literacy program at Evangel also gained real-world experience while serving as tutors. The teachers worked one-on-one and in small groups, and each student received a total of sixteen 60-minute reading sessions.

The four-week program concluded Thursday, June 21.

“Our Literacy Lab is once again impacting K-12 students in our community through instruction related to reading, writing, speaking and listening,” said Dr. Shonna Crawford, chair of the department of education. “Our grad students plan lessons to meet the specific literacy needs of the students they are working with. It’s a win-win.”

Evangel’s program, which was first offered in 2015, is designed to equip classroom teachers for the current demand for literacy education. The Literacy Lab also enables the master’s-level students to obtain the practicum (internship) hours needed for their Reading Specialist Certification in Missouri.

Katelyn Schmitt helps Patrick Habimana, 13, with a language project during the free Literacy Lab offered by Evangel University each summer. Patrick was one of three refugee students from the Congo in the program this month. Katelyn recently completed her Master of Education in Literacy at Evangel. // PHOTO BY Paul K. Logsdon

Congo students reunite in Springfield

“There are three refugee families from the Congo sending their students to our Literacy Lab,” said Crawford. “Two of the families were neighbors in Congo and happened to be reunited here in Springfield — we’re now serving one family’s son and the other family’s daughter in our Literacy Lab.”

According to Dr. Crawford, they left the Congo and were sent to Tanzania first, then got on a plane not knowing where they’d be sent. Some are here as partial families hoping for the rest of their family to come.

Springfield-based international relief agency Convoy of Hope is helping provide transportation for the refugee students to and from the lab.

Sign up for next year

The clinic will be repeated at Evangel University next summer. The free sessions are available to elementary, middle and high school students, whether they are in public school, private school or home school.

In order to be eligible for the Literacy Lab, parents must commit their child to attending all 16 days of the program.

“We’ve received so much fantastic parent feedback once again this year,” said Crawford.

“After just a few sessions, parents comment about how their students’ attitudes toward literacy have greatly improved and they are reading and learning more than ever! We are so pleased to meet a need in our community and promote literacy,” she concluded.

Families interested in next summer’s clinic should contact the Evangel University Education Department via email at, or call (417) 865-2815, ext. 8548.




KOLR-10 (CBS News) with Dr. Shonna Crawford of Evangel (June 21, 2018):

KOLR-10 (CBS News) with Kari Hoggard of Convoy of Hope (June 21, 2018):

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The Springfield News-Leader (Gannett) featured the story on June 26, 2018. // (CLICK TO ENLARGE and SEE HIGH REZ)