Senior Ashley Dorlack, in the College of Education, spent hours on Pinterest looking for inspiration to decorate her first real classroom. She decided on a mountain theme.
Dorlack, along with other Marquette seniors in the Teaching Elementary Level Reading Practicum class are trained to tutor elementary school students who come to the Hartman Literacy and Learning Center for an hour after school, two days a week.
According to Marquette’s website, the center, housed by the College of Education is “a teaching, research and service site … designed to improve the quality of literacy instruction provided by teachers and the literacy acquisition of urban children.”
The dean of College of Education, William Henk, said the Hartman Center will not be affected by any potential reorganization or merge.
“The Hartman Literacy and Learning Center is endowed, so a reorganization should not impact its operation,” Henk said. “The Center Director is drawn from the faculty, and there is one staff member, both on permanent funding.”
Doris Walker-Dalhouse, a professor of literacy and interim director, said that the center works with partnership schools to identify students who are struggling with reading skills like word recognition, comprehension and fluency. Then, they assess those students and eventually bring them into program with no cost to families. Additionally, they get buses to transport the students to and from campus.
“The intent is that we select as many of the students who fit within that category of struggling in those aspects of reading,” Walker-Dalhouse said.
Some of the schools the center has worked with are Milwaukee College Prep, Messmer Saint Rose, Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame School of Milwaukee, Saint Anthony’s and Stellar Collegiate, Walker-Dalhouse, said.
“I think back to my own experience and you remember those classrooms where you’re like ‘Sick, this is awesome!'” Dorlack said. “It just makes you feel better, especially because these are students who aren’t necessarily confident in reading … that can be a really daunting task to go somewhere new with people they don’t know and a teacher they don’t know.”
The tutors do not have to follow a structured curriculum, the interim director added.
The students are placed in different groups based on their skill level, Dorlack said. From there tutors can teach them reading skills such as finding key words, word recognition and a small amount of writing and vocabulary skills.They also use children’s literature to tutor including fiction, nonfiction, biographies and autobiographies.
“They have a lot of classics … that are still around, but I’m excited to also find some new ones,” Dorlack said.
The center has become more parent oriented over the years, Walker-Dalhouse said. One of the center’s requirements is to have students take home books to read with parents, family members or other caregivers. This allows them to practice their reading skills and further develop their enjoyment of reading, Walker-Dalhouse said.
“There’s always that greater emphasis on communicating with parents and that is a continued goal,” Walker-Dalhouse said.
The center also has a summer program to prevent children from going a long period of time without reading, Walker-Dalhouse said.
The “Wade’s World Foundation,” founded by Marquette alumnus Dwayne Wade funds this summer program along with other community based education programs, according to the website.
“Having the opportunity to see the positives that cultural linguistics the students bring and the background knowledge … can be channeled to help them to be successful,” Walker-Dalhouse said.