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    New Members of ILA's Board of Directors Begin Terms

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Jul 03, 2018

    The International Literacy Association’s (ILA) Board of Directors has four new faces. Kathy N. Headley, professor of literacy and senior associate dean at Clemson University, started her yearlong tenure as vice president on July 1, and the Board welcomed three newly elected members-at-large: Juli-Ann Benjamin, Wendy Carss, and Kenneth Kunz.

    headley-highresHeadley brings with her an expertise in adolescent literacy and writing with a specialization in comprehension and vocabulary. She has chaired and participated on numerous committees for ILA, the South Carolina State Council of the International Reading Association and state departments of education, including ILA’s Adolescent Literacy Committee. This isn’t her first time serving on the Board; Headley’s first stint as a member-at-large ran from 2010-2013. In this new role, she plans to use her experience to position the organization as the leader in global literacy.

    “Our roles as educators, particularly as literacy educators, are critical for addressing current challenges,” said Headley. “Our voices must add to the conversation across our communities and schools for a better future today.”

    Carss_130x150New Board member Carss, who hails from New Zealand, hopes her global perspective will assist in this goal.

    Carss taught for 18 years in New Zealand primary schools, mostly in underserved areas, before she joined the University of Waikato as lecturer in literacy education. Her research interests include the beliefs and practices of first-year literacy teachers, the use of digital technologies to support literacy learning and the use of teacher-created informational texts to support cultural and linguistic diversity. In addition to her four-year term (2008–2012) as president of the New Zealand Reading Association (now the New Zealand Literacy Association), she’s involved in several international committees and boards, including the International Development in Oceania Committee, and she has presented at conferences and cofacilitated workshops around the world. During her term, she hopes to help ILA continue to grow its global presence.

    “Utilizing my experiences in leading a strong international affiliate and an active ILA regional committee, I believe I can assist in promoting increased collaboration and open communication within the international community,” she said.

    Benjamin_130x150Benjamin, a veteran of the New York City Department of Education and an instructional coach and leadership mentor in Newark, NJ, has previously worked in village schools in Africa, as well as in India’s Delhi Public Schools (DPS). The experiences have shaped her as both a teacher and a leader and led her to want to serve on ILA’s Board.

    “As an ILA member with Indian and West Indian heritage, my hope would be to actively promote ILA’s mission and vision of literacy for all across the globe,” she said. This, coupled with her work in underserved urban schools, fuels her passion for incorporating culturally relevant literature in the literacy classroom.

    Kunz_130x150Rounding out the new additions is Kunz, the K–12 Supervisor of Curriculum & Instruction for the Middlesex School District, NJ, and president of the New Jersey Literacy Association. His advocacy efforts have focused on addressing the need for access to books. In addition to coauthoring a book on literacy best practices, Breaking Through the Language Arts Block: Organizing and Managing the Exemplary Literacy Day (Guilford), he received the 2014 Edward Fry Endowed Graduate Fellowship at Rutgers University and was nominated for the 2007 Governor’s Teacher Recognition Program in New Jersey. Like Benjamin, he is a frequent participant of the monthly #ILAchat. Aligned with ILA’s strategic plan, his goal is to “help ILA form even stronger networks that inspire teachers from everywhere to get involved.”

    Their terms will run from 2018–2021. Headley will assume the presidency after Bernadette Dwyer’s term ends June 30, 2019.

    ILA extends its best wishes to the newly elected officers.

    Alina O'Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    ILA Earns Top Honor at Association Media & Publishing's 38th Annual EXCEL Awards

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Jun 27, 2018

    Excel AwardsILA was given the gold for its 2017 What’s Hot in Literacy Report at the Association Media & Publishing’s (AM&P) Annual EXCEL Awards. The EXCEL Awards are issued annually to recognize excellence and leadership in nonprofit association media, publishing and communications.

    ILA’s What’s Hot in Literacy report provides a global snapshot of what literacy professionals deem the most critical topics to advancing literacy worldwide. It garnered AM&P’s top honor in the special digital report category in recognition of its top-tier writing, content, design and overall packaging.

    “The What’s Hot in Literacy report tells a compelling and important story about what’s valuable to educators across the globe,” said ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “We’re proud of this report and thrilled to be included among the best and brightest in nonprofit media.”

    This year, only 92 gold winners were selected from 841 entries. 

    Excel Awards“We are privileged to recognize outstanding work in the association media and publishing industry this year. The EXCEL Awards showcase and spotlight first class association content that’s both innovative and enlightening in a rapidly changing world,” said AM&P Executive Director Michael Marchesano.

    The award winners were announced and celebrated Monday at the 38th EXCEL Awards Gala in Washington, DC. Award winning entries will be featured in the August/September issue of Signature, AM&P’s bimonthly magazine. For more information, visit

    Alina O'Donnell
    is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of
    Literacy Daily.

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    ILA 2018 Board of Directors Election Opens

    By ILA Staff
     | Mar 27, 2018

    BoardElection_w300It's Board Election time at the International Literacy Association. Members with active, eligible memberships are encouraged to vote for three at-large candidates and one vice president candidate. Read about the candidates here

    The ILA 2018 Board Election will be conducted entirely online this year. This means that individual ILA members with an active, eligible membership and a valid email address will receive an email link to vote using an online ballet. For more information, please go to

    For assistance signing into your ILA membership account, please contact ILA at 800.336.7323 (U.S. and Canada) or 302.731.1600 (all other countries).

    For technical assistance with voting, please contact Intelliscan's Andrew Arbitell at

    The newly elected Board members will begin their terms on July 1, 2018.

    The ILA 2018 Board Election closes at 5:00 p.m. ET on May 8, 2018. 

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    National Walkout Day: Teaching for Democracy

    By Katie Kelly and Marie Havran
     | Mar 21, 2018
    Books About Activism

    Today’s post-Columbine generation has never known a world without school shootings. Last Wednesday, thousands of students and teachers across the country participated in National Walkout Day in response to the mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, FL. They were met with mixed reactions from district officials, some of whom prohibited participation, citing security risks, disruptions to learning, and the need to refrain from expressing political views during the school day as justification. In some instances, students were physically blocked from exiting the building by school employees.

    We argue that this is a missed opportunity for meaningful learning about the democratic process and for teaching students how to advocate for their rights. Furthermore, teaching is a political act; it is impossible to take a neutral stance when making curricular decisions, choosing which books to include or exclude in our classrooms, and deciding whose voices and histories are being told and valued. We believe our students should not be asked to divorce their rights to freedom of speech or expression upon entering school. As educators, we owe it to our students to create spaces where they have the right to safely express their views and where their voices are valued.

    In a field driven by top-down mandates, educators’ voices are often stifled and silenced, creating a culture of compliance. As the instructional coach at my school, I, Marie, was approached by many teachers who wanted to be a part of the movement to honor and show solidarity with the victims of Stoneman Douglas High School. I agreed that this was an important opportunity to teach students about civic engagement, but the teachers and I felt limited in what we could do as a result of the district’s communication that outlined appropriate activities, so I reached out to Katie to brainstorm possible solutions.  

    After careful consideration, we decided that literature could create a conduit for conversations centered around social change. We encouraged teachers to read aloud Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Toniatiuh, which examines the Mendez family’s actions that led to school desegregation. The text was used as the foundation for classroom discussion, which provided reflection for taking action.

    Students connected the events in the text to current conversations around policy change. They channeled their feelings through authentic writing experiences—students chose to write letters to first responders, to the students of Stoneman Douglas High School, or to fellow classmates. They shared words of gratitude for the first responders, expressed feelings of hope and encouragement to the victims, and stated their desire to end school violence. Knowing a group of students organized and led the movement added an element of genuine awe as these elementary students began to realize how powerful a group of young people can be. They learned that they too have a voice and can make a difference.

    Real world reading, writing, and discussion were used as tools to foster meaningful response and to help students cope and support each other. Through each modality, a deeper understanding of their experiences was embraced in a caring and nurturing environment within the classroom community. Choosing to advocate for our students in this way allowed us to frame the larger ideas concerning the school shooting.

    At such a pivotal moment, teachers embraced tough conversations and provided a framework for future activism. Students who participated in National Walkout Day experienced an important movement as part of living history that takes learning far beyond the pages of the textbook and stretches beyond their classroom and school walls. Even when banned from participating, educators still found ways to engage their students in valuable lessons about the democratic process while imparting essential literacy, social, and life skills.

    Other books to teach young students about social activism include the following:

    • The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson (Simon & Schuster, 2017)
    • Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel (HarperCollins, 2013)
    • Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney (Little, Brown, 2010)
    • Malala Yousefzai: Warrior With Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya (StarWalk Kids Media, 2014)
    • Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson and Frank Morrison (Houghton Mifflin, 2018)
    • ¡Sí, Se Puede! / Yes, We Can!  by Diana Cohn (Cinco Puntos Press, 2005)

    Katie Stover Kelly is an associate professor of education at Furman University in Greenville, SC, and coauthor of From Pencils to Podcasts: Digital Tools to Transform K-6 Literacy Practices (Solution Tree, 2017) and Smuggling Writing: Strategies That Get Students to Write Every Day, in Every Content Area, Grades 3-12 (Corwin, 2016). Her new coauthored book with Lester Laminack will be published by Heinemann this fall. Find her on Twitter @ktkelly14.

    Marie Havran is an elementary instructional coach in Greenville, South Carolina, and an adjunct professor at Furman University. Find her on Twitter @MarieHavran.

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    Advocate, Leader, Humanitarian: ILA Mourns the Loss of Dr. William H. Teale

    By Lara Deloza
     | Feb 05, 2018

    teale-headshotToday the literacy field is reeling from the loss of an influential educator, tireless advocate, and dear friend, Dr. William H. Teale.

    Teale, the Immediate Past President of the International Literacy Association (ILA), passed away unexpectedly Saturday, in his home in Evanston, IL. He is survived by his loving wife, Junko Yokota, and two children, Alyssa and Jeremy, among other family members and friends.

    He was a professor of education, university scholar, and director of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Literacy (CFL), a public service and research center that works to improve literacy education, policy, and research at the local, state, and national levels. As part of his role at the CFL, he headed projects that provide economically underresourced families with services that facilitate their children’s early development and school readiness.

    Teale’s body of work focused on early literacy learning, the intersection of technology and literacy education, and children’s literature. One current project centered on the implementation of a networked improvement community focused on principals' instructional leadership for literacy in eight Chicago public schools. He authored more than 150 professional publications and traveled constantly, presenting conference papers and colloquia in over 25 countries around the world.

    He served as a consultant to school districts and libraries across the United States, as well as to Children’s Television Workshop, Head Start, public television, Reach Out and Read, and NGOs in developing programs focused on literacy learning and teaching. In review and advisory capacities, he worked for entities such as the National Academy of Education, the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    The contributions he made to the field are immeasurable and led to his induction into the Reading Hall of Fame in 2003.

    teale-action-shotDuring his tenure on the Board of Directors of ILA, including his 2016–17 term as president, Teale led several initiatives, including cochairing the ILA Global Task Force, a group that worked to emphasize a global agenda and matching model of governance in the organization. He was an integral member of the ILA/National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Task Force on Literacy Teacher Preparation. He also helped guide the organization during its transition from the International Reading Association to ILA.

    Although his list of professional accomplishments and honors are plentiful enough to fill a book, the hole he leaves in the literacy community runs so much deeper.

    Teale was incredibly passionate about early literacy and the importance of diverse, quality children’s literature, and he decried the inequities across the globe that denied access to both. He was the very definition of a literacy leader.

    “These are trying times,” he said in his keynote address at the ILA 2017 Conference. “And there’s nothing more important than what we as educators do to help develop readers and writers who have the knowledge and the imagination and the self-reflection and the empathy to make the times better.”

    He leaves behind a legacy as a staunch early literacy advocate, a devoted mentor, and an incredible human being.

    Lara Deloza is the senior communications manager at the International Literacy Association.

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