This past Thursday night I attended the Ennis William Cosby graduate certificate ceremony at Fordham University for cohort 8 in the "Young Readers at Risk" program. The 24 scholarship recipients were recognized for "demonstrating proficiency in providing beginning reading instruction and a sense of social justice and the belief that all children can learn to read".
The Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation was established by Bill and Camille Cosby to continue their son Ennis' dream "to help children find the self-esteem, support and learning techniques that would open the doors of accomplishment and joy to them" (taken from Ennis' Gift: A film about learning differences).
Ennis, who was dyslexic, was dedicated to helping children who struggle to read and write and the Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation has ensured that his dream continues.
So far, there have been 234 New York City public school teachers who have graduated from this 18 credit program. They have touched the lives of 25,000 children.
I was fortunate enough to have been accepted to Cohort 3 and I can honestly state that this program has not only changed my way of teaching but also my life. It directly influenced my decision to pursue my doctoral studies and opened the door for me to become an adjunct instructor at Fordham University.
It was a night of celebration and reflection. It was also a night mixed with bittersweet emotions because, as of this writing, the foundation has decided not to continue the program when the current cohort (Cohort 9) graduates next January. This means that there will not be a Cohort 10 - at least not this summer. I remain hopeful that when funding is available in the future (or my pleas to Oprah are heard) that the program will pick up again where it left off.
Difficult economic times are hitting us in unforeseen ways.
However, for the moment we celebrate the teachers who make a difference.
We give thanks to the Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation and to the Cosby family.
I give my personal thanks to Dr. Joanna Uhry, director of the program at Fordham University (pictured with me during the tutoring practicum) who has done so much for me. Her belief in my abilities and her kindness, both professionally and personally, has been inspirational, motivating and heart warming. But, more on that in future posts...
Congratulations to Cohort 8!
Top picture: Julie Shoemaker at podium. Seated: (left to right) Dr. Joanna Uhry, Cayne Letizia, Gary Wellbrock, Erika Cosby, Erinn Cosby.