We have lost stalwart campaigner Robert Sweet Jnr - Our thoughts go out to his wife, Joy, and the family

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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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We have lost stalwart campaigner Robert Sweet Jnr - Our thoughts go out to his wife, Joy, and the family

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:54 pm

I'm finding it really hard to use the right words to express thoughts and feelings about Bob Sweet and to articulate this huge loss of his presence on Earth.

I absolutely loved Bob and am so personally grateful for his friendship and enduring support. Many others will feel exactly this way too.

I am in awe of what Bob achieved over the years. He was utterly dedicated to campaigning for teachers to be informed and supported in evidence-informed reading instruction so that each and every child could be taught to read - well.

I knew Bob had been fighting ill-health for a number of years - and yet he never stopped supporting others in their endeavours to bring about evidence-informed reading instruction. It was because I wanted Bob to feel rightfully appreciated, for his decades of contribution and kindness, that I started a thread featuring some of the 'Giants' of the reading debate enabling me to highlight Bob's current position statement and provide links to his achievements over the years.

Bob was a founding committee member of the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction:

https://iferi.org/members/robert-w-sweet-jr/#more-42

He was the founder of the National Right to Read Foundation (NRRF):

http://www.nrrf.org/about-us/#mission

Please follow the links via the page below to read the conversation he shared with John Boulton for the 'Children of the Code' site - as relevant to this day as it was when conducted:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1172
Nancy Young
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Re: We have lost stalwart campaigner Robert Sweet Jnr - Our thoughts go out to his wife, Joy, and the family

Postby Nancy Young » Sat Jul 20, 2019 4:58 pm

I was very saddened to hear of Bob's passing. Not only did I have huge respect for his work, but in my personal communications with him (which I feel so privileged to have had) I was always struck by his ability to radiate such kindness whilst sharing his vast knowledge. He imprinted the world in such a positive way and touched the hearts of many. He will be greatly missed. My sincere condolences to his wife, Joy, and his family.

Nancy Young B.A., M.Ed.
Reading, Spelling, Writing Specialist
British Columbia, Canada
Christine
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Re: We have lost stalwart campaigner Robert Sweet Jnr - Our thoughts go out to his wife, Joy, and the family

Postby Christine » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:36 pm

I cannot express how sorry I am at this loss. Bob Sweet was not only a dear friend, but a pure soul, whose premiere purpose was to bring the happy news of phonics via direct, systematic, explicit instruction to the world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ji6QZQ74Yo


[Note from Debbie: Christine has written a personal, heartwarming tribute to Bob Sweet via her site:]

A Tribute To A Champion ~ Bob Sweet

POSTED JULY 21, 2019


https://christinecalabrese.com/a-tribut ... bob-sweet/

I considered Bob a soldier, a comfort and a warrior. A Commander General in the battle we hold here in the USA for reading and children; his absence will leave a gaping whole in our fight. I can only pray that another such warrior is raised up to stand on his shoulders because honestly, we desperately need men like Bob Sweet.

As I say good-bye to this humble servant, I know he will be sorely missed here in the USA. I, personally, will surely miss this pillar of righteousness and humility.

Until we meet again, in glory, I say, good-bye dear one.

My heart is truly broken by this loss.
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: We have lost stalwart campaigner Robert Sweet Jnr - Our thoughts go out to his wife, Joy, and the family

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Sat Jul 20, 2019 10:28 pm

If anyone has difficulty posting a condolence message direct on to the IFERI forum, please don't hesitate to provide me with the wording and I will copy and paste (debbie@phonicsinternational.com).
Yvonne Meyer
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Re: We have lost stalwart campaigner Robert Sweet Jnr - Our thoughts go out to his wife, Joy, and the family

Postby Yvonne Meyer » Sun Jul 21, 2019 12:32 am

From here in Australia, I found Bob’s National Right to Read website when I was desperate for help for my son and it set me on the right path to fixing the problem. He helped me enormously without, at the time, knowing me or anything about me.

I will always be grateful.

Yvonne
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: We have lost stalwart campaigner Robert Sweet Jnr - Our thoughts go out to his wife, Joy, and the family

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Mon Jul 22, 2019 1:20 pm

Sir Jim Rose has asked me to add this personal message as a tribute to the work of Bob and to the measure of his friendship:


Bob Sweet's huge contribution to the teaching of reading and much else to the benefit of children and their teachers was second to none. He will be sorely missed not only as a highly professional colleague but also as a true friend.


Sir Jim Rose
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: We have lost stalwart campaigner Robert Sweet Jnr - Our thoughts go out to his wife, Joy, and the family

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Wed Jul 24, 2019 3:39 pm

Longtime pioneering partner, Reid Lyon, writes about his work and friendship shared with Bob:

Bob’s passing will leave an enormous void in many lives and I count myself among them. There is a massive hole in my heart as I think of the gifts that he brought to this world. His love for God was such an inspiration and his love for his wife Joy, his children, and his grandchildren was boundless. I have never met a man of such integrity, courage, graciousness, and an open heart who believed in serving others way before he thought of himself. Bob was the definition of selflessness and his absolute dedication to teaching all children to read changed kid’s lives in extraordinary ways. He saved the future of millions of children, opening up new worlds for them and giving them the ability to learn independently.

I worked very closely with Bob from 1998 to 2015 when he was serving in a legislative role, on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce. I was working at the National Institutes of Health. He asked me early on in 1998 to discuss with him the NIH research data we had obtained related to three questions: (1) How do children learn to read? (2) Why do some children have difficulty learning to read?, and (3) How can we help children who struggle with reading?. Actually, Bob had already thought of these questions for many years. I came to learn that he was a true visionary. At his core, Bob was an educator and a scientist. I was blown away when he and I would discuss the NIH data on the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of reading disorders. He would ask specific questions about the neurochemistry and physiology of synaptic functions among neural cells activated in reading. I then learned that he not only taught high school chemistry but his knowledge of biology and physics was amazing. I learned that few people knew that Bob had contributed to kids in our country in so many ways. He was appointed to the Reagan administration and instrumental in the birth of the National Institute of Education. Later he served in the George H.W. Bush Administration and among other roles, was a leader at the Children’s Bureau at the Department of Health and Human Services. And, against prevailing opinions that reading development did not require the teaching of phonics, he established the National Right To Read Foundation in 1993 to ensure that teachers, parents, legislators, and scientists could be kept abreast of the burgeoning research on the importance of Phonics in learning to read.

I first met Bob in 1998 after he was recommended to Congressman William Goodling, then Chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, that he be briefed on the NIH research on reading, I was called to do that job. From that meeting came the idea for the Reading Excellence Act that solidified the concept of Scientifically Based Reading Research in Federal education policy and legislation. That major achievement was Bob’s. Likewise, when Bob and I realized that the Reading Excellence Act was hamstrung by its lack of accountability, the idea for the Reading First and Early Reading First legislation was born. Bob immediately began drafting the legislative language for the Reading First Act making history in two major ways. First, he required that the language in the law be based on the scientific reading research findings from the NIH. Second, that law required strict accountability from those receiving Reading First funds. For the first time in Federal education legislation, Reading First grantees had to demonstrate, through data, that the law was being implemented correctly. This took amazing courage on Bob’s part. As usual, he was fighting the status quo to ensure that children were provided the most effective reading instruction, a concept completely foreign to conventional wisdom within the education community. I recall with great fondness our numerous daily discussions as he would write, send the language up to me at the NIH with his familiar note, telling me to make sure everything was based on objective scientific data. This practice continued through the drafting of the legislation establishing the Institute of Education Sciences and the National Institute for Literacy. We came to call each other “Partner” , which we continued to do until his passing. But, let’s be clear, Bob was the leader and I simply did what he asked me to do. I was constantly humbled in his presence and immensely grateful that God had blessed me to be in Bob’s presence. Through our work together we forged a very special brotherhood that brought love into the word “Partner”.

It crushes me to say goodbye to the most giving, honest, and a valiant man I have ever known.

Rest in peace dear partner.

Reid Lyon
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: We have lost stalwart campaigner Robert Sweet Jnr - Our thoughts go out to his wife, Joy, and the family

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Wed Jul 24, 2019 3:42 pm

The world is a better place because Bob shared his knowledge and heart with others. He was an inspiration to many that knew him, and also the catalyst for improved literacy and lives for many that will never know that one man's humble but knowledgeable and dedicated efforts changed their lives. As I pray for his peace and comfort, I also pray in thanksgiving, that Bob has been such a good man, an inspiration and a friend.

Nancy Duggan

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