Professor Emeritus empowers literacy colleagues through teacher training scholarship fund
The Ohio State University Professor Emerita Patricia Scharer, BA ’72, MA ’87, PhD ’90, recalls her days as a young first-grade teacher and the unrelenting concern she felt for the lowest achieving readers in her classroom. “It seemed I could try every single thing I knew as a young teacher, and it didn’t work,” said Scharer. That tugging at the heart Scharer felt transformed into great purpose.
After taking an 11-year sabbatical to raise her four children, Scharer began working toward her master’s degree and enrolled in as many courses in reading and literacy as possible at both Marion and Columbus campuses. During her master’s studies, Scharer discovered the world of Reading Recovery. This would open the door to becoming one of the first teachers in Ohio to be specially trained to effectively work with first-grade students having the most difficulty learning to read and write.
“This was a period of great intellectual explosion for me,” said Scharer. “It was also when I realized I wanted to continue my education. So, even though I was in my late thirties with four young children, I applied to the doctoral program.” Scharer was accepted and immediately offered a position working as a graduate research assistant. She recalls feeling torn. “What I really remember, is the conversation I had with myself on my way home from getting the graduate assistantship offer. I was arguing with myself…you know you love teaching those kids…but you also want to get a PhD — I went back and forth. What made my mind up was when I asked myself which opportunity would bring me more opportunities to learn.”
Scharer would go on to complete her doctorate within two years and, soon after, accepted an assistant professorship in literacy and early childhood education at Ohio State’s Lima campus. Nine years later, Scharer moved to Columbus campus and increased her involvement in advocating for Reading Recovery.
Ultimately, Scharer returned to her roots with Reading Recovery, this time as a full professor, and completed a year of training to become a university trainer enabling her to train teacher leaders. She also worked as a trainer for Literacy Collaborative. Scharer was key in securing federal grant funding for the university and increased Reading Recovery’s reach nationwide.
Scharer has now established the Ohio Reading Recovery Teacher Training Scholarship Fund through the Ohio Reading Recovery Council at Ohio State to break down economic barriers keeping teachers from furthering literacy expertise and participation in Reading Recovery training.
“Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative-trained teachers achieve unapparelled results because they take part in a multi-level literacy network that includes the university, teacher, training site and schools,” said Scharer. “For struggling readers, knowledgeable teachers are the best investment. Each teacher trained touches the lives of over 40 students per year working individually and small groups.”
Amy Cox, Primary Literacy Collaborative Coach, Newark City Schools, has been named the first recipient of the Ohio Reading Recovery Teacher Training scholarship. “I am honored to be selected for this award,” Cox said. “Dr. Scharer has been a vital part of Literacy Collaborative and Reading Recovery in our district as well as an advocate for responsive teaching. I have admired her many contributions to literacy teaching and learning.”
Cox went on to say that the Literacy Collaborative training she has received has brought a deeper understanding of literacy instruction and made way for immense professional growth. “I have the benefit of not only seeing the growth in my students, but I have also had the privilege and honor to work with other teachers as they have developed a deeper understanding around literacy instruction. My favorite part of what I do is seeing the growth in others, students and adults, that I work with,” said Cox.
Recently, the Ohio Reading Recovery Council (ORRC) reviewed the ORRC Competitive Teacher Training Scholarship applications. The number of applications received was the highest to date. The Ohio Reading Recovery Council has awarded 11 Reading Recovery teacher training scholarships for the 2022-2023 school year.
“We are excited for these schools to grow their Reading Recovery implementations,” said Jamie Lipp, PhD, Mary Fried Endowed clinical assistant professor and lead of Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative. “We are fortunate for the impact Professor Scharer’s generosity makes toward connecting educators with resources to support aspirations of literacy expertise.”
To learn more about how you can support teacher scholarships through the Ohio Reading Recovery Teacher Training Scholarship please visit the EHE Giving Page or contact Brendan Braaten, Director of Development at firstname.lastname@example.org
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