Connie’s ‘very favorite book’ for children
is Doreen Cronin’s Click, Clack, Moo, with charming
illustrations by Betsy Lewin. They can be seen in an exhibit
of children’s book art at the Kemerer Museum of Decoratve
Arts, 427 N. New St., Bethlehem, through January 4.
The last week in October, when the rest of
the nation was buying Halloween candy in bulk, Connie Unger
was handing out a different
kind of treat—and no tricks.
Connie, assistant professor
of education and a specialist in children’s
literature, was in Hershey at the helm of the Keystone State Reading Association’s
It was in Hershey because the convention
center is large enough to hold 2,500 people, which was
the attendance at the 2003 conference.
Not all were K-12 teachers—there were
school superintendents and college professors—and
not everyone was from Pennsylvania. The size and scope of the meeting
brought educators from across the country, including “big
contingents from California and Texas.”
is the state chapter of the International Reading Association,
which has 80,000 members worldwide. “I don’t think there’s
another organization in the educational world that’s as large
as this one [IRA] is,” Connie says.
She brought 45 Moravian education
students to serve as assistants, registrars, and session chairs,
which enabled them to attend at no
charge. It was the
midpoint of their student-teaching semester, when they had the week
off anyway, and
she was able to obtain a SOAR grant for their poster presentations
of a reading strategies
project from their pre-student teaching seminar. This helped underwrite
the cost of their lodging.
“It was thrilling for our students
to see so many people and have so many topics from which
to choose,” says
The conference featured some 30 author-illustrators
of well-known children’s books, including a regional
contingent that included Kay Winters, Doylestown; Sally
Keehn, Allentown; David
Lubar, Nazareth; and Pat Brisson, Phillipsburg, N.J. Nationally
known writers included Steven Kroll, Linda Oatman High,
and Patricia MacLachlan (Sarah, Plain and Tall).
topics—and here Connie gives a great deal
of credit to Lynn Malok, an adjunct instructor in education
at Moravian, for her help in organizing this mammoth event—ranged
from reading tests to classroom book groups, spelling to
phonics, children’s non-fiction, writing, readers’ theater,
alphabets, teaching strategies, and an update on the No
Child Left Behind act.
With student literacy a hot topic in political
circles, local, state, and national, there are all kinds
of government programs, assessments, and
that teachers must know. Connie says with
a sigh: “At least there’s plenty of money, federal money, available
for reading programs.”
Even Pennsylvania’s secretary of education,
Vicki Phillips, presented a session on “The New Plan for Public
first time any secretary of education has attended a KSRA conference.
joined the faculty at Moravian in 1993 after 27 years in the Northampton
School District, where she started as a kindergarten teacher. Then “they
pulled me out” to become director of staff development for all
grades in the district.
For her, teaching at the college level has
the same philosophy as teaching in elementary school. “We
have to construct meaning through ourselves,” she
says. “If my kids aren’t talking, they’re not learning.
A classroom where only the teacher’s voice is heard is a classroom
where only the teacher is learning.”
The conference coordinator
job goes to the president-elect of the association, so Connie will
become president of KSRA in June, at
the start of the
2004-2005 academic year.
“It is so much fun, playing with literature,
and that’s what I want to pass
on to my students,” she says. “If they love lit,
their kids will love lit.”
And speaking of children’s books: Moravian celebrated
National Children’s Book Week by collecting
nearly 450 books and $138 to purchase more books.
Phyllis Walsh, coordinator
of community service, thanks Delta Tau Delta fraternity
and Betsy Foley ’04, Rockland, Massachusetts, from C3, who helped sort,
pack, and deliver the books to the Salvation Army, Turning Point, and the South
Bethlehem Neighborhood Center.
singer Frederica von Stade replaces
opera singer Dawn Upshaw for the
Great Artist series. (Upshaw has
a throat infection.)
Unger steers the Keystone State Reading
Association annual meeting.
in Their Eyes:
local children sing "Morning Star" at
recycling efforts on campus.
Theological Seminary and Marywood University
to hold signing ceremony for new joint
of International Education Week on campus.
band performs at area band festival.