Penn State Intercom......April 11, 2002

Presidential visit a first for
Penn State Delaware County

Check the Web
Ready to Learn Service

Add another name to the list of presidents who have visited Penn State.

Ten years after his father made a campaign stop on the University Park campus, President George W. Bush came to Penn State Delaware County on April 2 to emphasize the importance of early childhood education.

President Graham B. Spanier and Edward S.J. Tomezsko, campus executive officer at Penn State Delaware County, greeted Bush upon his arrival and witnessed a roundtable discussion on issues facing urban early and middle childhood education.

"I want to thank Dr. Spanier for his hospitality, and thank him for being president of Penn State," said Bush. "I also want to thank Ed Tomezsko for his hospitality and for managing such a beautiful campus."

A feeling of excitement enveloped the campus in advance of the visit -- a hoopla that typically accompanies a visit from the leader of the free world.

"For President Bush to pick Penn State Delaware County for a stop ... I can't even describe how that makes me feel. It makes me feel really good about the University. It's such an honor that he's coming here, that he chose our campus -- it really makes me want to tell the world that I go to Penn State Delaware County," said Gina Ermilio, a freshman business major at the campus.

Ermilio staked a strategic position in the lobby of the campus administration building at 7 a.m. the day before Bush's visit, determined to secure one of the sparse tickets to witness the first visit by a U.S. president to this suburban Philadelphia arm of Penn State.

While Ermilio's persistence paid off in a ticket to the event, two other students got even better seats. Terri Swan and Jennifer Tatarelli, seniors in the University's Urban Early and Middle Childhood Education program, were invited to join the president at the roundtable discussion. Other participants included U.S. Secretary of Education Roderick Paige, regional leaders in early childhood education and selected faculty from the University's education programs.

Asked by Bush why they decided to become teachers, Tatarelli noted that she "had a lot of wonderful teachers" and was "attracted to Penn State Delaware County's urban education program because I'm from an urban setting -- Chester -- and want to return to that setting to teach."

Swan said that Bush was "very down to earth. He made us feel very comfortable."

Tomezsko was equally impressed with Bush.

"He was just sensational," said Tomezsko. "He just swept into the room and was in control. He's the type of person with whom you just want to hang-out."

During his speech before a crowd of about 700, Bush outlined a bipartisan message for reforming and bolstering early childhood education.

"We must give our children the basics of knowledge and character. As we continue our fight for freedom, we cannot leave a child behind," said the president, often referring to need for balance between the nation's ongoing commitment to fighting terrorism with vital domestic priorities such as education.

The president detailed proposals for sweeping enhancements to Head Start to improve the quality of experiences for young children. He also called for increased support by states to ensure that pre-school programs are most closely coordinated with state kindergarten to 12th-grade education goals.

Finally, the president charged parents to fulfill the most important role of shaping their children's aptitude to learn in their formative years. To support this charge, he proposed improving the information available to parents and caregivers about the best practices in early childhood development, including a
$45 million research effort to identify effective early literacy programs and practices.

"Where America's children are concerned, there are no Republicans and Democrats. We're all moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas -- all eager to help our youngest citizens succeed," said Bush.

First family celebrates
Ready to Learn service

President George W. Bush and Laura Bush held an event in the East Room of the White House on April 3 to celebrate early childhood education and featuring the PBS Ready To Learn service. This early childhood project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, is offered by Penn State Public Broadcasting station WPSX-TV and nearly 140 other PBS stations in the United States. PBS Ready To Learn helps prepare children for school success by combining educational children's television with online learning and innovative training for parents, teachers and caregivers. Early childhood education and reading achievement are among the Bush Administration's top educational priorities, and were the topics of the speech Bush delivered at Penn State Delaware County on April 2.

Laura Bush is honorary chairperson of the PBS Designated Reader Campaign, which will encourage parents to read to children every day.

The PBS Ready To Learn service supports the production of educational children's programming aired on WPSX-TV.

WPSX-TV also receives federal seed money for training and support materials that show parents, caregivers and teachers how to help children get ready to read, and succeed, in school.

For more information on Ready To Learn activities and resources, contact WPSX-TV, 102 Wagner Building, University Park, PA 16802; phone (814) 865-3333.

Check the Web

For more stories and photos from President Bush's visit to Penn State Delaware County, check the Web at Among the stories by Tysen Kendig included on the site are:

* President Bush outlines new commitment of support for early childhood education at Penn State Delaware County;

* Penn State Delaware County students abuzz as word of visit by President Bush spreads;

* They said it: Quotes from students in advance of the speech;

* Visits to Penn State by U.S. presidents;

* History of Penn State Delaware County; and

* Penn State quick facts.