UMO Division of Education Awarded Grant to Establish Reading Clinic 

UMO Division of Education Awarded Grant to Establish Reading Clinic 

November 7, 2023
Contact:  Rhonda Jessup, Director of Public Relations 

MOUNT OLIVE – The University of Mount Olive Division of Education has been awarded a $23,000 grant from the Anonymous Trust to support the implementation of a pilot Reading Clinic at the University.  The clinic, which began this fall is helping a select number of North Duplin Elementary first through third graders with reading comprehension.   

There are currently 10 students in the program who are paired with an equal number of junior and senior level UMO education majors from a variety of disciplines including ag education, art education, elementary education, etc.  “No matter the discipline, we are all teachers of reading,” said Assistant Dean of Education Dr. Amanda Bullard-Maxwell. 

The North Duplin students travel to UMO twice weekly for a one-hour session on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:30 to 5:30 PM.  One UMO student travels to North Duplin to meet her students.  “We did not want to have any barriers to prevent students from being able to participate,” said Bullard-Maxwell.   

“The students are excited to learn,” says Associate Professor of Education and Co-Director of the Reading Clinic Dr. Ashley Johnson.  ‘They always arrive with a smile on their faces.  One student even brags to his parents that he is ‘going to college,’ on his tutoring days.” 

The catalyst for the Reading Clinic came about as a result of the Science of Reading Self Study which recognized a need for enhancing the hands-on practical experience of elementary education and special education majors.  From that study a need was also identified for better reading comprehension skills among area elementary students.  To address those situations, Johnson came up with a proposal for the pilot Reading Clinic and submitted a grant application to Anonymous Trust.  

Grant funds have helped to cover the establishment of the clinic on the first floor of Henderson Hall, provided research-based materials such as flyleaf decodable text, and supported the hiring of a part time project coordinator to get the program up and running.  Project Coordinator Kristie Ruiz, a bilingual fourth grade teacher from Johnston County Schools, has several years of clinic setting experience.   

“Kristie has been a real blessing in getting our clinic up and running so quickly and seamlessly,” said Bullard-Maxwell.   

According to Ruiz, students in the program are administered an initial evaluation to test their reading comprehension, competency, and recall levels.  The resulting data helps Ruiz develop an individualized instruction plan for each student.  A mid-year evaluation is set to gauge progress and determine what, if any, tweaks need to be made to ensure that each student is excelling at the anticipated rate.   

“The UMO Reading Clinic is an innovative initiative that exemplifies a win-win opportunity for our students and Duplin County,” stated Dr. Bullard-Maxwell, Assistant Dean for Education at UMO. “Not only does it provide our students with valuable hands-on experience, but it also aligns perfectly with our university covenant, emphasizing the importance of community engagement and making a positive impact in our area.” 

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University was founded by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists. For more information, visit 

UMO English education major Alyssa Best of Mount Olive works with Javier Valdez on reading techniques.

Jess Castro, an art education major from Mount Olive, helps Julian Garcia with reading comprehension.

Danielle Trimbur, an ag education major from Oley, PA, listens as Mateo Zepeda gets excited over reading a new book.

“It sounds like this,” advises UMO Abigail Sliepen, an ag education major from Lincoln, CA, as she instructs Julieta Garcia.

UMO Reading Clinic Project Coordinator Kristie Ruiz watches as Brandon Hernandez practices his pronunciation with Alexis Ramirez, an elementary education major from Mount Olive.