I have a long history with Family Learning Institute; some casual, some less so. Ed Stein, my husband, knew Larry Sperling long before we met in 1982. When Doris was thinking about retirement, she asked us over for dinner and shared her views on the need for literacy programming, especially among underrepresented children. We are committed to our emotional and financial support.
I worked at EMU as an instructor in medieval European history for five years, then worked for the rest of my career as an instructor and administrator at U-M. I knew nothing of children’s education except that I cared about it. When I told my dean, Janet Weiss, of my intent to retire, she asked me to first consider what I wanted to do with my time, then she offered what’s called “phased retirement” (working part-time for two years).
Beginning in 2013 I devoted my extra time to FLI, which I supported as a result of my long-time acquaintance with the organization. I have been involved actively with Family Learning Institute since then as a reading coach, volunteer writing instructor, substitute, and now a Board member since 2018.
Why do I do it, especially given my college teaching background? Well, I’ve served on the boards of several non-profits, but most importantly is my personal history. I could read and write before I began kindergarten and since then have been acutely aware of how valuable reading and writing are. There is nothing more vital to childhood development. The moments that FLI students’ faces lit up when they understand a story or the meaning of a figure of speech or even of an adjective is wonderful.