REACH program names new director


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Having previously served the University of Iowa College of Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning as the coordinator of the elementary-education program and the elementary-methods practicum, UI Clinical Professor Pam Ries has now stepped into a new leadership role.

Ries was named the new director of REACH, a two-year certificate program housed in the education school that is designed to serve individuals facing intellectual and learning challenges.

“I feel very honored and privileged to have been given this opportunity,” she said. “I’ve respected the REACH program for years, and I’m so excited to be a part of it. I look forward to each and every day.”

Entering its sixth year, REACH — Realizing Educational and Career Hopes — works with up to 50 students at a time to teach them the necessary skills to become as independent as possible. These skills include working on career development, money management, keeping a clean apartment, making friends, and becoming involved on campus, among others.

Ries will replace Jo Hendrickson as director. Hendrickson had served as director of the REACH program since its inception in 2008, and she will assume a slightly different role as she shifts into the position of executive director.

Hendrickson said her experience as director of the program has been one that she will not soon forget.

“The students from across the country who have attended the UI REACH Program are the most incredible individuals I have ever met,” she wrote in an email. “I have watched with amazement as they have time and time again demonstrated their incredible fortitude, enthusiasm for becoming community participants, and determination to shape their own destinies.”

Noting that the program has achieved success in recent years, Ries said she does not foresee making major changes as director.

“My main goal is that we maintain a viable, sustainable program that continues to move forward,” she said. “My belief is that if you stay stagnant, you get left behind.”

Much of the recognition received by the REACH program has come in the form of accolades such as Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce’s Innovation Award and the UI Diversity Catalyst Award, among others. The program was also recognized as one of Best Colleges Online’s list of “20 Incredible Colleges for Special Needs Students,” according to a UI news release.

Nicholas Colangelo, the interim dean of the College of Education, noted the importance of the REACH program to the education school.

“REACH has been very much a success story in the College of Education,” he wrote in an email. “It has been demonstrated what can be done when there is a mix of hard work, vision, and passion.”

Ries said that as the new director of REACH, she looks forward to working with new students.

“I am looking forward to a new challenge, meeting new people … seeing growth in our students and watching them bloom,” she said.

Ries assumed the position as director on July 1.

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