• Epryl: RAMPing up academic success through community


    Elementary teacher Epryl White King founded RAMP to promote community support of children’s academic aspirations. When she came to IUP, she found a whole community here for her own educational dreams. Now she’s a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Instruction.

    “IUP was the beginning of the rest of my life.”

    An elementary teacher in the Gateway School District, King received a Jefferson Award, a program instituted by the American Institute for Public Service, in recognition of her work with RAMP (Raising Achievement in Monroeville and Pitcairn). As RAMP’s founder, King spends thirty hours a month outside her teaching job, coordinating volunteer tutors and creating incentives for kids to improve their grades.

    “Being a teacher gives you a direct line at making a difference in those that make up the present and the future,” she says. “RAMP, as a community collaborative effort by nature, is rewarding. I get to help people see how to make life better in the community where we live. I also get to help kids see that they have ownership in the community, and the community values them.”

    The program has been successful enough that it is being duplicated in other parts of Pennsylvania.

    King herself credits many people at IUP, particularly those in the College of Education and Communications and the Professional Studies in Education Department, with her own passion for teaching and helping others succeed.

    “There were so many faculty members who were interested in our success that I feel made a difference in our lives and the direction my life took,” she said, describing one experience in particular, regarding Professor Roger Briscoe in the Department of Educational and School Psychology. “I was not a good test taker. I showed up at his office one day and said, ‘Please make me understand [how to take tests better].’ He did not give up on me, and I was able to succeed in his class.”

    King also cited help from staff members in the Financial Aid office, who were available to assist her.

    “You can’t make it through college if you can’t pay for it. [The counselor] showed me how and held my hand every step of the way,” she said.

    “IUP, without a doubt, was the beginning of the rest of my life,” King said. “I had all the help I needed. Since graduating, I have helped four others find their way into the college setting, simply by bringing them to IUP and letting them see what IUP had to offer. Three of them went on to attend.”

    King is planning to begin working on her Doctor of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction at IUP in the near future.

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