Upon presentation of the 2010 International Reading Association Distinguished Service Award IRA published the following:
IRA Past President John C. Manning works to strengthen ties between universities, schools
Perhaps it was his initial experience as a grammar school teacher working with older students in a K–8 school that led John C. Manning to remain so heavily focused on the classroom throughout his academic career as a teacher educator at the University of Minnesota. No “ivory tower” professor, even today he goes out and works in two public schools every week. And for years he worked with low-performing schools in some of Mississippi’s most impoverished areas.
“I am very much interested in professors getting out into the public schools and becoming involved in what the teachers and students are doing,” Manning said. He always seeks out schools and classes where children and teachers need extra help, but stresses that the benefits are mutual. “It’s not just something I bring to them,” he said. “It’s something they bring to me as well.” He believes professors can gain valuable first-hand knowledge about what is happening on a daily basis in the schools by visiting classrooms regularly.
Manning looks forward to working with students, and the students look forward to his visits—in part because he always reads to them. He builds a strong rapport with the children, as evidenced by the fact that when he recently missed some scheduled visits, he was flooded by notes from students, all of which he answered personally.
While Manning values (and has done his fair share of) academic research, he values great teaching even more. He said that his mentors—Donald Durrell of Boston University and Ted Clymer and Guy Bond of the University of Minnesota—were not only noted researchers but also great teachers. “I’ve been grateful for the professors and teachers I had who showed me what needed to be done rather than told me what needed to be done,” Manning said.
Manning has used that “show, don’t tell” philosophy in working with thousands of teacher candidates over the years. Every reading course he taught had a practicum attached, offering students a chance to try out their new skills and knowledge in real-life classroom settings. Furthermore, he never sent students into the schools unless he went with them.
All of these experiences led Manning to establish the IRA John Chorlton Manning Public School Service Award, a US$10,000 award for “professors of reading education who have demonstrated their commitment to public education and who spend significant time working with public school teachers and their students in classrooms demonstrating effective approaches and techniques shown to improve reading instruction.”
The award was established in 2005, and the recipients to date have been JoBeth Allen, Judith A. Scott, D. Ray Reutzel, Karen A. Smith, and Denise Johnson. All exemplify the same deep interest in strengthening ties between universities and schools.
With schools facing more challenges than ever before, Manning said, “We need teachers who are truly excellent and want to make things better.” He hopes that forging partnerships between universities and schools will help prepare teacher candidates to become “not only great teachers but also great and supportive people.”
Service and more
Manning first learned about the International Reading Association soon after beginning his graduate studies at Boston University with Donald Durrell in 1957. For more than 50 years, he has used Association resources to aid his teaching and research.
But he has given far more than he received. In addition to his generous funding of the IRA John Chorlton Manning Public School Service Award, he has made other significant contributions to the Association, both financial and in terms of service.
Over the years, Manning has served on IRA committees, written for IRA publications, spoken at IRA conferences at all levels, served on the Board of Directors, and served as IRA President in 1985–1986. He received the Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading Award in 1989.
“I’m very honored and very pleased to be of some service to the Association,” Manning said. For his service and contributions to IRA, Manning will be honored at the 2010 Annual Convention in Chicago.
A Remembrance of
(Deceased, September 6, 2010)
2011 Reading Hall of Fame Annual Meeting
Orlando, Florida, May 10, 2011