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Sue Dickson ('52)

International Educator

Photo: Sue Dickson

While mopping her kitchen floor one day, Sue Dickson pondered, "Why do we just sing the alphabet song to learn the names of the letters? What we need is a phonics song to teach children the sounds of the letters more quickly and happily." Then she acted on the thought, designing lessons in reading and writing that made learning fun for students by incorporating repetition through singing. To help more children, she left her New Jersey classroom to create a curriculum that could be replicated in classrooms across the country and eventually around the world. Sue's "Sing, Spell, Read & Write" curriculum, founded on the phonics approach, has been introducing children to the joys of reading and writing for more than 35 years. In 1997, JMU bestowed its Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award upon Sue for her dedication to education.

"I wanted to make America literate! All that teachers need are the right tools, and it would be possible."