Jean Rattigan-Rohr: Leave no child behind

The associate professor of education received the 2013 Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility for her work to improve the literacy skills of children struggling with reading.

Jean Rattigan-Rohr makes it her mission to prepare teacher candidates so they leave no child behind.

Rattigan-Rohr, a professor of education, demonstrates that desire through her interactions in the classroom and in the “It Takes a Village” project, a tutoring program she founded in 2008 that assists struggling young readers in the local community through the involvement of their parents and Elon.

“Dr. Rohr engages her teacher candidates [Elon students] in doing this project as a way of providing them with authentic experiences in teaching struggling readers,” a colleague says. “They get the opportunity to put theory, philosophies and research to the test through real-life contexts.”

Her students consider Rattigan-Rohr a go-getter, a high achiever and someone to be admired and respected.

“Dr. Rohr is a dynamic professor whose passion originates in every fiber of her being,” a former student says. “Her zealous stance on children and education inspires me to foster rich student and parent interactions. Dr. Rohr’s creation and implementation of the Village project not only embodies the essence of Elon and its mission to foster respect for human differences, but furthers this idea by making the statement that we, as a community, must work together to elevate others around us.”

While the Village project engages struggling young readers and their families, Rattigan-Rohr doesn’t hesitate to help others trying to build their literacy skills.

“She gives selflessly her time and talent in serving the community,” a colleague says. “This includes the janitor in Mooney building who Jean teaches reading at least once a week during her lunch hour.”

Rattigan-Rohr is an advocate for social responsibility and participatory citizenship. She provides future teachers with a foundation for social and civic involvement. She leaves a lasting impression on the students and volunteers who work with her.

“Each week, I see Elon students eagerly preparing to be teachers by modeling Jean’s enthusiasm, passion and drive,” says a volunteer with the Village project. “I am inspired as I observe Jean in action. With joy and love she reaches out to all participating elementary students and their parents. I may arrive at the tutoring session tired after a long day, but I leave full of energy and hope as a result of interacting with Jean. Jean’s influence encourages us to do more, work harder and connect meaningfully with struggling readers.”

The reach of the Village project is far. In addition to helping struggling readers in the Alamance County area, the program is currently replicated at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Concordia University in Portland, Ore.

“Dr. Rohr’s initiative has offered real and evolving opportunities to improve the society we live in,” a colleague says. “The project continues to evolve to include adult education among and for the parents, counseling services for immigrant families, students appreciation of the arts and sciences, and a desire among middle grade students that to excel as mediocre is no longer the only option or desired outcome.”

Rattigan-Rohr joined faculty in Elon’s School of Education in 2007. She has received several grants, including two awards totaling more than $900,000 to fund her research and teaching and to expand the project.

Rattigan-Rohr grew up in Kingston, Jamaica. She began her career as a broadcast journalist for Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation before moving to New York City as part of a desktop publishing team for Blair Television. When her family moved to North Carolina, she completed a bachelor’s degree in speech language pathology and audiology, a master’s degree in special education and a doctorate in curriculum and teaching from UNC-Greensboro.

President Leo M. Lambert recently appointed Rattigan-Rohr to a two-year term as Faculty Administrative Fellow and Assistant to the President. She will begin her duties June 1.

Rattigan-Rohr is the 11th recipient of the Periclean Award for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility, which is given each year to a member of Elon’s faculty or staff whose community service exemplifies the ideals of Project Pericles.