For over 15 years the Gevirtz School has been chronicling the ever-growing accomplishments of Tina McEnroe, M.A., L.H.D. (h.c.). She was our featured alumna (she earned that M.A. from the GGSE Department of Education) in our very first annual magazine in 2006, when we highlighted her years of award-winning teaching. We helped get her featured in UCSB’s alumni magazine for her visionary leadership to create the Pleasant Valley Schoolhouse, the authentically refurbished oldest (1869) wooden one-room schoolhouse in Santa Barbara County.
Of course, we have lauded her gift and leadership of the Tina Hansen & Paul V. McEnroe Reading and Language Arts Clinic, which for a decade has provided state-of-the-art research and teaching in the field of literacy. It was no surprise that Cal Poly—where she earned her teaching credential—bestowed her and her husband Paul with honorary doctorates in 2016.
Now, it’s equally little surprise that the UC Santa Barbara Foundation has named her to its Board of Trustees. Actually, at first it was a surprise to Tina herself. She recalls the day while driving that UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang’s phone number popped up on her screen and she had no idea why he was calling. “When he asked if I would be on the Board of Trustees, I was shocked,” she recalls. “That was never a goal of mine, and I’m very goal-oriented.” She asked the Chancellor if she could consider it and confer with her husband.
Once home and explaining the story to Paul, she remembers her husband instantly saying, “Are you nuts? Call him right back!” And a new trustee was born.
According to Chancellor Yang, McEnroe was named a trustee because she’d been doing the work of a trustee for at least the past decade, helping create the Reading and Language Arts Clinic that has grown from one student to serving well over 500 students in the past five years. “It’s an exciting journey,” she says of the appointment, adding, “I’m not quitting, I’m really revved up. I promised Henry I’d put the clinic on the national and international map.”
The goal of the Clinic, she says, is to make the world a better place by helping people learn to read. “I’ve worn all the hats in the Clinic, and my favorite has been as a teacher,” she points out, “working in the trenches with students and parents.” But now as Associate Director her major goal is fundraising and establishing an endowment, “Raising the funds needed not just to survive but thrive.”
McEnroe is also quick to point to the Gevirtz School’s support through the years, with the overall help of the Faculty Advisory Board, and stressing in particular how current Director, Associate Professor Diana Arya, “has been invaluable” in keeping the Clinic informed by the latest research. Indeed, one of the Clinic’s concerns of late has been exploring VR as a teaching tool. McEnroe has also been impressed by the skill and dedication of years of graduate students. She is equally proud that the Clinic not only teaches first through eight graders how to read, but it also teaches generations of future teachers how to provide literacy skills for their pupils.
Since more than 90 percent of Santa Barbara elementary students come from Spanish-speaking households that live below the poverty line, McEnroe is leading the fundraising charge so the Clinic can offer scholarships for students of lower-income families. As McEnroe said in a recent spread in the 2022 Santa Barbara Giving List, “My dream is eventually to expand the program for high school students and even adults. With a firm foundation of support for our younger students, our Clinic will undoubtedly attract additional support for older populations that have been equally impacted by the COVID-related pandemic.”
No doubt the Gevirtz School will once again be writing about just such successes for McEnroe and the Clinic in the coming years.