by Rima Thompson
Continuing the tradition of excellence in teaching, the University of La Verne reading program has acquired a new assistant professor, Marga Madhuri.
Madhuri came to ULV on the recommendation of Lisa Porter, assistant professor of education. Porter informed Madhuri of the vacancy in the education department.
“I was hired because (the University) needed more teachers in the reading credential program,” Madhuri said. “Right now I am teaching children’s lit.”
Madhuri said she likes the University’s focus on students, the small class sizes and the people.
Janice Pilgreen, reading program chairwoman, said that Madhuri “is a breath of fresh air. She is full of energy and enthusiasm. She has a wonderfully solid background. She will contribute a lot to our reading program.”
Madhuri hails from outside of Detroit.
A junior high school teacher for 13 years, Madhuri’s higher education started in pre-med before she decided to go into teaching. Luckily for future students that would benefit from her service, Madhuri discovered her passion for teaching toward the end of college.
Madhuri chose the University of Michigan to complete her undergraduate studies in literature. Throughout this time, Madhuri worked as a camp counselor and volunteered at a teenage crisis center.
After obtaining her bachelor’s degree and starting her teaching, Madhuri discovered students with reading problems. As a result of her discovery, she enrolled at Cal State Los Angeles to pursue her master’s in reading, hoping to help the massive reading problem among the youth.
Upon completion of her master’s, Madhuri was approached to co-teach with a friend in Glendale, Calif. She decided to acquire her doctorate to further her career opportunities.
“A lot of that degree (master’s) was for early reading,” Madhuri said.
Currently attending Claremont Graduate University, Madhuri expects to finish her course work this coming spring and her dissertation in spring of 2004. She is considering doing her dissertation on scripted reading programs, a program that involves a method of teaching a class out of the instruction book.
Before starting school for her master’s, Madhuri took a few years off because she believed that everyone should “get out, live your life and see what is interesting. When you go back (to school) you’ll have a better idea of what you want to do.”
Madhuri has no regrets about becoming a teacher; she said it has brought great personal growth. Her hope is that her students will gain a love of literature and an enthusiasm to teach reading.
“To me it’s so fundamental because (my students) are going to get into the schools that have scripted programs,” Madhuri said. “The programs don’t do a lot with free reading, reading aloud or picture books, and I want them to be so excited about (teaching and reading) that they find a way to sneak it in.”
Madhuri said she likes hearing the experiences of the kids in her classes, especially those who are immigrants.
“People are interesting to me, and their stories are interesting to me,” Madhuri said.
Sharing her own childhood experiences, she tells about living with both her parents until the sixth grade.
Her dad was a medical doctor while her mom tried her hand at real estate and as a travel agent. Madhuri’s parents divorced while she was in the sixth grade, and she found herself in a joint custody living arrangement.
Madhuri, the middle child of three sisters, is not married. She says that while she loves children and enjoys teaching them, she does not want to have any of her own.
“I figure if you can’t raise plants and dogs, you shouldn’t have kids,” Madhuri said.
Madhuri’s other interests include reading, hiking every morning, health and nutrition, meditation and any type of movement exercise.
She is a vegetarian and said she has not watched television for 20 years.
Twenty years from now, Madhuri still sees herself teaching and hopes that it is still at ULV.
“I’m really a teacher. I’m good at it. I think people respond to me,” Madhuri said.
She is currently working on a pamphlet containing tips for professors on how to help their students better themselves in writing that she is putting together with Andrés Zervigón, assistant professor of art history.
“I realize that not everyone here knows how to teach. There are professors here that know their field, but have never really taught, and don’t know how to teach writing,” Madhuri said.
“Find what you like to do,”she said. “You have to (look) until you find the thing that you love.”