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Roads Old and New

By Charles Moore
 | Sep 16, 2019

roads-old-and-new_w680Driving back from Austin, TX, last July felt like flying. The road back to Houston is pretty enough: rusting barbed wire fences, rolling hills covered in bluebonnets rising and falling like waves on the ocean. I left the International Literacy Association (ILA) 2018 Conference ready to conquer the world, feeling euphoria course through my nerve endings, yearning to write about my experience, seeking more of those who share this passion for literacy.

I knew, as I left ILA 2018, that I was rushing back to a new school, a new team, and that newness would be both a challenge and a blessing. What I later learned was that I would find myself welcomed with open arms.

The energy of those I met in person at ILA 2018, or revered from afar, filled me with confidence and reminded me that traveling familiar roads can lead me back to people and places that provide comfort and much-needed reassurance as I face what is certainly the greatest work I’ll ever do.

Soon, I’ll follow a new road that will lead me east, through the crawfish farms on the Louisiana border, to Lafayette, and on to the Big Easy: New Orleans and ILA 2019. This time, though, I won’t be at ILA as an attendee. By some stroke of luck, my badge will read: Presenter. Nor will I be traveling that road alone; I’ll ride in the company of two teachers who are passionate about literacy in ways that I can describe only as inspirational.

Finding familiarity in the passion for literacy that my coworkers embody empowers me to continue down that new and unfamiliar road. Megan Thompson and Helen Becker, two incredible educators, feel the pull of that road too. That subconscious force that compels them to advocate for students and teachers in our school and across our country. As culture creators, they throw their hearts and souls into their work.

Teaching feels a lot like traveling down a road. Sometimes I feel too robotic, like my GPS took control, and other times I feel lost in time and space with a sense of panic spreading over my consciousness like spilled ink. But when I lean on our culture, our literacy ethos, the panic and fear vanish, and suddenly those post-conference emotions emerge from the work we hurl ourselves into every morning.

Creating a Culture of Literacy, this year’s conference theme, implores us to bring our best ideas together. Roads far and wide converge on New Orleans in October and, at this point of convergence, literacy culture will reflect on itself and radiate back across our world, empowering teachers and students to explore their place in it.

Please join us at ILA 2019. We’ll be the trio with matching outfits and nervous—but determined—expressions on our faces.

Charles Moore, an ILA member since 2017, teaches sophomores and juniors at Clear Creek High School in League City, Texas. He blogs monthly for

This article originally appeared in the open access July/August issue of Literacy Today, ILA’s member magazine.

The trio of Charles Moore, Megan Thompson, and Helen Becker will present “Not Averse to Verse: Using Novels in Verse to Engage English Language Learners” on Saturday, Oct. 12, from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM. For more information, visit

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