“The greatest accomplishment that I can think of would be to truly make a difference in children’s lives,” says Stan Harward, ’75 BYU alumnus and teacher in the McKay School. He is doing just that as he works to prepare high quality teachers who will help children go further on the path to success.
Harward’s current efforts to this end are being invested in the Systematic and Engaging Early Literacy (SEEL) project. The purpose of the project is to help preschool and kindergarten students better learn the basics of how to read. “We try to use playful materials and find ways to teach the children to take advantage of their imagination and curiosity,” Harward explains. “We try to improve their skills with rhyming, alliteration, sound blending, letter names, letter-sound association, decoding, vocabulary development, and story comprehension.” This work is done with paraprofessionals in the classrooms of practicing teachers in Alpine School District preschools as well as kindergartens in Provo schools.
Harward has enjoyed working on the SEEL project for the past year and is elated with the improvements of children who had previously struggled with their literacy skills. His passion for helping struggling early literacy learners has aided numerous at-risk and ESL students. Harward feels his success has come as the result of considering the individual circumstances of the children he seeks to help.
Much of the initial work and research on the SEEL project has been done by associate dean Dr. Barbara Culatta, the principal investigator; Harward has also collaborated with Kendra Hall and Gary Bingham, both of whom are in the Department of Teacher Education.
Harward’s accomplishments, however, go far beyond his teaching and research work here at Brigham Young University. Over the past ten years, he taught at both Weber State and Utah Valley State College. He has also been the principal of two elementary schools, Cherry Hill Elementary in Orem and Central Elementary in Pleasant Grove, as well as the Director of Literacy in the Alpine School District.
These experiences have taught Harward what matters most in education: “To really make a difference as a teacher, one must have a sincere desire to serve and take an interest in the lives of his or her students,” he explains. “Good teachers seek to use the knowledge they have gained to help others move ahead and become better.”
Harward plans to pass on the knowledge he has gained to students at UVSC next year, as he has recently accepted a position there as an assistant professor. His work in that capacity will allow him to continue to benefit the lives of students and the children they teach.