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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Annual French award supports research projects

New Mexico State University professor Mary Beth Calhoon and Mary Rafferty, a teacher at New Futures School in Albuquerque, have been awarded the 22nd Annual French Award for the Improvement of Secondary Teaching to conduct two separate research projects.


rd, $4,000 to each recipient, is the most prestigious external award given by New Mexico State University's College of Education.

Calhoon will use her award to examine best practices in promoting linguistic skill and reading comprehension in middle-school students with reading disabilities. She said the need for middle-school-level remedial reading curriculum is greater than ever before.

Rafferty plans to introduce Hispanic female literature to students at New Futures School, an accredited alternative school that serves pregnant and parenting teens in middle and high school. In her award application Rafferty said that "through reading, speaking and writing about their culture, students will develop a clearer perception of themselves as young women and Latinas."

Calhoon and Rafferty were honored May 8 at a ceremony combined with the Sixth Annual Multicultural Research Symposium. Doctoral students in New Mexico State's counseling psychology program presented their research on issues impacting the mental health of the border region's population.

The French Award, founded in 1981 by Ralph and Josiah French of Las Cruces to honor the memory of their aunts, Fannie and Floy French, is given annually to encourage research and application of creative ideas for the improvement of secondary teaching. The French sisters devoted their lives to education.

Floy French, born in 1878, worked in library management in New Mexico and later as head librarian at Carnegie Library in Indiana. Fannie French, born in 1883, graduated from New Mexico State University in 1902 when it was the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. She organized the first Las Cruces High School and was its first principal. She later became an education teacher at Morton College in Illinois. Both women returned to Las Cruces after they retired.

Julie M. Hughes
May 13, 2002