Teaching teachers focus of Lisle's 3rd university
Originally published 1/8/2005 at:
When Norma Navalany decided to go back to school, the working mom from Wheaton chose to pursue her degree at National-Louis University because it was close to home.
When Navalany first met with National-Louis enrollment representative Gay Slawinski in 2004, the school was smack-dab in downtown Wheaton.
Much has changed in the year since the women first met.
Navalany, 40, is now a "happily single" mother of three.
And the location she drove to enroll as a student Thursday afternoon was the university's new 86,000-square-foot campus that opened Monday in Lisle.
A dedication ceremony for National-Louis, Lisle's third and latest university, is scheduled for Jan. 18, complete with an appearance by Mayor Joseph Broda.
Though it's five minutes farther away, Navalany said the new building, a result of a $7 million-plus renovation project, is worth the trip.
But the new Lisle campus at 850 and 950 Warrenville Road doesn't just give adults like Navalany a way to work and learn; it also provides several dozen teachers with a new center to train to help struggling first-graders in DuPage and Will County learn to read.
Reading Recovery is one of several programs with room to grow since the university moved its suburban campus from the old DuPage County courthouse building in downtown Wheaton, where it had been located since 1998.
Tina Lozano, a National-Louis reading professor and director of Illinois Reading Recovery, said the new building "has potential for expansion."
"It is better located to help the districts that we serve in Plainfield, Glen Ellyn and Downers Grove," Lozano said.
And with offices on the first floor at 950 Warrenville Road, in contrast to the fifth floor of their former building in Wheaton, Lozano said she wants to increase the visibility of the program with more open houses and links to area school districts.
"When National-Louis began, it was a teaching college in 1896," Lozano said. "It had close relationships with schools in Illinois promoting education as it related to social justice.
"It was very strong then, and is very strong now."
Bringing Reading Recovery to the new Lisle campus required more than a few cubicles.
It meant making space for colorful letter magnets, book shelves, a magnetic easel and a two-way observation mirror in a wall that borders space for 15 teachers in training, and a Reading Recovery trainer teaching a first-grader.
"Traditionally in education, there are remedial programs," said Barbara Lukas, an adjunct National-Louis professor and Reading Recovery teacher-leader.
"With Reading Recovery," Lukas said, "it is not a remedial program but an early-intervention to catch first-graders before they have a chance to fail."
Since 1988, Reading Recovery has helped 90,000 Illinois first-graders who had problems reading and writing.
Of those children in the program, about 80 percent achieve average or above average literacy levels as assessed by standardized tests.
On Thursday and Friday, National-Louis will sponsor an annual Reading Recovery Institute at the Chicago Marriott to celebrate the program's 20th anniversary in the United States. But for kids in 32 schools in seven West and Southwest suburban school districts, the nuts and bolts of how their teachers will help them learn to read will happen in Lisle.
"We work with the hardest-to-teach children," Lukas said, in the Reading Room, where a student and a teacher trainer would be observed working one-on-one.
"To see learning as it actually is occurring," she said, "is powerful."