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CMU Summer Reading Clinic improves child literacy and trains future teachers

Teacher education students provide tutoring during summer months

Contact: Dan Digmann

​​​For some children, summer break is a long time without reading and writing help. The Central Michigan University Summer Reading Clinic is meeting this need in Mount Pleasant and the surrounding areas through customized tutoring for kids in kindergarten through 8th grade – and preparing future teachers along the way.

Intensive teacher education

"We are training future reading teachers at the undergraduate level and future literacy coaches and reading specialists at the graduate level, while providing service to our area kids," clinic director and CMU professor of teacher education Xiaoping Li said.

The clinic is tied to one undergraduate-level teacher education and one graduate-level course. 


"This is the best training program for our undergraduates and graduates," Li said. "They receive observation and feedback by peers, graduate students and professors. They learn by doing. We want them to be effective teachers."

The CMU students begin the six-week experience with one week of clinic preparation leading into the four-week clinic, followed by a week of literacy research journal article presentation, case study poster presentation and final reflective writing on the overall reading clinic experience.

Programs are tailored for each child's needs and interests to foster skill development and an interest in reading and writing. The CMU students also create daily lesson plans, learn and utilize assessment tools, and work closely with parents and caregivers on their childrens' progress, among other things.

The CMU students, while improving their skills, also recognize the benefits of the clinic to the community.

"It is really awesome to get CMU involved in the community because we're here, we have these resources to give these interventions to students who might not be able to afford them at a different tutoring place," Holt senior Ashley Becker said.

Improving literacy, changing lives

When Eileen Jennings, former CMU general council and longtime Mount Pleasant resident, learned the son of a family she had recently met was having reading trouble, she knew where he needed to be.

Summer Reading Clinic.jpgThe family had recently moved to the Lansing area from Afghanistan, and although all six children had become fluent in English, one of the six children was struggling with his reading.

"I knew from past experience it was an outstanding program so I told the father I would pay for Janan to come to this reading clinic because it would be a chance for him to learn to read better," Jennings said.

Janan's younger brother Kawoon wanted to join him, so the brothers stayed with Jennings during the week so they could attend the clinic each day.

Jennings said the clinic greatly exceeded her expectations and that Janan has improved his reading tremendously. He is now reading chapter books, and has even discovered a love for poetry and is writing poems.

"Janan has learned incredible amount from his teachers. He is now standing up in front of the class, reciting poems and doing readings," she said. "The teachers here have done a job beyond any expectations.

"When he came he had no confidence in himself, he wasn't sure he could read very well," Jennings said. "He now has new confidence, he's speaking English in very good language, he's just a whole new person. And it's all due to this reading clinic."

Community partnership

summer-reading-clinic2.jpgNearly 10 years ago, CMU and the city of Mount Pleasant's Partners Empowering All Kids program​, or PEAK, developed a partnership to enhance the Summer Reading Clinic. This collaboration brings many benefits to the Summer Reading Clinic, such as the PEAK program managing promotion and registration.

Both programs also operate out of the same local elementary school building, making accessibility one of the most significant benefits. The PEAK program begins at 7:30 a.m. and the clinic at 9 a.m., so it is easier on working parents as the kids can go seamlessly from one to the other.

Spencer McKellar, summer PEAK coordinator and CMU alumnus, has witnessed firsthand the clinic's benefits.

"The CMU reading clinic is really beneficial to the students because they continue to learn and get that one-on-one interaction they may not get as much of during the school year," McKellar said. 

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