This is the third installment of our Alumni Impact Spotlight. This feature highlights the impact that alumni are having in their local communities.
Susan Busch EdM ’79, Elementary Remedial Education
What is your current position and place of employment?
I am a retired reading teacher, currently a family literacy consultant and a co-author of Empowering Families: Practical Ways to Involve Parents in Boosting Literacy, Grades PreK–5, published in 2015 by Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
What path led you to attaining your current position?
My undergraduate degree was in dance with an elementary education certification from Brockport. I have always loved to read and was attracted to the UB program because Dr. William Eller, Dr. Michael Kibby and Dr. Samuel Weintraub, all well known in the field of literacy, were professors during the 1970s.
How did your education in GSE prepare you for this position?
The very high standards of the previously mentioned professors were instrumental in my understanding the process of reading in young children and the procedures and assessments that are critical to diagnosing reading difficulties. As a clinician and supervisor in the UB Reading Clinic under Dr. Kibby, I came to recognize the importance of family support for the learner.
What did you learn in your degree program that was the most beneficial?
Reading Diagnosis and Treatment I and II made me look to research and the strengths and weaknesses of the individual learner to discover the instructional strategies that would be most beneficial to the struggling reader. To apply those strategies in a clinical setting and see the results was gratifying and exciting, for the learner and for the teacher.
What was your most memorable experience during your degree program?
The UB Reading Clinic in the basement of Baldy Hall was a wondrous place of learning from mistakes, sharing triumphs and disappointments, and celebrating reading. As a grad student, I had the opportunity to start a video learning library of work with clinicians and students. Through videotaping, viewing and reviewing the work of others, I gained practical knowledge and an appreciation of the intricacies of reading instruction and learning.
How have you impacted your local community through your work?
Over my 20 years at the Sidway Elementary School on Grand Island and Hoover Elementary School in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District, I developed and implemented parent education programs and family motivational events to encourage literacy at home. Since my retirement in 2012, I am now offering several of these programs at various local schools. Wanting to widely share my knowledge with others, I have co-authored, with Judy Bradbury, our book on family literacy, Empowering Families. I am volunteering in a classroom at the Drake School in North Tonawanda and also share my expertise with a reading teacher at St. Amelia’s in Tonawanda.
What accomplishments have you achieved that demonstrate the work you do?
I was one of the first to gain National Board of Professional Teaching Standards certification in literacy in Western New York in 2004. I serve on the board of the Niagara Frontier Reading Council (NFRC) and have received the New York State Reading Association’s Service to Reading Award, as well as the NFRC award. I also received a Key of Hope Award from Habitat for Humanity Buffalo for my work on behalf of NFRC, providing books to families at each habitat dedication.
What advice would you give to current students looking to enter your field?
There is so much more to teaching than the important work you do within the classroom. Learn about your students’ families, learn to look at each student as an individual with strengths and weaknesses. Use all the resources, including colleagues, specialists and professional organizations. And never stop learning.