We thought you’d all like to learn about a supporter who has been with us from the start – not only as a donor, but initially as a teacher at one of our partner schools. Claire Strickland, an English major at NYU, profiles our long-time friend Pat Levenson:
The gift of inspired readers comes from experiencing the difference between simply getting through books, and allowing books to get through to the reader. Behind the Book donor Pat Levenson has seen the power of this gift for herself.
For more than 30 years, Levenson worked in a “high-poverty, funding-strangled” NYC public school where she witnessed the daily hardships wrought by under-resourced reading programs. Struggling with writing and reading comprehension, students would often grow discouraged by books and set them down before getting halfway through.
When Behind the Book launched a partnership with her school, Levenson was overjoyed by the transformation under Behind the Book’s “vision, creativity, and resources. The partnership with authors and illustrators was unexpectedly and wonderfully inspiring to the entire staff and empowering to all the students.”
“Reading is vital to our ability as human beings to understand other places and people,” Levenson said. “It gives us insight into our own nature as we silence all the outside noise and let another’s language become our own.”
Now retired, Levenson continues to nurture her passions for social reform and education as an active member of her local Democratic club and a part-time course instructor at an adult education program. In her free time, she volunteers in her residential development’s tenant organization. She loves to travel whenever possible.
If Levenson were to write a book about herself, she jokes that with her packed agenda, she would title it, “So, Do You Think She’ll Ever Learn the Meaning of the Word ‘No’?” Despite having a full schedule, Levenson enjoys keeping herself busy and finds it rewarding to further causes for which she feels strongly.
Her favorite book is Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities,” which a “brilliant JHS teacher” guided her through one semester. She discovered how to “reflect on the setting and development as sign-posts of relationships and plot, and not be seduced or misdirected by the words characters are speaking. And it has one of the greatest opening lines ever!”