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What's Up Magazine

Elizabeth Devlin, 29, Progressive Educator

Jan 06, 2011 01:04AM ● By Anonymous

In the heart of the Eastern Shore, one woman is changing the lives of more than a hundred middle-school girls. At the end of next year, that number could rise to more than forty-six hundred. In the past two years alone, Elizabeth Devlin, resident of Oxford, has watched her PageTurners program, designed to supplement the reading and critical thinking skills of at-risk middle-school girls through reading-based discussions and activities, grow from a mere idea into ten full-fledged, active book clubs at six different middle schools throughout the Shore. Devlin, who grew up in Bethesda and earned her undergraduate degree from Davidson College, has always dedicated herself to serving the needs of others. While in college, she participated in a local tutoring program. When the time came for her students to read, “They would crawl under desks and tables,” she recalls. “It was just so eye-opening, because for me, reading as a kid had always been such fun.” Devlin went on to teach Language Arts for two years in inner-city Charlotte, through the Teach For America program, and then worked at a national nonprofit in inner-city Baltimore before starting PageTurners. What motivates her? “It’s really the kids, and the kids that I’ve known,” she says. “Even when I wasn’t getting paid, and even when I was working two jobs, [they are] definitely what kept me going.” Devlin’s goal is not just to improve reading and comprehension, but also to empower the girls, grades 6–8, “with a stronger sense of self, and a stronger sense of the future and what they can do with their lives.” Moving forward, Devlin hopes to elevate the program to the national level. “I think I’m in it for the long-haul,” she says.

- Emily Wilson