Faculty & Staff Achievements

USF Graduate Reading Specialists Fight Summer Learning Loss

Professor Honored as Education Partner of Year

by Ed Carpenter, Office of Marketing Communications

Graduate reading specialists tutor under-resourced kids to stave off summer learning loss as part of the Mo' MAGIC program.

USF’s Helen Maniates was recently named Education Partner of the Year for leading a School of Education effort to bolster the reading skills of students from under-resourced San Francisco schools.

Professor Maniates received the award from San Francisco nonprofit Mo‘ MAGIC (Mobilize for Adolescent Growth in Our Communities), a program founded by the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.

Each summer since 2011, Maniates has led teams of about 20 USF graduate students who are pursuing advanced degrees as reading specialists as they teach reading to approximately 175 elementary and middle school students for Mo‘ MAGIC in classes of about 15 students. The goal is to prevent reading loss, which disproportionately impacts children from under-resources families.

Reaching under-resourced students

“Summer reading loss can result in a gap of 2–3 months of reading development per year,” Maniates said. “By fifth grade, this can mean students are more than a year behind their more advantaged peers.”

The five-week reading course is part of a collaboration between Mo‘ MAGIC and the Schools of the Sacred Heart, Convent and Stuart Hall. USF graduate students, who are all credentialed California teachers, earn class credit toward a master’s degree in teaching reading for participating

“Our master’s degree candidates gain valuable experience designing and teaching reading in a community-based setting in partnership with youth development staff who know the students and are grounded in the community,” Maniates said.

Alumna forges SF collaborations

Sheryl Davis MPA ’11 founded Mo‘ MAGIC, part of the nonprofit Collective Impact, in 2004 to forge collaboration between the city, nonprofits, schools, churches, and other organizations to improve the education, health, and well-being of young people in San Francisco’s Fillmore and Western Addition neighborhoods. The reading program, for which Convent and Stuart Hall school provides classrooms and equipment, is an example of Mo‘ MAGIC’s success.

“The reading program, led by Dr. Maniates, has opened doors to our students that weren’t open before and helped them improve in school,” said Davis, a Jefferson Award Winner and San Francisco Human Rights Commission member. 

The program prepares USF graduate students to work as reading specialists who merge technical skills with a commitment to social justice and a vision of each child as competent and capable, Maniates said.

Applying what they learn in the classroom

Fernando Che ’14, a graduate student who taught for Mo‘ MAGIC this summer, said the experience has helped prepare him to meet the needs of students who are struggling.

“As a student teacher during my credential training, I saw kids just like those in Mo‘ MAGIC’s summer program who were behind the rest of the class, but it was hard for me to know why or what could help them,” Che said. “Working with Mo‘ MAGIC allowed me to design and apply lessons and strategies I learned in my USF classes. I plan to put that experience to use in the classroom now that I’m applying for jobs.”

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