Jeanine Larson Dobbins, coordinator of the Missouri Statewide Early Literacy Intervention Program based at Southeast Missouri State University, recently had a statewide literacy education award named in her honor.

The Executive Committee of the Missouri Association of Reading Recovery Educators (MARRE) recently voted to establish the Jeanine Larson Dobbins Early Literacy Education Award, which will be presented annually to individuals who have made significant contributions to literacy education in the State of Missouri. The first awards were presented on March 31.

The statewide award, according to the MARRE Executive Committee, recognizes her vision to have all Missouri children read at or above grade level in their early elementary school experience. Dobbins has taken her vision to Jefferson City, Mo., and has worked diligently to communicate it to leaders around the state, including state legislators and the late Gov. Mel Carnahan. Dobbins' success in this mission secured state funding to provide specialized teacher training and professional development.

The Missouri Statewide Early Literacy Intervention Program (MSELIP) is the result of Dobbins' zeal and leadership as well. Since its inception, the grant has funded training for 20 Reading Recovery teacher leaders.

The Missouri Statewide Early Literacy Intervention Program is designed to ensure that all Missouri children will be able to read by the third grade. The program delivers Reading Recovery to first graders and literacy support services to kindergarten through third grade children. The program educates teachers to work with children at risk of being reading failures. The Missouri Statewide Early Literacy Intervention Program complements the Reading Recovery program and is allowing more children with reading difficulties to be reached.

Reading Recovery helps many of the lowest 15 to 20 percent of first-grade students read as well as the average students of the class. It prevents failure by helping children make accelerated achievement gains in reading and writing through individual instruction. The early literacy intervention program supplements the Reading Recovery program, providing additional support, through small groups, for first-grade children who need early intervention, but for whom there is no space in a Reading Recovery program.

"I was deeply honored and humbled to be recognized," Dobbins said. "I have worked in the field of literacy education since 1972, and it meant so much to be recognized by my peers for making a difference in literacy education in the State of Missouri. What keeps me going in this career field is that we see growth with both children and teachers in the field of literacy education. This program (Reading Recovery) empowers children and their teachers. Literacy education has been my passion for years, and I plan to continue to serve the literacy needs and to work with policy leaders to accomplish our goals for many years to come."

Between 1997 and this year, more than 700 statewide Reading Recovery teachers will have made a difference in the literacy skills of more than 30,000 elementary school children.

The Jeanine Larson Dobbins Early Literacy Education Award was inaugurated and the first awards were presented at a luncheon during the Seventh Annual Conference of MARRE March 31 at Tan-Tar-A at the Lake of the Ozarks. The five recipients each received a framed certificate and a $100 gift certificate to purchase professional development books on early literacy. More than 350 educators attended the awards luncheon.

The five statewide recipients selected for the award were:

Linda Robert of the Cape Girardeau Public Schools
Robert collaborated with Dobbins in conducting significant Reading Recovery longitudinal studies. These longitudinal studies were instrumental in obtaining local, state and federal funding for Reading Recovery throughout Missouri.

Lindsey Minson of the Jackson Public Schools
Minson evaluated the Reading Recovery program for more than a year and then laid the groundwork for Dobbins to meet with state legislators, including Minson's father, State Sen. Sidney Johnson of northwest Missouri, about the program.

Freddie Thomas of the Kansas City Public Schools
Thomas has been a pioneering Reading Recovery teacher in the Kansas City School System. The Kansas City Schools have been involved in the program since 1998.

Wanda Jacobi of the Central Missouri Reading Recovery Site, where she is employed by the Gasconade County District.
Jacobi conducted groundbreaking research correlating success in Reading Recovery with the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) Communication Arts Assessment conducted in third grade. This research is important to the future of MSELIP.

Lillian Sharon Cox of the Springfield Public Schools
Cox is the current president of MARRE and coordinated the largest and most successful MARRE conference to date. Under her leadership, the organization has increased its membership and visibility.