Donation designed to help teachers, students

Monday, May 19, 2014 6:30:00 PM

Three College of Education and Leadership faculty members are donating 30 copies of “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio plus a companion curriculum they created to Stritch partnership school Madison Elementary in Wauwatosa, Wis.

School of Education associate dean Dr. Jennifer Fontanini, graduate instructor Linda Carpenter, and former associate dean Dr. Linda Neiman will present the books within the next couple of weeks to the 5th grade team at Madison Elementary. All Stritch graduates, the 5th grade teachers will meet with Fontanini, Carpenter and Neiman to review the curriculum and discuss plans for incorporating the books into their lesson plans at the beginning of the 2014-15 academic year.

“The book is about a boy born with a facial deformity that prevented him from attending a mainstream school – until now,” Fontanini said. “An ordinary kid with an extraordinary face, he is about to start 5th grade. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances? It’s a great, age-appropriate book about kindness, leadership and things that 5th graders need as they transition into middle school. The unit plan and read-aloud guide for ‘Wonder’ are high-quality curriculum and include an anti-bullying curriculum as well as solid common core standards from the state.”

The Stritch faculty members chose Madison Elementary to be the recipient of the donation since the school consistently partners with the College of Education and Leadership every semester by accommodating several pre-service teachers for hands-on classroom training. In addition, many of the school’s teachers are Stritch alumni, so the two schools share both personal and professional connections.

“The principal at Madison Elementary, Lori Lester, is committed to working with Cardinal Stritch University’s teacher preparation programs from the School of Education and provides high-quality experiences for our students,” Fontanini said. “We know the teachers are doing what we have taught them and so it’s really a good partnership.”

Fontanini, Carpenter and Neiman enjoy their own partnership not only as colleagues within the College of Education and Leadership, but also as co-owners of Surviving to Thriving LjL, a limited liability company that creates and promotes high-quality curricula and resources focused on literature and social studies lessons written for elementary, middle and high school teachers.

Using a portion of the profits from sales of their “Wonder” materials, the three decided they wanted to support Madison Elementary by offering not only the donation of books and the support material, but by providing ongoing guidance as the Madison teachers implement the curriculum.