Daniel Behan has been teaching history at the middle school level for nearly twenty years, and at the college level for about ten.
Even when he isn't in the classroom at Elijah Parish Lovejoy Middle School in Rochester, New York, where he works full time, Daniel Behan is apt to be teaching somewhere. He teaches history at a local community college two nights a week during the summer. But more important, he says, he volunteers many hours of his time every year with Turn the Page, a childhood literacy program.
Childhood literacy is an important issue, says Daniel Behan. "Introducing book in the home is the single most important factor in influencing a child's early educational success. I always urge parents to expose their kids to book: to the classics, like Goodnight Moon, even though it doesn't have any text. And to Dr. Seuss. And so much more. It can make all the difference."
It can make all the difference, he says, because studies show that two-thirds of students who are unable to read proficiently by the fourth grade, end up either in jail or on welfare. "That is a bedrock fact, and if that isn't enough to motivate parents into getting their kids plenty of books, then I don't know what could be."
Daniel Behan knows that even with a lot of books around, some kids are going to be slower at picking up reading than are others. And that is where Turn the Page comes in. "We identify those kids who are struggling, and give them the help that they need," he says. "Everyone has a different learning style, and it frightens me to think how many of these kids who don't read as quickly as others end up feeling stigmatized, and thinking they aren't as smart as others. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I try to emphasize that. And to get them to read. And to turn the page."