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Evelyn Johnson Receives Fulbright Award for Program in Qatar

By: Brady W Moore   Published 3:19 pm / January 5, 2016

Evelyn Johnson, professor of special education and executive director of the Lee Pesky Learning Center, has been awarded a Fulbright grant to implement a program called ‘Every Child Ready to Learn’ (ECRL) in Doha, Qatar, this spring. The program was developed at the Lee Pesky Learning Center in Boise.

With Johnson’s assistance and funds provided by the Fulbright grant, experts at Qatar University in Doha will lay the foundation for translating the program to Arabic. Johnson will also teach in Qatar University’s special education and teacher preparation programs.Evelyn Johnson holds a copy of the Lee Pesky Learning Center's book, Every Child Ready to Learn.

“The goal is to better understand how literacy in Arabic develops and how it is best taught to children at risk for poor literacy outcomes,” said Johnson. “With the increase in Arabic speaking people coming to Idaho, it will be so important to have education programs that meet the needs of families and children.”

According to Johnson, estimates of reading disability in Qatar are high, ranging from 18-30 percent, with a significantly higher percentage of women experiencing reading disabilities. “If we can begin literacy intervention early, we can address some of these issues,” Johnson said.

The ECRL program is already in use by English- and Spanish-speaking students in Idaho; Arabic will be the third language.

“Expanding ECRL to Spanish and now to Arabic means we are being proactive and responsive to Idaho’s changing demographics,” Johnson said. “We hope to serve thousands of kids who need support in learning how to read.”  

ECRL is implemented across Idaho mostly through grant and private foundation funding. According to Johnson, the Lee Pesky Learning Center is hoping to bring that program to scale through the recent Pay for Success legislation.

“This Fulbright Award underscores the importance of Dr. Johnson’s work in our Special Education Collaborative with the Lee Pesky Learning Center, bringing relevant research to fruition in practice” said Rich Osguthorpe, dean of the College of Education. “Her outstanding accomplishments continue to fulfill the College of Education’s vision for excellence in research and teaching that improve learning for every child.”

To learn more about the Special Education Collaborative, visit the Department of Early and Special Education website.

To learn more about the Lee Pesky Learning Center, visit their website.

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has named Boise State among the top U.S. universities in producing student and faculty Fulbright Scholars. Next month, Jennifer Forbey, associate professor of biological sciences, will travel to Sweden and Norway on a Fulbright Scholar award to study the co-evolutionary relationship between plants and herbivores in an effort to speed the discovery of new and more effective drugs to treat diseases, particularly those that have developed multidrug resistance. Learn more here.

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 360,000 participants with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. More than 1,100 U.S. college and university faculty and administrators, professionals, artists, journalists, scientists, lawyers and independent scholars are awarded Fulbright grants to teach and/or conduct research annually. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program operates in more than 125 countries throughout the world.