NewsAppalachian State

App State partners with Mebane Charitable Foundation to improve literacy in the High Country and Catawba Valley

Last Updated on February 26, 2024 2:24 pm

BOONE, N.C. — The Mebane Charitable Foundation has donated $100,000 to Appalachian State University to fund the expansion of reading assistance services for K–3 students in Watauga and Catawba counties.

These services will provide critical literacy resources to local families, building on the model established at the Anderson Reading Clinic — which is located in the Reich College of Education (RCOE) on the university’s Boone campus and is the oldest university-based reading clinic in North Carolina.

“At App State, literacy education has been at the core of our work for 125 years,” said RCOE Dean Melba Spooner. “The Mebane Foundation’s generous gift allows us to not only sustain that legacy but to expand it, improving literacy outcomes for greater numbers of children across North Carolina.”

Spooner said the new offerings are a direct response to increasing demand for spots in the Anderson Reading Clinic and provide access to reading support for students whose families are unable to transport them to the clinic site on the Boone campus.

The broader reach of these services will significantly increase the number of children and families able to access assistance.

The funding is being used to purchase technology and reading materials, as well as to provide professional development opportunities for staff.

In addition, this donation will support the development of a digital learning channel, which will be a repository of literacy education materials. The content will be designed for education students at App State but will also be made available to the more than 10,000 App State alumni working in education across the state.

Serving communities and equipping educators

In partnership with Watauga County Schools and the Mebane Foundation, App State is providing reading assistance services for K–3 students on-site at Hardin Park and Cove Creek schools.

To extend services to students in the Catawba Valley, the university plans to replicate the Boone campus’s Anderson Reading Clinic at the App State Hickory campus.

In addition to offering reading assistance to children in local communities, the network of literacy support services will provide opportunities for hands-on instructional experience for Reich College undergraduate and graduate students.

“We are fortunate to have the distinct opportunity to serve children and families in our local communities while providing valuable, real-world experience for our education students through these clinical experiences,” said Dr. Woodrow Trathen, chair of App State’s Department of Child Development, Literacy and Special Education.

To provide this reading assistance, App State students work in small groups and one-on-one with local K–3 children to strengthen their reading, writing and spelling skills and to increase the children’s confidence when engaging with written material. App State literacy faculty are on-site to monitor and provide assistance to education students working with children.

Through these teaching experiences, App State students become familiar with instruction that aligns with the science of reading, the Comprehensive University of North Carolina System Literacy Framework and the North Carolina Literacy Instruction Standards, according to Trathen.

“The Mebane Foundation’s support is not only an investment in childhood literacy today but an investment in childhood literacy for years to come, as App State graduates take the skills developed through their work in the clinical teaching experiences into their careers as educators,” Trathen said.

About the Mebane Charitable Foundation

Established in 1998 by George Allen Mebane IV — founder of Unifi Inc. — the Mebane Charitable Foundation provides funding to promote partnerships among educational and community leaders for the improvement of early childhood education, with a special focus on reading education.

“At the Mebane Foundation, we believe that reading skills are the foundation of all educational success,” said Larry Colbourne, president of the foundation. “We are proud to invest in the future of literacy education through our partnership with App State.”

The Mebane Foundation has awarded more than $25 million in grants to educational partners throughout North Carolina.

App State’s reading assistance services provide one-on-one reading support to local children, pairing them with undergraduate and graduate students from the Reich College of Education.

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