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Martin earns award for contributions to childhood literacy

By Annie Lambert

Dr. MartinA passion for music and children's education earned Dr. Michelle Martin a lifetime achievement award from the Clemmie Gill School of Science and Conservation (SCICON) in Tulare County, Calif. Martin is one of 12 recipients of the prestigious recognition since the school was founded in 1957. She was recognized in large part for writing "Big Blue Marble," a song that is still sung by students in the school and considered the "theme song" of the program.

During her time at the school, Martin used music and games to teach sixth grade students geology, astronomy, the life cycle and aquatic ecology. While at SCICON, Martin honed her musical skills and discovered a way to reach children not touched by other teaching methods.

Now the Augusta Baker Chair in Childhood Literacy in the School of Library and Information Science, Martin has developed programs, such as Camp Read-a-Rama, that use singing, arts and crafts, reading and games to help children in the community combat summer learning loss.

"Music helps to make ideas more memorable, and encourages us to move while we're learning," Martin said. "That's an important component of hands-on education: learning in multi-sensory and even in multi-disciplinary ways. I've found that music helps to bring all of the disciplines together in fun ways."

As she continues in her role in the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies, Martin hopes to get USC students more involved in community outreach and volunteer work.

"I would like to see a substantial percentage of USC students helping to solve our crisis of illiteracy. In a state with such high illiteracy rates, it should be everybody's business to help solve the problem."

 

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