Q&A with Terri Yoder


Smithland Elementary School, ESL Teacher

The program at JMU was set up in such a "user friendly" way. Taking two classes a semester seemed a bit overwhelming at first. However, the set up of taking one class at a time, only meeting once a week in person, and having asynchronous learning for the other portion of the class was essential to making it doable for a full time teacher.

I learned that you need to be careful about "research based" practices. As challenging as the research class was, it taught me a lot about what to look for to be sure that a program or practice was actually a best practice. We often hear these buzz words but taking these courses helped me to realize that any one program or practice is not going to solve all of the reading problems in the world. We need to be diligent in looking at the research, how it was conducted, and who carried the research out, and then use our professional knowledge to thoroughly teach to our students needs.

I would recommend this program to a colleague because it is a quality program that is set up for teachers who are working full-time. Even if you desire to continue teaching in the classroom and not be a reading specialist, the course work and instruction are so helpful to teaching all students you will find it beneficial as you instruct your students in reading and writing.

I see that good consistent instruction is vital to a thriving reading program. Anyone can read over a script in a boxed reading program. However, really understanding the developmental process of reading helps your reading instruction be more focused and meaningful. This program helped to firm up my understanding of the developmental process and now helps guide my daily instructional strategies.

Q&A with Amanda Grover


Skyline Middle School, Reading Specialist

This program was advertised at just the right time in my teaching career when I wanted to learn how to be a more well rounded literacy teacher in my classroom. The structure of having both synchronous and asynchronous class time was appealing while teaching full time.

One of the most impactful lessons I learned in this program was how important it is to integrate literacy across the day. I began intentionally planning my instruction around themes and building bridges that connected what we were learning in math, content and the language arts block as much as possible. Providing students increased opportunities to engage with vocabulary both orally and in writing across their day not only increased engagement but that consistency gave more purpose to what we were learning.

I would recommend this program to colleagues because I came away with valuable knowledge on how to be a literacy teacher across all content areas, not just a scheduled "reading" block. This program also focuses on the process of learning, allowing teachers to dig deeper and research topics that interest them while also being able to create things they can directly apply and use in their classrooms.
Having the opportunity to work with colleagues across my school division that I normally wouldn’t come in contact with was invaluable during the course of this program and beyond. I learned a great deal not only from the instructors but my peers from discussions, sharing ideas and experiences and group work.

I think my answer to the 2nd question answers this one.

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