When it comes to literacy, Renton Technical College has a reading “rock star” in Michele Lesmeister, faculty member in the Adult Basic Education department. Through what is known as Reading Apprenticeship, developed by the San Francisco-based nonprofit research organization WestEd, Michele’s work has had a global impact in the lives of students and put RTC on the national map for successful literacy initiatives.
Michele first discovered Reading Apprenticeship (RA) at an Achieving the Dream Strategies Institute conference in Atlanta in 2008. “Reading is foundational to so much of what we learn,” said Michele, “The Reading Apprenticeship model teaches faculty how to mentor their students within their discipline-based instruction. I immediately saw how powerful this approach could be to show students how expert readers read and to make it relevant to what they were learning in the classroom.”
For Michele, it is ultimately about what she calls, “developing a community of thinkers and talkers about reading.” “Community and technical colleges have seen a widening gap of readers,” said Michele, “We take the students wherever they are and teach them how to dig out valuable content when they read. Those experiences are powerful and so rewarding when you see the students’ eyes light up and fully engage with reading.”
Working with WestEd, Michele developed the first online class for RA training and to-date, more than 10,000 teachers and faculty members from across the country have been trained. Michele’s work has been featured in national publications and in 2010, RTC became the first college to pilot the online RA instruction. The college now hosts a RA conference and over 500 people from around the country have attended to learn about mentoring and best practices within the RA model.
The 2017 National Reading Apprenticeship Conference is scheduled for March 10-11 at RTC. For more information contact Michele Lesmeister at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 235-2352 Ext. 2055.
For RTC faculty member Michele Lesmeister and her husband Al, philanthropy is a way of life. As RTC Foundation benefactors, the Lesmeisters have invested more than $20,000 into the lives of students during Michele’s 27-year tenure in the Basic Studies program. Their faithful giving has helped countless students realize their education goals and benefitted families throughout our community. They have our deepest gratitude.
“We believe in the mission of this college, what they offer students and the freedom faculty have to be change makers.” - Michele Lesmeister