Manhattanville Reid Castle In the Spring

$1.2 Million Gift to Manhattanville Continues Sandra Priest Rose's History of Giving to Education
Friday, 13 December 2013 14:35

The Rose Institute for Learning and Literacy

Purchase, NY Oct 30, 2013 -- A generous $1.2 million gift from Sandra Priest Rose has established the Rose Institute for Learning and Literacy at Manhattanville College’s School of Education.  It is the latest gift in a long history of giving by the literacy advocate, who is one of the founders and current chairman and trustee of the non-profit Reading Reform Foundation (RRF) of New York.

Reading Reform Foundation for three decades has taught 1,200 teachers in the Metropolitan New York area a phonics-based approach to education that uses all the senses -- seeing, saying, hearing and writing – to help children learn.  Today, RRF works in 38 classrooms in 14 schools in New York City and Westchester.   It has influenced the education of 30,000 K-2 students.

The donation to Manhattanville, Rose says, will allow RRF’s approach to learning to “initiate an intellectual journey for children and have a lasting impact on future generations, but it also gives training to teachers that is offered in few institutions of higher education.”  The donation will be used to hire a professor and director of the Institute, and, over three years, to conduct an in-school practicum for 15 teachers in the mid-Hudson region.   Courses for the Institute’s graduate and certificate program at Manhattanville will begin in the summer of 2014.

A report by the National Council on Teacher Quality reveals that only 18% of the schools of education studied offered a course in the teaching of reading that has this approach.

Rose is a graduate of Manhattanville, which she attended as an adult student and,   because of her “first rate experience there,” she felt strongly that Manhattanville was the most forward-looking academic home for the Institute.

Rose and her late husband, Frederick P. Rose, a distinguished member of one of the oldest real estate families in New York, are perhaps best known for establishing the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the Natural History Museum, the Samuel B. and David Rose Building at Lincoln Center and the Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library.  

“We are both honored and excited that Sandra Rose is entrusting Manhattanville with continuing the legacy of her lifelong commitment to literacy education through the establishment of the Rose Institute for Learning and Literacy,” said Jon Strauss, president of Manhattanville.

Endowing a Directorship of Education at the Met
Rose’s personal passion has always been education for children, and she has recently endowed a directorship of education at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she is an honorary trustee, to lend more importance to that area.   And, in the past year Reading Reform Foundation has become involved in training tutors of adults at the New York Public Library with classes held at select branches.

Her core mission, though, is to improve learning for children. “All children want to learn,” says Rose, who was a teacher in Community School District 9 in the South Bronx at the time she helped found Reading Reform Foundation.   “If challenged, they rise to it, especially if offered a rigorous education. Whether privileged or disadvantaged, children can benefit from a systematic, step-by-step method of learning, which is not offered in many schools today.” 

Rose has put her thoughts and three decades of experience in education into a book, Sunday Is for the Sun, Monday Is for the Moon, which was published last year and is co-authored by Glen Nelson.

Reading Reform Foundation’s phonics-based approach to learning is based on the work of Dr. Samuel T. Orton, who pioneered the concept of "multisensory" teaching – integrating kinesthetic (movement-based) and tactile (sensory-based) learning strategies with the teaching of visual and auditory concepts.

Edison School Project Success Triggers Gift to Manhattanville
In recent years, Reading Reform Foundation has channeled its efforts beyond its New York City roots and into the Westchester suburbs, where Manhattanville College is located and where Rose lives.   A few years ago, RRF and the College, which has a special program called Changing Suburbs Institute® that is devoted to improving educational opportunities in changing suburban school districts for diverse student populations, particularly for Hispanic students, began informal discussions.  Eventually this led to RRF and Manhattanville co-sponsoring a three-year pilot program at the Thomas A. Edison School in Port Chester where seven teachers were instructed in the RRF approach to teaching and 150 children in grades K-2 were taught.

According to a preliminary study by Manhattanville’s School of Education, the children in Reading Reform Foundation classrooms, contrasted with their peers, attained greater fluency when reading aloud, improved spelling, had greater facility in writing and improved speaking in complete sentences.  The success helped trigger Rose’s donation to the College.

What sets Reading Reform Foundation apart from other phonics programs, says Rose, is that once a school principal requests the program, teachers not only attend special courses in the RRF approach, but RRF mentors spend four hours a week for one year in the K-2 classrooms, personally coaching each teacher during preparation time and while he or she is actually teaching. 

For more information about Manhattanville College, please visit  For more information about RRF, please visit