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WMU alumna honored at Michigan's Capitol for March is Reading Month

Award-winning author, Kindergarten teacher and WMU alumni Tracy Foster (B.A.’96, Education) is making great strides for children’s literacy, with no signs of slowing down! She and co-author, Shannon Cooper-Toma have created an imaginative book series featuring Benson, a traveling turtle. They were recently invited by Lori Stone, Michigan State Representative, to the State Capitol on Tuesday, March 2 to be honored as authors/educators for their three children's books in the Benson's Adventures series. The visit included the presentation of a tribute for their contributions to children’s literature. You can view the story of the trip by visiting the ABC 12 Flint, Mich. website (WJRT) here

Tracy has been an Early Childhood Educator and Literacy Specialist for twenty-three years. She received the “2016 Educator of the Year” title for Corunna Public Schools and received the “Innovative Educator” award from Western Michigan University in 2017. Tracy’s co-author, Shannon, has served in many leadership roles in the educational realm, including building principal, early childhood educator, literacy specialist, and special education teacher for over twenty years.

The motto of these two mid-Michigan educators is to Dream Big - and that is exactly what they have done with the Benson brand. Using the ‘Dream Big’ philosophy while utilizing their teaching salaries, community sponsorships, and corporate sponsorships, the educators funded these unique, educational travel experiences for students throughout the nation.

Benson inspires students and families to share their adventures as well as encourages children to become the authors of their own adventures.

Educators all over the nation use these books in their classrooms. Through Benson’s Literacy Foundation, the nonprofit created by the authors, over five thousand books have been donated to students in classrooms over the last four years. Donating affords children and parents the opportunity to see the beauty of our nation, even if they aren’t able to travel. These books depict the endless opportunities our nation has to offer- encouraging all children to ‘Dream Big’. Through the foundation hundreds of students logged thousands of miles throughout their national travels, learning first-hand what the world has to offer. 

Benson’s Adventures is a brand that empowers families to be engaged in their child’s education by providing parents with knowledge about free resources in the community, by providing a parent’s guide, and educating parents on the importance of providing their children with unique learning experiences. No matter where students live, they should have access to the same high-quality educational opportunities as any other student in our nation.

The educators are currently providing educational consulting, keynote speaking, Family Literacy Night presentations, and author visits to schools, universities, libraries, bookstores, summer camps, and community programs around the nation. To learn more about each book, please visit www.BensonsAdventures.com.