Jean Casey, who joined the Department of Teacher Education in 1985, was recognized twice recently by the California Reading Association (CRA) and Computer Using Educators (CUE) Inc. for her efforts to introduce computer technology into early classroom education.
Casey received the Margaret Lynch Exemplary Service Award from the CRA and the Gold Disk Award from CUE for her contributions to the organization and advancement of educational technology in teaching and learning.
The CRA, the state branch of the International Reading Association, offers the Lynch award every year for exemplary service and contributions to the field of reading. Casey feels one reason for her CRA recognition is her long record of publication about the uses of technology in reading instruction. She is the author of Early Literacy: The Empowerment of Technology and Creating the Early Literacy Classroom: Activities for Using Technology to Empower Elementary Students, both from Libraries Unlimited in 2000.
Casey is a pioneer researcher on the use of talking computers with young children for early preschool literacy and using auditory feedback in learning throughout elementary school. She conducted 17 years of research on early literacy and how technology can help make young students successful with early reading and writing. She created TeacherNet in 1989, the first use of online e-mail communication between university supervisor, master teacher and student teacher on the West Coast, which doubled the amount of coaching and feedback for students.
Casey received the Distinguished Teacher Education Scholar CalStateTEACH and the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2004 from the University of Illinois’ College of Education. She received her bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Illinois in 1960, her master’s from CSULB in 1976 as a reading specialist and a Ph.D. from USC in 1984.
In 1985 Casey helped found the Beach Cities Reading Council, which meets four times a year and brings together reading specialists and teachers who serve 10 area school districts in such places as Long Beach and Torrance.
“The council represents their chance to get together and share information over dinner,” she said. “More than 200 members have joined in 10 years.”
Casey also was pleased to receive the Gold Disk award from CUE.
“Two different groups have recognized the same body of work,” she explained. “One group, CUE, represents the computer people and one group, the CRA, represents teachers.”
The Gold Disk is CUE’s oldest recognition program since its founding in 1983. A Gold Disk is recognition of the recipient’s contributions to CUE and to technology in learning. “I felt very honored to win the Gold Disk,” she said. “When I first joined CUE, I saw the group’s founders receive this same award. I felt they were lucky then, the same way I feel lucky now to win it myself.”
Casey sees these awards as a way to give much-needed exposure to the role of computers in the classroom. “This is not so much exposure for me as it is for parents and early education teachers who want to know more about technology in the classroom,” she said.
“I know in my heart there are thousands of children who could be more successful in the classroom if they had the chance to use technology instead of often being mislabeled as a special education student or put in the low group. A talking word processor like KidWorks Deluxe can help a student become an author in one sitting. The computer is their ticket to literacy.”