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ENMU and the College of Education and Technology are most appreciative of the new possibilities presented by alumna Dr. Gay Su Pinnell (BA 66) and her generous contribution to enhance the ENMU Child Development Center (CDC) and the early childhood education program.

When asked what inspired her to fund the $300,000 grant, Dr. Pinnell explained, "A superb child development center is well worth investing in. It gives ENMU students a chance to interact with the children in a professional setting. The college students learn how to observe children closely as the little ones engage in active learning. And one of the critical benefits is the chance to observe excellent teaching before they go on to student teach."

Dr. Pinnell is Professor Emeritus in the School of Teaching and Learning at Ohio State University. She has extensive experience in classroom teaching and field-based research, and is well known in public education for developing and implementing comprehensive approaches to literacy education. She has received numerous awards including being a member of the Reading Hall of Fame. Together

Dr. Pinnell and her co-author, Irene Fountas, have authored numerous books, videos and websites that are now considered standards in the field of literacy instruction and staff development.

"It is a pleasure to give these funds, especially as my parents were both educators in Portales," stated Dr. Pinnell. Her father Dr. Leroy Pinnell was the dean of the ENMU College of Education and Professor Emeritus of Education. Her mother Elfrieda Pinnell taught first grade at L.L. Brown Elementary School in Portales. 

ENMU's CDC currently has two classrooms: one for children 3 to 4 years of age, and another for children 4 to 5 years old. The development of a new room specifically for 2 to 3 year olds is necessary to provide ENMU students opportunities to work with this younger age group as required for revised New Mexico licensure pathways. Dr. Pinnell's generous donation is making this transformation possible. Funding received will:

  • Serve the needs of young children and their families of both the campus and surrounding communities.

  • Expand the experiences of early childhood education (ECE) teacher candidates as well as majors in Health and Physical Education, Communication Disorders and Social Work.

  • Re-dedicate the work of the CDC to focus on the fundamentals of literacy.

Childhood literacy is a major focus for our nation's educational system. With this grant, the new CDC literacy center will house an expanded selection of literacy materials available for young children to interact with our college students and for parents to check out for home use.

Dr. Pinnell recalls her own professors, "All of my instructors were excellent, but two especially provided mentoring. Shirley Wahlman (BA 58) taught the 5-year-old class and directed the preschool and I did student teaching with Jackie Harmon. Both were and are superb educators."

"ENMU provides a real service to that larger community," acknowledges Dr. Pinnell, "And by that I mean the United States and perhaps beyond – by giving students a chance to have a high quality educational experience at an affordable price and by educating high-quality teachers."

ENMU and the College of Education and Technology are honored to accept the generous donation from alumna Dr. Gay Su Pinnell.

Article written by:
Dr. Darron Smith
Chair of Family and Consumer Sciences and Agriculture


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