Longtime Service to Literacy Education Honored
As an elementary classroom teacher and reading specialist for nearly two decades before joining the NMU faculty, Suzanne Standerford (Education) learned that reading and writing should form the cornerstone of any elementary education program. “It is so important that those subjects are taught effectively in the early stages, otherwise students start out at a disadvantage and are far less likely to be successful after that point.”
Her teaching experience, scholarly activity and service to the profession have earned Standerford the Michigan Reading Association Teacher Educator Award for 2008.
“I’ve been reading Where Have All the Leaders Gone by Lee Iacocca and one of his opening statements is ‘Life is a team effort,’” she said. “I certainly find that to be the case. The students, school teachers and the teacher education program here at Northern all helped to make this award possible. I’m thrilled to be honored by a state organization because it recognizes the value of what we are doing here.”
Standerford’s contributions to literacy education include 15 courses for pre-service and in-service teachers in reading, language arts and writing instruction; field-based programs for undergraduate students; and strong partnerships with teachers in K-12 districts.
She has co-edited the Michigan Reading Journal’s column of children’s literature and professional book reviews and served on the editorial review board for The Reading Teacher. Standerford served on the executive board of the Language Experience Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association.
She also is co-director of the Upper Peninsula Writing Project, which has funneled $275,000 in grants to NMU since 1996. There are 200 writing project sites across the nation; each follows a model of teaching educators in writing instruction. As part of the writing project, Standerford teaches summer institutes and creates professional development programs.
“To teach writing, teachers have to be writers themselves, so the summer institute gives them an opportunity to practice that skill,” she said. “We publish three pieces of each participant’s writing in a small anthology and also collect lessons that have proved successful so that other teachers can adapt them for their own use. More than 250 teachers in the Upper Peninsula, along with some from lower Michigan and Wisconsin, have gone through the institute.”
Standerford will receive her award at the Michigan Reading Association conference March 15 in Detroit.