Dr. Jennifer Marchessault, reading specialist at Crestwood Intermediate (CWI), was recently named the Virginia State Literacy Association’s Ofie T. Rubin Reading Teacher of the Year.
The Virginia State Literacy Association (VSLA) presents this annual recognition to a teacher whose commitment to literacy is exemplary. Dr. Marchessault has dedicated most of her educational career to literacy. She has helped countless primary and secondary level students learn to read and has also instructed teachers at the graduate level to be Reading Specialists. Thanks to her role as a Navy wife, Dr. Marchessault has had the opportunity to work in many different schools.
“While my husband was still active duty in the Navy, we moved around to different states. I have been fortunate to work in school systems and for universities in seven different states. These experiences have provided me with a unique perspective on education and reading, from coast-to-coast. I’ve studied under some of the most well-respected names in the field of literacy, and I strive every day to impart their knowledge through my work. I can honestly say that becoming a Reading Specialist was my calling, and I don’t regret it for one minute. Programs will change, curricula will change, but the foundation will always stay the same; I am proud to be part of the team that lays the foundation for our children.”
Although her experience in teaching students to read is diverse, she has never worked with a principal who also served as a reading specialist prior to teaching at CWI. Through working with her principal, Dr. Tonita Phillips, Dr. Marchessault realized that the impact of a Reading Specialist does not necessarily end at the classroom door. She praises the support of her principal, Dr. Phillips, who is able to influence the school culture and climate with an emphasis on reading. Dr. Phillips values the importance of Dr. Marchessault’s work in the school as both a reading specialist and a school leader. “Jennifer’s role as a Reading Specialist is instrumental in communicating division and state expectations to the Administrative Team and staff to assist us with making informed instructional decisions for teaching and learning. She works collaboratively with our media specialist to share the love of reading to both young and old alike!”
The Ofie T. Rubin Award provides a $1,000 prize to be used towards professional development. Dr. Marchessault has submitted a proposal to VSLA to build a Mobile Media Center. Knowing that her CWI students only get one day a week to check out books, she wanted to provide extra opportunities to put books in their hands. The Mobile Media Center will house books that students can check out between visits to the library. It will also include a section for teachers to select guided reading packs for students that are on the requested levels. Dr. Marchessault explains, “It is a smaller version of the library and Reading Room that comes to the door! I am working with our media specialist, and our [building’s current teacher of the year], Christina Askew, to ensure we stock it with great titles!”
Dr. Marchessault’s philosophy as an educator is centered on her dedication to reading – “Reading is the gateway to lifelong learning. I want to see the kids get excited about reading. When you create that excitement, it will carry them through life. They aren’t going to take tests forever, but wouldn’t it be fantastic if they kept reading for pleasure, forever?”
It would be fantastic. Congratulations, Dr. Marchessault!