Mississippi University for Women’s Rose Ford is helping future teachers build a brighter tomorrow for their students.

Rose Ford

Thanks to a grant from the Mississippi Professional Educators (MPE), Ford’s “Sound Walls” project will support students’ ability to decode and recognize words by sight, which are critical components for reading comprehension.

The grant, which is close to $1,000, will enable Ford to build on the MPE grant she received last year and give the most promising future educators in The W’s School of Educators valuable tools to implement in their classrooms.

“Sound walls are backed by evidence for building a literacy-rich environment composed of visuals and learning strategies that activate more processing systems of the reading brain than alphabetized word walls still lingering in elementary classrooms,” said Ford, an instructor and Jumpstart Program Site Manager in The W’s School of Education. “The teacher and student materials included in these kits engage emergent readers through effective and collaborative phonological and orthographic processing that research shows to enhance students’ literacy skills.”    

MPE awards up to $40,000 in classroom grants to MPE members who wish to enhance instructional offerings or educational experiences for their students. The grant Ford received this year funded “Tools4Reading” kits to the six top-performing students enrolled in the SOE Early Literacy I course. Ford said the course is a “critical pathway course” in the education program and is known by students to be rigorous.

Prior to finals week, Ford and Dr. Bob Fuller, the chair of The W’s School of Education, honored all Early Literacy I students’ hard work and efforts, and the six top-performing Early Literacy I students received Tools4Reading instructional kits, which contained materials for building and using a sound wall to teach reading and spelling.  

The grant supports the ongoing work to improve literacy teacher preparation. In October, Fuller and Ford attended the Summit on the Science of Reading in Higher Education hosted by the Mount St. Joseph University Center for Reading Science in Syracuse, New York. The summit enabled Ford and Fuller to collaborate with colleagues and researchers from across the country, gain support in strengthening the literacy teacher preparation program at The W and explore and share resources to align literacy courses and field experiences to the science of reading research.  

Following the summit, Ford and Fuller attended the 6th Annual Conference of The Reading League, where Ford reconnected with Dr. Antonio Fierro, a member of the conference committee. Fierro has served as a mentor and has supported Ford’s work to ensure The W’s teacher candidates are prepared to teach reading effectively. He also contributed to Ford’s idea for the grant.     

Ford said Louisa C. Moats, a respected literacy researcher and author who spoke at the conference in New York, said it best in an article titled “Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science: What Expert Teachers of Reading Should Know and Be Able to Do” in the journal “American Educator,” which is published by the American Federation of Teachers.

“Just about all children can be taught to read and deserve no less from their teachers,” Moats wrote. “Teachers, in turn, deserve no less than the knowledge, skills and supported practice that will enable their teaching to succeed. There is no more important challenge for education to undertake.” 

Founded in 1979, MPE is a statewide professional association with approximately 13,500 teachers, administrators and non-certified staff from kindergarten to graduate school level. Its top priority is the education and achievement of students.

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

Be Bold. Tower with Blue.