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Thursday, March 18, 1999

Funds Raised for Operating Expenses of May Literacy Lab

SALISBURY, MD--A new generation of area children is benefiting from the lives and memories of two retired Salisbury State University professors--whom the children will never know.

Friends and family of Dr. John B. May, approaching age 90, and his late wife, Dr. Florence Simonds May, have raised some $30,000 toward the first-year operating expenses of the May Literacy Lab. The lab is being used to help teach area children to read.

"I can‚t think of a more appropriate way to honor my uncle and late aunt," said Dr. Lee May, an SSU math professor who has earned statewide accolades for excellence in teaching.

"The lab seems even more fitting in light of my uncle‚s own struggles."

John May‚s interest in reading and learning disabilities goes back to his studies as a graduate student when he was "partly trying to learn something about myself," he said. "I was dyslexic," and as a child had to endure teasing over a slowness in reading.

He persevered, earning his doctorate in education and psychology from the University of Virginia. He joined the SSU faculty in 1939 and launched a distinguished career in teaching and public service. He touched the lives of many, founding the the Lower Shore Association for Children with Learning Disabilities, the oldest organization of its kind in Maryland.

Throughout their careers much of the Mays‚ work focused on children and young people. Last fall, during the 50th reunion of SSU‚s Class of 1948, members, under the leadership of Marshall Moore, decided they wanted to honor the Mays by helping support a Seidel School of Education and Professional Studies‚ proposal for funding a literacy lab.

According to Michael H. Jessup Jr., SSU‚s assistant director of annual giving, class members, friends, and nieces and nephews of the Mays contributed or pledged $30,000, meeting the lab‚s first year operating budget of $28,000.

Jessup and SSU Alumni Director Roy S. Perdue give Moore, a lifelong friend of the Mays, high marks for making the first year‚s budget a reality. "Marshall has always shown a keen interest in educating children and in promoting Salisbury State. His work will help both the community and provide tools for teachers on campus, paid for with private dollars."

Already the lab is putting new and quality reading materials into the hands of professors and graduate students who are working directly with area children, said Dr. Nancy Michelson, Master of Education coordinator. Tape recorders, the latest in testing packets and awarding-winning children‚s books including titles such as Jumanji and The Indian in the Cupboard are bringing a new excitement to the teaching of reading.

"School systems have begun hiring reading specialists once again," said Michelson. "They (the systems) realize that today‚s school children face greater literacy demands than at any other point in our country‚s history.

"The May Lab is a necessity for a graduate program that prepares teachers to help children read. I‚m excited by the possibilities it opens for us." Currently, SSU has 36 students enrolled in the master‚s reading specialist track, with 45 more pending admission into the program.

For more information about the May Literacy Lab, please call Jessup at 410-548-2074.


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