Dr. Arden Post
Arden Post is a professor of education, emerita, retiring from the Calvin College Education Department in May 2007. During her 21 years at Calvin, Arden taught educational psychology, undergraduate and graduate literacy courses, and introduction to exceptional children.
As a 1965 Calvin graduate, Arden majored in French and psychology and minored in Spanish, obtaining a secondary education degree. She then obtained a M.Ed., reading specialist degree, from Arcadia University in PA, a learning disabilities add-on masters certification from Georgia State University, and a doctorate in literacy and special education from the University of Cincinnati.
She currently spends her time between Holland, MI, and Bradenton, FL with her husband, Jack. Arden is a mentor with the Migrant Mentoring Program of the Diversity Alliance of Western Michigan. She became friends with a Mexican migrant family and sees their children weekly for tutoring and fun activities. She notes that one of their favorite activities is to go to Dutch Village, a Holland amusement park, where they enjoy the rides and experience Dutch culture. Arden works with them in reading and writing in English while they help her improve her Spanish. Again related to literacy, Arden serves the Holland Rescue Mission Riley Street Thrift Store as the manager of their book section. While wintering in Florida, she led a senior ladies’ Bible study. Both Jack and Arden see serving the elderly as one of their ministries. They have several elderly friends in both locations whom they serve with transportation, meals, and visits through Harderwyk Christian Reformed and Bradenton Christian Reformed Churches.
Arden and Jack visit their three children and grandchildren in Nashville, TN; Boston, MA; and Grand Rapids, MI. With some of the children Arden serves as literacy tutor. She just completed assisting a grandson in defining 128 history terms. Having dyslexia makes it difficult for him to coordinate the task of finding information and organizing what to write down or type. So Arden became the “scribe”. With others she assists with oral reading fluency, phonics, comprehension, writing essays and stories, and locating books of interest to read.
During her tenure at Calvin, Arden was involved in the Young Authors’ Festival, a program where local schools bring children to hear an author or illustrator and to share books they’ve written. She coordinated a Teachers as Readers group in which local teachers came together to share children’s books and teaching ideas. Arden also established ALEx, her nickname for the Alexander Literacy Experience. ALEx, she says, “is probably the most valuable thing I did in my 21 years at Calvin. I see it as more important than writing the book, Celebrating Children’s Choices: 25 Years of Children’s Favorite Books, for the International Reading Association, or compiling the articles I wrote for Christian Home and School parent magazine into God’s Pencils, published by the Calvin Alumni Association. While there is much emphasis on “professorial” publishing as well as talk about social justice in the college, I strived to have my classes use our knowledge of reading and writing to interact with an urban population. We interacted with an urban population in an instructional milieu that benefitted us and the children we served.”
ALEx was conceived in early 2000 as a collaborative effort between Calvin and an urban, public elementary school to bridge the “digital divide” of technology between urban and suburban children.” Post, a literacy specialist, was asked to parent the program. In the fall of that year she and her language arts students began going, every Wednesday to Alexander Elementary School. Calvin students were paired with third or fourth graders. Teaching a technology-based curriculum, Calvin students learned about literacy teaching and about teaching in an urban environment. According to Post, the Calvin students developed a love for the children, an appreciation for the Alexander teachers, and recognition of the struggles of families living in poverty.
As the program progressed, Arden began to write her own curricula using books that spoke to the needs and interests of urban children. She created a Friday Writing Lab, and most of her Calvin students volunteered to come to the school on Fridays as well. She also began to bring Alexander students to Calvin —to swim, to eat ice cream and to. She said, “I know the children from Alexander are more receptive to thinking about college; most want to come to Calvin!”
“Our goal was to have the children love reading and writing and to recognize the possibilities of education. They in turn have taught us how to teach, how to love unconditionally, and how to make literacy learning enticing to children.” The important thing, she says, is to recognize the impact literacy can have in people’s lives and to know that we, given the privilege of supportive families who encouraged our education, can impact children who may not have that privilege. Post also tried to bridge the urban/suburban gap by establishing a pen pal program with Moline Christian School with the help of a former Calvin student there.
It is evident that love for urban youth and love of literacy teaching remain with her in retirement as she devotes her time to family, church, and community.