Marple Newtown Patch is featuring great teachers in the Marple Newtown area who deserve some spotlight. Teachers give a lot to their students, schools and studies and we'd like to recognize them and say a simple, thank you, for all that they do. This educator has been in the industry for 26 years, spreading her passion for all things reading.
Name: Joanne Boulanger
Grade/Subject: Reading Specialist
Years in the Industry: 26 years
Teaching History: I began my career teaching in an elementary private school after graduating from Widener University. I taught for four years and then I received my Master's degree in Reading from Widener. I taught elementary and middle school in Southeast Delco School District for 13 years. I became a Literacy Coach and worked with both students and staff. I moved to Chester County and decided to accept a position at . I was the Building Reading Specialist at Russell for six years. I have been at the high school for the last three years.
What do you like most about your job?
I enjoy teaching. I feel that the rewards are great. The satisfaction of working with great teachers, staff and students is immeasurable. Reading is a very complex process that each day presents new challenges. I like the variety of students that I get to work with at the high school. Seeing a student pick up a book, hearing a student discussing a book, watching a student who has struggled with reading encounter success–these are the joys of the job!
Why did you become a teacher?
A long time ago, when I was in high school, my guidance counselor gave me a test to see what career I would enjoy. The test results indicated teaching. I knew in my heart that I wanted to teach but the test results gave me “proof” that it would be a good choice. The rest they say is history.
What do you like best about your current school (projects, programs or activities that your school is a part of):
Marple Newtown High School is committed to literacy. Over the past several years, the high school teachers have continually tried to infuse their content area classes with reading strategies. The teachers have received professional development in the key components of adolescent literacy. The students have benefitted from the variety of instructional strategies that have been used.
One factor that is always present in adolescent literacy is motivation. How do you motivate teenagers to read? After forming a committee made up of teachers, administrators, parents and students, we tackled that very question. How do we motivate the students to read in the summer and want to come back to school ready to discuss what they read.
We investigated the idea of the All School Read. This would change the idea of every grade level reading different books. We discovered that many schools are building a community of readers through a program called One Book, One School. This program was started by a Seattle librarian, Nancy Pearl, about 10 years ago. One Book programs strive to get students reading and to build a sense of community through a shared experience.
The challenge, of course, is finding a book that will appeal to a wide range of people and reading abilities. Is it a book that can be read across all disciplines? Will the book choice foster conversation among all students and staff?
The committee chose This I Believe, The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women Vol.1, which is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow. The goal of summer reading is to foster a love of reading through student interest.
Through the selection of this text, our students will be active learners and make strong connections in preparation for September. It is an idea that lends itself to interdisciplinary teaching and students writing their own personal statements. We encourage families, community members and businesses to take part in the One Book, One School reading experience.