AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas Center for Reading and Language Arts, an internationally acclaimed facility for reading research and educator professional development at The University of Texas at Austin, has been renamed the Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts.
The center has been renamed in recognition of three decades of contributions to Texas schools by educator, university alumna and College of Education Foundation Advisory Council member Vaughn Gross.
“One only has to look over the accomplishments of Vaughn’s long career to see how dedicated she is and how creative she has been in her quest to teach young people,” Dr. Larry Faulkner, president of The University of Texas at Austin, said at a ceremony at which the renaming was announced. “She once remarked that she is passionate about excellence and student achievement, and her record clearly demonstrates that she means it.”
Vaughn, who recently retired as assistant superintendent for Richardson Independent School District, began her professional career with that school district as a special education teacher. Her tireless efforts and unique gift for recognizing and meeting the varied needs of schools and students were soon rewarded, and she was named principal of Brentfield Elementary School and later of Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet School.
During her time as principal of the magnet school, the campus earned exemplary status from the Texas Education Agency. While she was at Brentfield, it was named a National Blue Ribbon School and gained recognition for its supportive environment and high academic achievement. Gross pioneered a program to fulfill the specific needs of “middle-of-the-class” children, those students who were not formally designated as gifted or specially challenged.
Gross’s extraordinary efforts to spur student achievement and personalize education have been noted by the magazine Texas Monthly, where she was cited for taking time every six weeks to write a personal note on more than 600 students’ report cards. In addition, she has received the National Parent Teachers Association Life Achievement Award and the Richardson Association of Children with Learning Disabilities’ Teacher of the Year Award.
“I have no doubt that there are many responsible and productive men and women in Texas today,” said Faulkner, “who can trace their roots to one of Vaughn’s schools. We are very honored to place Vaughn’s name on the reading center and grateful that she is part of the Longhorn family.”
Created in 1996 when then-Governor George W. Bush approached The University of Texas at Austin College of Education for assistance with his newly initiated Texas Reading Initiative, the reading center quickly became a success under the leadership of Dr. Sharon Vaughn.
Since 1997, the center’s funding level has risen from $1 million to $13.7 million. It has created and provided professional development opportunities for Texas educators, conducted research on effective reading instruction techniques, developed early reading instruments and linked faculty members at 54 Texas institutions of higher learning to enhance implementation of cutting-edge research practices. As it continues to diversify its resources, the center has been able to broaden its focus, move beyond Texas and enhance the efforts of national researchers and educators who are working to help all children read on grade level by third grade.
Frequently cited by Faulkner as a stellar example of the university’s positive impact on K-12 education, the reading center recently made its reading curriculum available online to all teachers. To date, more than 100,000 Texas teachers have accessed the online course materials, which include interactive sessions where teachers may collaborate with colleagues, design action plans, discuss skills, evaluate their reading programs and practice using assessment data to group students and monitor student progress.
For more information contact: Kay Randall, College of Education, 512-232-3910.