Literacy Daily

Latest Posts
  • Content Types
  • Blog Posts
  • Job Functions
  • Administrator
  • Classroom Teacher
  • Corporate Sponsor
  • Librarian
  • Literacy Coach
  • Literacy Education Student
  • Other/Literacy Champion
  • Partner Organization
  • Policymaker
  • Reading Specialist
  • Retiree
  • Special Education Teacher
  • Teacher Educator
  • Tutor
  • Volunteer
  • News & Events
  • ILA News

Catching Up With ILA’s First 30 Under 30 Class

By Nicole Lund
 | Mar 10, 2016

30 under 30 cover 2015Last year, ILA recognized 30 outstanding leaders from across the globe whose efforts are reshaping the literacy landscape in new and powerful ways. Now we’re catching up with these trailblazers about the strides they have made since being featured in our inaugural 30 Under 30 list.

The last we spoke with Bhawana Shrestha, Teach for Nepal fellow and teacher at Jyotidaya Cooperative School in Chapagaun, Lalitpur, she was fighting to get her students back in classes after the devastating April 2015 earthquake. This year, Shrestha has been busy reconstructing her school and bringing attention to education inequality in Nepal through her blog. Still as dedicated as ever to her students, Shrestha is proud to report that two of her female students received scholarships to continue their education after Shrestha’s work caught the international community’s attention.

Seventh-grade math teacher Meagan Stass has found increased recognition for her success since being featured in the 30 Under 30 list. Not only has she been approached for several interviews and articles, but she is also a Chicago Khan Academy Ambassador, allowing her to host workshops and further develop her literacy strategies. Her innovative “flipped” teaching model has attracted the attention of educators across the United States who want to incorporate literacy in the math classroom. “It’s been a pleasure meeting with teachers and discussing how I approach teaching math through technology, literacy, and student-centered activities,” says Stass. “I am beyond grateful for this ILA recognition. It encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and gave me the courage to grow as a professional.”

Alejandro Gac-Artigas continues to see Springboard Collaborative, the literacy organization he founded to help end the summer reading gap, flourish. From his home base in Philadelphia, PA, Gac-Artigas is in the process of expanding Springboard further into the East Coast and Bay Area. When we published our inaugural list, Springboard was serving 2,000 students; this year, that number is expected to double.

Last year, Madrid-based high school teacher Inés Guillorme partnered with a Florida school to encourage cross-cultural collaboration in the classroom. Now, she has used the increased attention from the 30 Under 30 list to bring several new global education initiatives into schools around the world. These projects include a book review exchange through the Virtual Teenage Library as well as the Global Climate Change Project, which encourages students to research and debate the planet’s future. She has also become involved with Edcamp Global, a virtual conference connecting students from such diverse places as Canada, Argentina, France, Italy, and Japan, among others. “Despite the obvious challenges involved in overcoming language barriers and coordinating schedules with schools internationally, our global initiatives continue to be highly successful and encouraging,” Guillorme says.

Ana Dodson, founder of Peruvian Hearts, has seen her organization gain more support since the 30 Under 30 list. Perhaps even more important, the gender inequality and cycle of poverty that Peruvian Hearts is working to reverse has attracted the attention of more people in the international community. “I heard from people who support the value of girls’ education as a critical social justice issue as well as a key to changing the world and impacting intergenerational poverty,” she says. Dodson has received an outpouring of encouragement and donations that will go far in continuing her mission.

Benjamin Freeman is continuing to bridge the achievement gap in his native Liberia through the organization he founded, the Liberia Institute for the Promotion of Academic Excellence (LIPACE). In the past year, LIPACE has implemented a core literacy project called Libraries for Change to address the lack of textbooks in Liberia. The initiative seeks to build 50 microlibraries in underprivileged neighborhoods by 2018. “Our collective resolve, willpower, courage, passion, and fortitude to implement this project stem from our recognition as one of the [30 Under 30] inaugural honorees,” Freeman says.

Special education teacher Christina Richard is continuing her work with her school’s glee club in New York City, which has reached more than 250 at-risk students by encouraging them to express themselves through literacy, music, and dance. Richard was also named a Scholastic Cool Teacher thanks to the 30 Under 30 list.

Louise Baigelman, executive director of Story Shares in New York, has been working hard the past year expanding her organization and reaching as many struggling teen and young adult readers as possible. In the past six months alone, Story Shares, which provides readable content for students reading below grade level, has been adopted by more than 200 schools and programs. Furthermore, a Kickstarter campaign brought in $50,000 to the organization, and its digital library of Relevant Reads is continuing to grow. “There are so many ways to make reading exciting,” Baigelman says. “This is just the first chapter.”

When named to the 30 Under 30 list, Marique Daugherty, a language and literacy specialist jn Jamaica,was establishing The Five Steps Literacy Programme with support in reading, comprehension, fluency, and word recognition. She is now in the United Kingdom and is “thrilled” to expand the program there. She continues researching the effects of language on the literacy rates of Jamaican high school students.

Jennifer Albro’s nonprofit Pages & Chapters has seen tremendous growth and support this year. Her partnerships with several K–5 schools in the Kansas City and Washington, DC, areas have continued to flourish and increase student academic performance. Several publications have recognized Albro’s work in providing a supportive learning environment both in and out of the classroom, increasing the organization’s visibility in the literacy community and encouraging more volunteers to get involved.

Kids Tales founder and Wisconsin teenager Katie Eder garners continued success in expanding her organization. Kids Tales, which organizes creative writing workshops for underserved 8- to 12-year-olds, has been busy preparing for their summer programs. This year, there will be 30 workshops offered throughout the United States, as compared with only nine last year. Eder is focused on international impact by expanding her program into Canada and teaching a workshop at a Guatemalan orphanage, as well as sending a group of high school students to a Syrian refugee camp in Hungary this summer through Kids Tales’ partnership with AFS Intercultural Programs.

Nominations for the 2016 30 Under 30 list open Monday and will run through May 16.

Nicole Lund is ILA’s communication intern.


Leave a comment

Back to Top


Recent Posts