By Jaci Schneider, Opinion Editor
The U.S. Department of Education awarded a $100,000 grant to ACU’s Reading Clinic Nov. 20 as part of a spending bill approved by Congress.
The university’s Department of Education worked with the Office of Development to secure the grant, said Dr. Pat Simpson, director of the Reading Clinic and professor of English.
“It’s been in the works for more than one year,” Simpson said. “We put our heads together and thought of all positives we bring to the community and looked at our very specific needs.”
Dr. Colleen Durrington, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said in an e-mail that they asked for the funding to enhance the clinic with new equipment and software.
“This will help us better prepare our ACU students preparing to be teachers, as well as serve the community by assisting K-12 students who have difficulties reading,” Durrington said.
Simpson said the current assessment tools will be enhanced, which will help prepare students to teach special education and reading.
“We’ll broaden our repertoire of assessment tools,” she said, adding that new technology will be included. “We will use it to do what we do now even better.”
The summer Reading Clinic has existed at ACU for about 30 years, Durrington said. The after-school clinic began in 1986.
Throughout each semester, senior education majors tutor students individually for four hours a week in the Reading Clinic, Simpson said.
More than 150 children from Abilene and towns within a 50-mile radius of Abilene receive tutoring and reading help each year, Simpson said.
During the school year, undergraduate students serve as tutors. In the summer, graduate students specializing in reading and special education work in the clinic.
Simpson said the grant money is not being spent yet because the grant writers are waiting to find out what restrictions came with the money. They asked for more money than they received, so they’re unsure if they get to decide exactly how the money is spent, Simpson said.
However the clinic normally runs on funds provided by tuition money, so the $100,000 will help significantly.
“This will really be an enhancement,” Simpson said.