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2016 Student Literacy Corps Luncheon


Monday, April 18, 2016
East Academic Building, Webster University, Webster Groves Campus

LiteracyCorps16Good afternoon everyone and welcome to our celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Webster University’s Student Literacy Corps.  I am delighted to welcome friends and founders of the Student Literacy Corps and tutors past and present to our luncheon today. What an extraordinary program you have brought to life, nurtured and made real for generations of readers in the St. Louis region.

Greetings to Debbie Schirmer, Sandy Hackenwerth and our friends from Maritz, to Barb LeClere from Energizer and a special welcome to Linda Herzig of Edgewell Personal Care.  All of us who have attended our annual Student Literacy Corps events know that we will hear stories from Kate and our tutors that will make us laugh and just as likely bring tears to our eyes, but please bear in mind that the small miracles they share with us today are made possible only by the affirmative decisions that our donor organizations have made, year in and year out, to continue to support the work of our student tutors.  We could not be more grateful and we hope that Webster’s message of thanks to our donors will resonate like the stories that we will hear from our tutors.

A quarter of a century – the expression itself resonates. Our Director, Kate Northcott, has been kind enough to calculate what a quarter century means in terms of Student Literacy Corps’ impact: Over the course of the last 25 years the Student Literacy Corps has trained over 700 tutors in reading and, since 2014, in math as well. In terms of struggling students - in 25 years our tutors have served over 10,000.

The program’s signature one-on-one model --matching tutors with individual students over the course of a semester or in some cases for an entire school year - has not changed in that time. But consider all that has changed in those 25 years!   Our first cohort of tutors will be receiving their AARP cards in the mail in just a few years. Born into the era of Watergate, Idi Amin and The Brady Bunch, these early tutors would have been among the first to have their scholastic experience impacted by the “pocket calculator”. I’m happy to report that this advanced technology has not crippled the mental abilities of this generation as so many feared at the time.  The young students who were served by this first generation of tutors would be about 35 years old today. Many are likely parents themselves-thanks to this program we can postulate that they are handing down the treasured tradition of reading together and sharing the enjoyment of reading with their children. 

From children of Watergate to today’s Digital Natives, the Student Literacy Corps program has touched the lives of so many. I know we are all eager to hear first-hand accounts so please enjoy your lunch and get to know the tutors, faculty and founders sitting with you at your table. After lunch, Brenda Fyfe, Dean of our School of Education and longtime SLC partner, will reflect on the program’s history and then Kate and our tutors will share their stories.

Closing Remarks:

Thank you to Bill, Molly and Nancy.

I began our event this afternoon remarking on the changes in American culture during the lifetime of our earliest Webster tutors and our most recent readers. Among those things that haven’t changed in 25 years, or in 100 years, are Webster University’s core principles to serve our communities and provide access to the tools required for individual excellence to those who otherwise might not have access.

If there is one thread that runs through the most recent decade of the Student Literacy Corps story, it is the passionately committed leadership and tireless devotion of our Director, Kate Northcott.

Kate, I want to ask you to come up to the podium. 

Kate, your “drop in the ocean” reflects honorably on the character of this institution and advances our mission in the most vital direction – that of service to community and service to our students. On behalf of all of us fortunate enough to be gathered her today and all of those you have touched over the years, I want to present you with this token of our esteem and appreciation. 

Thank you for your stewardship of the Student Literacy Corps and Congratulations to all of our tutors and supporters of the Student Literacy Corps.

Thank you and have a wonderful day.