tutor and child
tutor and child
UTSA students Margaret Oleary-Tyler (top) and Marcia Wood
(bottom) tutor childen at Plaza de Lectura

UTSA's Plaza de Lectura celebrates success

By Kris Rodriguez
Public Affairs Specialist

(April 24, 2009)--For more than a decade, the Plaza de Lectura (Reading Place) at the UTSA Downtown Campus has provided tutoring assistance, helping children with reading problems to become better readers. To commemorate their efforts, a weeklong celebration, April 23-29, will include special guests, events and activities.

On Tuesday, April 28, UTSA President Ricardo Romo will join local children's author Xavier Garza, Plaza de Lectura staff, tutors and area families to recognize those accomplishments.

Since its inception, Plaza de Lectura staff and tutors have helped more than 1,500 children in 106 area school districts with reading problems that may not have been severe enough to be classified as disabilities.

Miriam Martinez, professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching, was the first director of the Plaza de Lectura and remembers those early years when she had to contact publishers and beg them to donate reading materials.

"I would explain to them what we wanted to do and ask them to donate, because although we could not do it now, we would be buying from them in the future," said Martinez. "That's how it started, and it has been a very rewarding experience ever since to see how it has grown."

In addition to providing valuable tutoring assistance for children of low-income families, the plaza has offered UTSA undergraduate students a chance to gain valuable field experience with very close faculty supervision.

"We have been blessed to have people step up into the role as director of the facility who have had wonderful vision and have really grown from our very bare beginnings," said Martinez.

Charmaine Bride, Plaza de Lectura's current director, has been able to make technology a very rich part of the experience by providing numerous enrichment opportunities for the children.

"Our tutors use Web-based tools and resources in conjunction with hands-on reading and writing activities," said Bride. "The computers create tutoring sessions that are innovative, creative, immediate and effective."

This semester, in addition to the tutoring sessions, students are creating comics using a software program called "Comic Life." The program allows students to expand their knowledge base by becoming brainstormers, editors and publishers.

At a cost of $25 per semester for 10-12 sessions, Plaza de Lectura will continue to serve as a reasonably priced resource for low-income parents of children with reading problems to find assistance to help them overcome those barriers.

For more information, call (210) 458-2649.

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