Maureen Simen

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Maureen Simen

Interview by:Victoria Albacete and Sofia Moscowitz

Maureen Simen received her BA from Michigan-Flint in english and social sciences. She then pursued a masters in reading education from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. She has years of experience in curriculum design and development, as well as educational technology. Currently, Simen works at the Bonner Center for Service and Learning as the coordinator for America Reads. Outside of work, she enjoys fixing up her house as well as relaxing and reading the classics. Her love for reading is seen in her job, where she inspires college students involved in the America Reads program to volunteer in many schools around the Oberlin area to promote literacy.

Q: What is the America Reads program?

A: America Reads is a community service work-studies program run out of the Bonner Center for Service and Learning here at Oberlin College. My job as coordinator is to hire, train and place Oberlin College students to be reading tutors in the Oberlin city school district, grades pre-K through 8th. We also place tutors at Oberlin Early Childhood Center, which is a preschool program, and at the Boys and Girls Club, which is an after school program.

Its always heartening to hear about tutors who have gone on to teaching programs.

Q: Do you have any stories from the project that youd like to share?

A: I wish tutors were here, they tell the best stories about the kids. The hardest part of my job is that I dont actually get to work directly with the kids. The tutors are always telling me stories. I really enjoy hearing the stories, how much the tutors are connecting with the kids and how much theyre enjoying working with them. Its always heartening to hear about tutors who have gone on to teaching programs. Oberlin doesnt have a teaching program, so you pretty much have to move on to it.

Q: Who can get involved and how?

A: America Reads is open to Oberlin College students who have work-study and those without. I do place volunteers, primarily in Langston Middle School. Generally people who apply have worked with children before or have a very positive attitude about reading and want to give back to the community.

You can maintain the character of your home, but still have energy efficiency and have it be environmentally sound.

Q: How do you think that America Reads promotes social sustainability or community health?

A: The America Reads program provides support to the school district and individual teachers. Children are able to receive free one-on-one tutoring that the school district cannot afford. We work in conjunction with a classroom teacher or a site supervisor. In addition, at our literacy events we give away books, we have crafts, and face painting. We also sustain and hopefully improve college-town relations. We also hope that we sustain the very hard work that teachers do every day to help children learn to read.

Q: How do you think living here has changed your outlook on the environment and what you can do to be a part of the culture that the town has?

A: This is something that is not part of my job, but its something that I feel very strongly about, and that is the preservation of old homes in this town. Our house was built in 1910 and the first workman who came out immediately said, Oh, you need to rip out these windows and replace them. So theyre going to go in a landfill and theyre going to be replaced by a man-made object, and theyre not going to be right for my house because every window in my house was handcrafted for that space. That is something that I do talk about with people a little bit; ways that you can maintain the character of your home, but still have energy efficiency and have it be environmentally sound. We dont need more stuff thrown away. We need to find a way to work with the materials that are there. How many more beige houses do we need in this town? Theres a way that you can preserve wood, its not cheap, but whyd you buy an old home? That is something that I do think about a lot, and I do talk about, and Im researching and reading about old homes so that I can be informed when I am on my soap box about it.

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