Gift from Faculty Emerita Ann Boehm Supports School Psychology Scholarships
Published in Campaign for TC
Ann E. Boehm (Ph.D. ’66), TC Professor Emerita of Psychology and Education, has made a lifetime bequest to TC that could ultimately exceed $5 million. The gift establishes the Ann E. Boehm and Neville Kaplan School Psychology Fund, which will provide scholarships for doctoral students in school psychology who focus on the educational and psychological needs of children ages 3 through 8.
“My entire adult life has been spent at TC,” says Boehm, who retired in 1998 after 30 years on the faculty but still teaches a fall course called Observing and Assessing the Preschool Child. “I had excellent mentors, and I want to continue that tradition for the next generation of students.”
Boehm’s gift includes among other sources anticipated royalties from The Boehm Test of Basic Concepts, a widely used instrument that inspired much current work that aims to measure young children’s mastery of key relational concepts such as “top,” “row,” “left,” and “right,” which are central to primary school curricular materials and following teacher directions, along with their problem-solving strategies. The test grew out of the dissertation Boehm wrote under the guidance of faculty members Mary Alice White, Millie Almy, Miriam Goldberg, and Robert Thorndike, all of whom were giants in their respective areas of psychology.
The broader function of the test, which is published by Pearson and is now entering its fourth edition, “is to guide teaching and instruction – an entirely different meaning of testing than what is currently so negative in the field, which is to evaluate teachers and how effective they are in instruction or in getting all kids up to grade level,” Boehm says. “Of course, we all want to see kids working at grade level, but my test seeks to identify the learning needs of children early on so that they can be more effectively guided by instruction. I believe the field is coming back around to that kind of assessment, which is a core part of TC’s legacy.”
The newest version of the Boehm test will include interactive features that can be downloaded by parents, teachers, and specialists to guide instruction. In collaboration with another former TC faculty member, Kay Ferrell (now at the University of Northern Colorado), Cathy Smyth, and a team at the American Printing House for the Blind, Boehm has also created both raised-form and big-picture versions of the test for use with blind or visually impaired children ages 3-5 which will become available during 2014.
“It’s very exciting to have this opportunity late in my career, because there really is nothing else out there like this for children at this age level,” Boehm says. “When children are born blind or become blind very early in life, it is difficult for them to develop spatially oriented concepts. Developing test items is a lengthy process that has to be done in a model shop. And with low-vision students, you have to eliminate shadows and avoid certain colors, like red, which they may see as black. “I have learned a great deal through this process.”
Neville Kaplan, Boehm’s late husband, passed away in 2012. Born in South Africa, he was a radiologist with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and later with the Long Island Jewish-Queens Medical Center.