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Honoring the Creator of the TC Reading and Math Buddies


Dawn Arno, founder of the TC Reading and Math Buddies

Dawn Arno, founder of the TC Reading and Math Buddies

At the College’s Student Outreach Showcase, Dawn Arno is credited for building two “signature programs”

At its fourth annual Student Outreach Showcase, the College honored Dawn Arno, founder of the TC Reading and Math Buddies, who is retiring at the end of this summer.

Addressing faculty, staff and students at the event, Nancy Streim, Associate Vice President for School and Community Partnerships, said:  “Dawn developed relationships with schools in Harlem, and created the signature program we know as the Teachers College Buddies. For eight years, she has been guiding TC students as they tackle the intersection of their theoretical learning about education, and the actuality of helping children who desperately need their support, attention and encouragement. Hundreds of children and Buddies have been enriched by the experience.”

The TC Reading and Math Buddies, were initially funded by a $1 million grant from Arthur Zankel, then Vice Chair of the College’s Board of Trustees.  The TC Buddies subsequently became the centerpiece of the Arthur Zankel Urban Fellowship program which supports up to 50 TC students each year to work with underserved children.  The Buddies spend two hours a day, five days a week, working one-on-one with children in Harlem schools.  They also meet to share best practices and blog regularly about their experiences.

“It’s not just about teaching them that three plus three equals six,” says Vanessa Dabel, a former Reading Buddy who earned her master’s degree from TC last spring in developmental psychology. “It’s really about building relationships so that you can get to know the student. Because you don’t know what they don’t know if you don’t know them.”

The Student Outreach Showcase, held by the College’s Office of School and Community Partnerships represented work from this year’s Zankel Fellows as well as other students who work during the school year in New York City schools and community based organizations.

“The work that we are showcasing is a testament to our commitment to the values that TC stands for – which we call Comprehensive Educational Opportunity,” said Streim. “CEO involves holistically addressing in-class and out-of classroom elements that children need to be successful in school, and eventually careers and life. It is not only great instruction, but also things like enrichment experiences, family support, early childhood education, and social, emotional and physical health.

“Many schools of education and many universities have outreach programs. What is unique about TC is that we have unparalleled depth and breadth in our knowledge, research and human resources across the areas of education, health and psychology. And we are unique in coordinating those resources to provide the holistic supports that constitute comprehensive educational opportunity.”

Streim said that Arno, a music and mathematics educator and former Deputy Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer for Rochester, New York and other school districts, “built the foundation on which the Office of School and Community Partnerships is based.”

"When I came to TC eight years ago, there were people who did not see service work to the community as being compatible with what the college was supposed to do,” said Arno, who received a doctorate in Education Administration from TC in 1984 and also holds an MBA from Columbia Business School. “But Arthur Zankel said, ‘How can we claim to be a great teaching institution if we don't do work that directly benefits children in need in our surrounding community?’ I am so grateful to Arthur for funding the creation of the Reading Buddies, and to Susan Fuhrman and Nancy Streim for building on and amplifying Arthur's vision."

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