The Reading Center, as initially conceptualized by retired JSU reading professors Dr. Joyce Harris and Dr. Virgia Gambrell, evolved in the 1970s as Reading Heights, the then Department of Reading’s signature program for enhancing the reading skills of students in primary through secondary grades through the School of Education at Jackson State University. The service of Drs. Harris and Gambrell through these and other facets of the Reading Center has been invaluable to the lives of many students and their families and to building the assessment and reading-based infrastructure of the College and University. Named for Drs. Joyce Harris (Professor of Reading and former Associate Dean) and Virgia Gambrell (Professor of Reading and former Chair of Reading), the Harris-Gambrell Reading Center was dedicated on January 16, 2008 as the opening activity of the annual Ruth R. Searcy Literacy Conference.
The Harris-Gambrell Reading Center (HGRC) bridges the gap between early childhood, elementary education and higher education through specially designed reading activities that maximize the P-20 experience by involving a unique blend of early learners, college students and graduate students.
Services available for early childhood and elementary students include pre-tests, post-tests and interventions. Instructional materials are provided to increase skill acquisition in decoding, fluency, and comprehension. Services are provided during after-school and summer sessions to students in a reading clinic environment with the purpose of improving reading abilities.
Services are provided by certified teachers enrolled in the Master’s of Science in Reading program (along with pre-service teachers) under the guidance of faculty in the Department of Elementary & Early Childhood Education. Students’ initial session include assessments to determine specific deficiencies that result in the development of a student profile and instructional reading plan.
HGRC staff works closely with students in the Lottie W. Thornton Early Childhood Center and Kids Kollege afterschool and summer programs. The HGRC also includes a Mobile Reading Component whereby HGRC staff conducts on-site reading assistance for area early childhood and elementary students.
In addition to the individualized services provided to early learners, involvement of the family in the reading-enhancement process and connecting reading to real world experiences are central parts of the Center’s operations. Instructional sessions are designed to allow parents to participate in an effort to demonstrate how they may provide reinforcement and extension of skill instructional activities.
Dr. Tracy Harris serves as the Director of the Harris-Gambrell Reading Center (HGRC). She is an associate professor in the Department of Elementary & Early Childhood Education with a current Mississippi Educator License for remedial reading (K-12) and psychometry (K-12). To facilitate the services of the HGRC, undergraduate teacher education students and graduate students in the Masters of Reading Education and Doctor of Education programs assist with assessments, interventions, and workshops under the guidance of faculty in the Department of Elementary & Early Childhood Education.
Dr. Tracy Harris, Director
P. O. Box 18380
Jackson, MS 39217
Jackson State University
College of Education & Human Development
Joseph H. Jackson School of Education Building
SEB Room 310