Winter 1997

Alumni News


Dickson and Weber Receive Distinguished Alumni Awards
Written by Randy Jones

The JMU Alumni Association has selected Sue Dickson ('52) and Paul Weber ('80) for its 1996 distinguished alumni awards.

Dickson, a recipient of many educational awards including Who's Who in American Education, has received JMU's Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in recognition of her success in literacy education.


Sue Dickson ('52)
Her lifelong dedication to literacy education was sparked as she troubled over those elementary school students who, try as they might, were not learning to read in the classroom. To help them, she developed a successful literacy program that today has been adopted by many school systems in the United States and Canada.

Dickson's Sing, Spell, Read and Write relies on songs and books, written by Dickson, to teach children phonics and fundamental reading skills. Those lessons are then reinforced with assignments in companion writing-spelling books and specially designed readers with 960 illustrated pages of original stories, poems and rhyming tales.

SSR&W and Dickson's other remedial literacy program, WINNING, have been endorsed by teachers and literacy advocates throughout North America, including the United States' National Right to Read Foundation. Last fall, a broadcast of ABC's Good Morning America highlighted Dickson's systematic approach on a segment of the show dealing with literacy problems in the United States.

Part of SSR&W's success is the enthusiasm for reading it engenders in children, teachers in Alabama, Texas and Memphis have said.

Dickson agrees. "Give teachers the right tools," she says with zeal and optimism, "and we can have this country reading by the year 2000. All it takes is a few months for older children and one school year for beginners."

Weber, a partner in the law firm of Hyatt Peters and Weber in Annapolis, Md., has received the Distinguished Alumni Service Award for his service and dedication to JMU.


Paul Weber ('80)
Weber, a founder and president of the Baltimore-Annapolis alumni chapter, was the driving force in developing the alumni association's career networking program, which facilitates prospective job connections between alumni. The idea occurred to Weber while he served as president of the JMU Alumni Association Board of Directors.

"It was right in the middle of the early recession of the '90s, when kids were having difficulty getting jobs," Weber says. During his last year as board president, he shepherded the career networking project. "We established a database of alumni that [a graduate or student] could use as a central source at the university" for locating job leads in a particular geographic region or field, he says. "The main thing was to give recent graduates someone to talk to and give them some direction on how to find a job" or more information about a particular job field, he explains.

Weber, who has served JMU faithfully for 12 years, concedes he hasn't always been active. "My first five years out, I never came back," he confesses. When he did, however, he felt a renewed connection to the university. "You need a little excuse to get active. I think if you get people involved early, they will stay active longer," he says. Weber and his wife, Susan, will be adopting a Russian child this year.

Ex Libris
Books by JMU alumni

Brief Landing on the Earth's Surface
University of Wisconsin Press, 1996
ISBN 0299152049

Juanita Brunk ('79/M.F.A.), former poet-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin. Her poems have appeared in Southern Poetry Review, Poet Lore, Cimmaron Review, Passages North and The American Poetry Review.

The most ordinary moments are infused with an awareness of the lost past and a kind of prescience of the future. From one setting to another - these poems give voice to the human longing for permanence, home and connection. Winner of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry.

Femalines: Phases of Female Feline Phenomena
Torrance Press, 1994
ISBN 0929523113

Nancy Worthington ('69/M.F.A.), sculptor and artist. Her works have been selected for exhibitions in France, Germany, Denmark, Brazil and the United States.

Femalines features prints of her 12 collages of women turning into cats and back again. Worthington contends that cats and women - in parallel climbs and falls - have been similarly revered and reviled throughout history. Her text draws on her research into mythology, paganism and Christianity.

Fun With Pup Activity Book
Pelican Publishing, 1996
ISBN 1565542304

John Rose ('86), syndicated cartoonist. His "Kids Home Newspaper" page, an activity page for children, is carried by 200-plus papers in North America. He also does political cartoons for Harrisonburg's Daily News-Record.

The book is a compilation of more than 250 of Rose's favorite pages of activities ranging from coloring and solving word puzzles and scrambles to secret codes and images all featuring Pup. The book is intended for children ages 5-12 needing some diversion on a rainy day or during a long car ride.

Turnaround

When David Grimm ('74) received Long John Silver's 1995 Franchisee of the Year award, it topped 21 years of success, including an impressive turnaround. As district manager Grimm took on a struggling Virginia Beach Long John Silver franchise for its new owner, LJS executive Ray Brewer. The restaurants had been neglected financially, and employee morale was at rock bottom.

David Grimm ('74)
In the 21 years since the restaurants' reconstruction, Grimm has added three new stores (for a total of 10 in southeastern Virginia) and has managed to place his sales average above the corporate average by 35 percent. Today he serves on the LJS National Franchise Advisory Board and the Board of Directors of the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association.

Grimm credits his success with putting the customer first and incentives and morale building for his employees. And he's hands on. Visit one of his restaurants and you'll see the franchise's executive vice president working right alongside his employees.

David and his wife, Susan, have been married for 21 years and have a daughter, Tracey.

Scores On Cue

If it's on the Panthers' scoreboard, chances are Kyle Ritchie ('88) is responsible. As the Charlotte, N.C., football team's scoreboard operations manager, Ritchie prepares and coordinates virtually everything fans see and hear at games in Ericcson Stadium.

Kyle Ritchie ('88)
With state-of-the-art electronics, including two PantherVision screens, two strip boards and a game-in-progress board, an engineer and 28 audio-video assistants, Ritchie stage-manages the game's instant replays, cheer leading, music, advertising, mascot routines and PA announcements about ticket information and contests. Ritchie says he considers his greatest challenge the task of fitting all of that programming into the short amount of time he is allotted for each game.

Before settling down with the Panthers, Ritchie worked the baseball circuit, including stints with the Baltimore Orioles and the Florida Marlins.

The Few, The Proud, The Post


Alison Boyce ('96)

Former Breeze editor-in-chief Alison Boyce ('96) counts herself among the lucky few - the lucky 17, to be exact. Last summer she and 16 other students and college graduates were chosen from more than 700 applicants nationwide for the Washington Post's premiere internship program.

"I was very lucky to graduate from college and get my dream job at my dream newspaper - and have it be as good a place to work as I hoped it would be."

Perks of her sports copy editing internship included weekly luncheons with professional journalists, including Bob Woodward. More importantly, her association with the Post continues. She works full time now for the Post's newly launched insert, The Prince William Extra.

"I do a little bit of everything in the job ... including designing the section's layout," she says. "It's kind of like being sports editor at The Breeze again, which was a job I loved."

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