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IRA Chicago Convention Begins as Last Day of Preparation Concludes

 | Apr 30, 2012

On Sunday, April 29, as the day long Institute sessions were in process, the McCormick Center West Building stirred to life. Final preparations were made for the International Reading Association’s three-day Celebrating Teaching convention. As more and more attendees arrived to register and collect their badges and materials, the place began to swell with educators from across the world.

Excitement is building for the Monday morning General Session, during which IRA President Victoria Risko will officially open the event. Dr. Steve Perry, CNN education correspondent and passionate advocate for educational change, will deliver the keynote address.

On this Sunday, groups of teachers could be spotted stretched out in the hallways, pouring over their program books to select the particular program sessions that will make up their respective conference itineraries. Attendees seeking to join IRA or renew their memberships streamed over from the registration counters to the new membership booth, while others who needed answers to specific questions lined up at the information desk to get the directions they needed.

Membership Booth 



Members and potential members ask questions at the IRA Membership Booth 

IRA Membership Booth 




Attendees take a break at the Membership Booth

IRA Annual Convention 2012 

Attendees review the program






Behind the long curtain wall just past the registration desk, the finishing touches were put on IRA’s spectacular new bookstore. Visitors recalling the Association’s past convention booths will be struck with awe at the size and scope this outstanding facility now offers, replete with ample bookshelves and a sofa lounge.

IRA Annual Convention Bookstore

New IRA Bookstore


In the aisles of the Exhibit Hall vendor staffs were racing to get their booths erected and stocked, while convention hall staff laid carpets and removed unpacked cases and containers. The place has now been transformed into a colorful wonder-world of educational products, and tomorrow it will be staffed by vendor representatives ready to meet and greet the visiting multitudes.

Substantive meetings of Association groups began in earnest. In the morning, IRA’s International Development Coordinating Committees (IDCCs) began a day of intensive planning of projects and events for the coming year. In another meeting room, the new members of the IRA Teacher Advisory Panel joined their colleagues for briefings from the Association’s Executive Committee and IRA’s New Executive Director, Marcie Craig Post.

IDCC Meeting at IRA Annual Convention


Dr. Oscar J. Martinez-Alaniz (center) with IDCC members

Michelle Cardaronella and Margaret Muthiga await their TAP colleagues



In the late afternoon, the action shifted to the Chicago Hilton for IRA’s annual Council Awards presentation. In the packed International Ballroom, representatives of councils that qualified for recognition by meeting the established criteria were called up on stage to receive their well-earned honors.

Council and International Awards

Council and International Awards


Upstairs in one of the Hilton meeting rooms, the ReadWriteThink advisory board meeting took place. Staff teams from IRA and the National Council of Teachers of English got together with an official from the Verizon Foundation, which supports the online resource through a grant program, to discuss new apps and other enhancements that are being developed now to meet release dates later in the year.

ReadWriteThink group at IRA Annual Convention 

ReadWriteThink  Advisory Board Meeting




As the evening drew on after all of this, the lobby lounges at the convention hotels began to swell over with joyous commotion as colleagues and friends reunited once again to share personal and professional news, while other groups of attendees searched out the cab stands to explore the attractions of this great city, Chicago.

It’s here now. It has started. The buzz is in the air, and the celebration is on. Focus now turns not to celebrities or politicians, but to the real heroes of this epoch’s greatest challenge, namely classroom teachers. These dedicated professionals bring the gifts of literacy to millions of students, while contending with evaporating budget support and mounting public scrutiny.  It’s time somebody celebrated them, and IRA is just the just the right group to do it. Daily walk-in registrations are still available. To find out how to register, visit


Program Grid with Details about Speakers and Sessions

Program Grid Event Search Tool

Itinerary Planner Tool

Interactive Digital Version of the Program

Annual Convention Guide to the Stars Book Signing Schedule

List of Author Sessions PDF from Engage

More About the Annual Convention

Register for the International Reading Association Annual Convention

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