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Leigh Van Horn says her mission as an associate professor of Language and Literacy at the University of Houston-Downtown is empowering students and changing lives through literacy.
At UHD, Van Horn teaches Foundation of Literacy, Early Language and Literacy and other similar courses in the Department of Urban Education. In the community, she works to improve the literacy skills of at-risk high school students and single fathers from Houston Independent School District's Phillis Wheatley High School as part of the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program.
She also created a Family Literacy Project in 2006 at the House of Tiny Treasures, Houston's only nationally accredited early childhood development center for homeless children. UHD students engage children and parents in literary activities and observe the family dynamics for ways to enhance their own teaching abilities.
"I want my students to participate with me to give them practical and authentic experiences in the field and because the community needs us here," Van Horn said. "This is the most important thing I've done in my life."
"Nothing can compare to my time at UHD," Van Horn said. "We are creating something incredible here." Van Horn credits the University's culture of teamwork and collaboration for its success.
In addition to conducting research and teaching at UHD, Van Horn is also a published author. Her books focus on educating teachers about reading and writing strategies and include "Reading on the Edge: Enabling, Empowering and Engaging Middle School Readers" and "Creating Literary Communities in Middle School."
"These UHD students allow you to give all you can give and they're not afraid to interact with you," Van Horn said. "They deserve our best and it is such an honor to teach them."
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Last updated or reviewed on 8/9/11