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    Kwon Joins The Reading Teacher Editorial Team

    ILA Staff
     | Jul 15, 2021

    Kwon JungminJungmin Kwon, an assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University, has been named associate editor of The Reading Teacher, ILA’s peer-reviewed journal for literacy educators working with learners up to age 12.

    Kwon’s research engages with language and literacy practices of immigrant children and families, and her interests include exploring how bilingual parents support their children's language and literacy learning locally and globally. She has published in journals such as International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, Bilingual Research Journal, Language Arts, and Language and Education.

    Kwon fills the vacancy left by departing associate editor Lucia Cardenas Curiel. She will serve alongside of fellow Michigan State University educators Tanya Wright, senior editor; Patricia Edwards, coeditor; Laura Tortorelli, associate editor; and Shireen Al-Adeimi, associate editor, through June 30, 2024.

    “We are so excited for Dr. Kwon to bring her expertise to our editorial team,” said Wright.

    The July/August 2021 issue of The Reading Teacher—the first produced under the direction of the new editorial team—is will soon be available as an open-access publication.

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    International Literacy Association Names Steve Graham Recipient of 2021 William S. Gray Citation Of Merit

    ILA Staff
     | Jul 01, 2021
    Steve Graham

    The International Literacy Association (ILA) today announced the recipients of its 2021 awards and grants, including the William S. Gray Citation of Merit—ILA’s highest honor—which was awarded to Arizona State University’s (ASU) Steve Graham.

    The William S. Gray Citation of Merit honors a nationally or internationally known individual for their outstanding contributions to multiple facets of literacy development—research, theory, practice, and policy. Past recipients have included P. David Pearson, Roger Farr, and Jeanne Chall.

    Graham, an ILA member since 2007 and the Mary Emily Warner Professor in the Division of Educational Leadership at ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, is a leading expert on the educational psychology of writing and the connections between reading and writing. His research, spanning over 30 years, focuses on identifying the factors that contribute to writing development and difficulties, developing and validating effective instructional procedures for teaching writing, and the use of technology to enhance writing performance.

    “The news that I was awarded the William S. Gray Citation of Merit came the way that news so often comes today—over the web, and in this case, through email. I looked once, and then a second time, and finally on the third look, I was literally dancing on the moon,” Graham said. “I learned to read with Dick and Jane books, which Gray played a part in developing, and I have always admired his careful and methodical approach to research and instruction. I am honored to be a member of the impactful group of scholars who previously received this recognition.”

    Along with being a current member of ILA’s Literacy Research Panel, Graham is a frequent conference presenter and contributor to ILA’s journals. He is coauthor of the Handbook of Writing Research, Handbook of Learning Disabilities, Powerful Writing Strategies for All Students, and more. He is the former editor of several journals, including Exceptional Children, Journal of Writing Research, and the Journal of Educational Psychology.

    Graham has also served as an advisor to a variety of organizations, including UNESCO, National Institutes of Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and National Writing Project. He was elected to the Reading Hall of Fame in 2018.

    “Steve’s work is influencing veteran and emerging scholars, classroom teachers and school administrators, policymakers and legislators,” said ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “We are thankful for his service to our organization and the field, and we are honored to present him with this award.”

    Joining Graham in this year’s ILA awards and grants program are nine other educators and literacy leaders, including Yukie Toyama, University of California, Berkeley. Toyama received the Timothy & Cynthia Shanahan Outstanding Dissertation Award for her dissertation, “What Makes Reading Difficult? An Investigation of the Contribution of Passage, Task, and Reader Characteristics on Item Difficulty, Using Explanatory Item Response Models.”

    Other award recipients include the following:

    The full list of awards/grants and recipients can be found here.

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    Glendaliz Martinez Almonte Webinar

    By ILA Staff
     | Jun 15, 2021

    On Monday, June 7, the International Literacy Association (ILA) held “Disrupting Instructional Paradigms by Embracing Culturally Responsive Pedagogy,” a webinar featuring Glendaliz Martinez Almonte and hosted by ILA member Julius B. Anthony, who also serves as president of the St. Louis Regional Literacy Association.

    Almonte, a 20-year career educator, currently supports school districts in their planning, writing, and implementation of curriculum to ensure equity and access for marginalized students.

    More than 2,000 people registered for the event, which was sponsored by Curriculum Associates and simulcast through Facebook Live. The on-demand recording is now accessible on ILA’s YouTube Channel as well as archived on Facebook.

    The following is a list of resources Almonte recommends:

    On the web

    Teacher Competencies that Promote Culturally Responsive Teaching

    Guide published by New America to help facilitate self-appraisal, goal setting, and critical conversations across core culturally responsive teaching competencies

    Dear White Teachers: You Can’t Love Your Black Students If You Don’t Know Them

    Education Week op/ed by Bettina L. Love, associate professor of educational theory and practice at the University of Georgia

    5 Ways Culturally Responsive Teaching Benefits Learners

    Blog post from New America on how culturally responsive teaching practices promote the social, emotional, and academic development of all students

    Saddleback Books

    High interest, low reading level books for students who are learning to read or developing reading skills

    On the shelf

    The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

    An Introduction to Multicultural Education by James Banks

    Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom by Lisa Delpit

    Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research and Practice by Geneva Gay

    Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain by Zaretta Hammond

    Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching and Learning by Sharroky Hollie

    The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children by Gloria Ladson-Billings

    We Want to Do More Than Survive by Bettina Love 

    Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy by Gholdy Muhammad

    Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies: Teaching and Learning for Justice in a Changing World by Django Paris

    For young readers

    The Questioneers Series by Andrea Beatty:

    • Ada Twist, Scientist | Ada Magnifica, Scientifica
    • Sofia Valdez, Future Prez | Sofia Valdez, Presidenta Talvez
    • Rosie Revere, Engineer | Rosa Pionera, Ingeniera
    • Iggy Peck, Architect | Pedro Perfecto, Arquitecto

    Islandborn | Lola (Spanish version of Islandborn) by Junot Díaz

    La Madre Goose: Nursery Rhymes for los Niños by Susan Middleton Elya

    Latinx publishers

    Arte Publico Press

    Jade Publishing

    Lil' Libros 

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    A Friend and a Mentor: ILA Remembers Past President Jack Cassidy

    By Colleen Patrice Clark
     | May 25, 2021

    Cassidy_w340Jack Cassidy, professor emeritus at both Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and Millersville University in Pennsylvania, died on Saturday, May 22, after a long-fought battle with cancer. He was 80.

    Cassidy was a past president of the International Reading Association (IRA, now the International Literacy Association, ILA) from 1982 to 1983.

    As messages poured in following the news of his death, many focused on his stature—in intellect, heart, and even physical presence. (In fact, he was so well known for his height that he included it on his curriculum vitae: 6’4".)

    What was made clear in all of the tributes was his immense dedication to the profession, to ILA, and to the next generation of literacy leaders. He was referred to as a powerhouse, a role model, and the conscience of the field.

    Cassidy’s name is synonymous with service to ILA. He helped found its affiliates the Diamond State Reading Association and the Texas Association for Literacy Education (TALE), serving as their second and first presidents, respectively. He served on numerous committees and special interest groups (SIGs) as member or chair, including but hardly limited to the IRA Standards 2010 Committee and the Commission on the Role of the Reading Specialist. He was highly involved in IRA’s LEADER SIG and was the executive secretary of the Specialized Literacy Professionals (SLP) for three decades.

    Perhaps one of his most notable contributions was his creation of the What’s Hot, What’s Not survey, first published in IRA’s member newspaper in 1997. The project influences conversations in the field by surveying literacy experts on what topics are receiving the most and least attention, as well as what topics should be receiving attention.

    For many graduate students and preservice teachers, the survey results served as their introduction to Cassidy and his work. Many teacher educators still use the results to guide their syllabi and classroom conversations.

    But beyond his professional contributions—which included numerous books, chapters, journal articles, curriculum materials, and more—Cassidy will be remembered as a mentor and a beloved friend.

    “Our coauthorship is what has been most visible to the public,” said Stephanie Grote-Garcia, who coauthored the What’s Hot survey with Cassidy for many years, “but Dr. Cassidy’s impact and influence on my life stretches well past writing together.”

    Grote-Garcia, professor at University of the Incarnate Word in Texas, first met Cassidy early on in her career as his graduate assistant at Texas A&M. That was when he introduced her to his former graduate assistant, Robert—who is now her husband of 14 years. Cassidy, known to many for his love of celebrating friends’ and family’s milestones, even hosted their wedding reception at his home.

    “[He] remained one of my strongest supporters and influencers,” said Grote-Garcia, who cofounded TALE with him and received the organization’s Jack Cassidy Distinguished Service Award the year after it was founded and awarded to Cassidy himself. “We coauthored What’s Hot, copresented research, planned multiple conferences, and cofounded the Texas Association for Literacy Education….Dr. Cassidy’s legacy will live on through TALE, SLP, and all those who knew him. I am truly grateful to have had him as a friend and mentor.”

    “His fingerprints are everywhere”

    Though his name is most closely associated with Texas A&M and TALE, Cassidy began his career in Pennsylvania after earning an undergraduate degree in educational psychology and graduate degrees in secondary and English education, all from Temple University. He served as a classroom teacher at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, and also as a school reading specialist and a K–12 reading supervisor.

    He taught at Lehigh University, University of Delaware, and Millersville University before joining Texas A&M in 1998, where his many roles included associate dean of the College of Education and director of the Center for Educational Development, Evaluation and Research.

    Among Cassidy’s many awards: IRA’s Special Service Award, the A.B. Herr Award from the College Reading Association, and the Association for Literacy Educators and Researchers Laureate Award. He was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame in 2010.

    Cassidy was also a prolific writer and editor, most recently publishing What’s Hot in Literacy: Exemplar Models of Effective Practice (Emerald Publishing), which he coedited with Evan Ortlieb, a longtime coauthor alongside Grote-Garcia on the What’s Hot, What’s Not survey.

    “Jack’s fingerprints can be found everywhere in the field of literacy education,” said Ortlieb, dean of the Zucker Family School of Education at The Citadel. “His influence and impact on my career are substantial; my trajectory was heavily influenced by incredible opportunities bestowed to me by Jack Cassidy.”

    Ortlieb referred to Cassidy’s presence as infectious, describing how he thrived in social spaces, which made him a popular draw at conferences and meetings. “He could command a room effortlessly. His communicative approach married information dissemination with playful banter. If his name was in the program, you could rest assured it would be the most highly attended event at that time. That’s the Jack we all knew, and the one we loved.”

    “His legacy remains far beyond hot topics in literacy,” Ortlieb added. “His mentorship and selfless creation of opportunities for others serves as a foundation for all.”

    The “conscience” of the profession: Tributes from the field for Jack Cassidy

    “I don’t know of anyone in the field who cared more about and spent more time and energy tending to the welfare and integrity of the reading profession….Many of us try to be a conscience for the profession, but we pale in serving that role when we compare ourselves to Jack and the legacy he left for us. He has been our mariner in the voyage to sustain the profession. Sail on, Jack!” —P. David Pearson, University of California, Berkeley

    “His passing is a profound loss to the literacy profession. From early in my career in higher education, Jack was a mentor, a friend, and a trusted colleague. We were colleagues through our years of service for IRA/ILA. I believe he was the youngest IRA president in history. And our collegial association went well beyond our IRA/ILA service, as his writings and scholarship continued to propel me to give back to the profession in ways that he did….Jack wore many hats as a mentor, a scholar, a professional leader, and a caring and trusted colleague, but perhaps his greatest hat for me was his friendship and support, and his never-ending belief that we can all do better with others at our side.” —Victoria J. Risko, Vanderbilt University

    “In 1998, when I was elected to the IRA Board of Directors, I was told to not be surprised if one our past presidents came to our Board meetings. Well, that visionary mentor, a great literacy leader, was Jack Cassidy. During my presidential year (2010–2011), Jack was a member of the IRA Standards 2010 Committee and played a critical role in the development of these standards. Another fond memory that I have about Jack is his development of the What’s Hot, What’s Not survey, in which I had the opportunity to serve as one of the participants over the years….I appreciate and treasure everything that Jack taught me and educators throughout world.” —Patricia Edwards, Michigan State University

    “What is the importance of our professional associations? Do you have to think about that query for a moment? Jack Cassidy would have responded in a flash. Jack knew that our professional associations provided the glue that held together virtually all of our efforts from providing quality praxis to learners across the lifespan, to undertaking impactful research whether of a more basic or the applied nature, to maintaining important relations with a world of literacy stakeholders, and to successfully training new generations of teachers and reading specialists. Jack would always be at the forefront, urging our associations to be strong advocates for all of us in our field. Indeed, we as professionals are better for all of Jack Cassidy’s efforts.” —Norman Stahl, Northern Illinois University

    “Jack was known for many contributions to our field but especially his passionate commitment to our organization, his many talented doctoral students, and his innovative survey of trends in reading, the annual What’s Hot, What’s Not study. He was a friend to everyone in the literacy community and will be missed by us all. I will always remember his wide, welcoming smile each and every time we met.” —Donald J. Leu, University of Connecticut 

    “Jack was my role model for many years. We met at least 50 years ago and I was immediately taken with his sense of humor and what seemed like a desire to mentor nearly every new member of what was then the International Reading Association. That included me. Sometimes we’d do a ‘Jack and Jill show,’ mostly talking about advocacy. Despite Jack’s breadth of knowledge, he would insist that I take the lead. When he suggested I run for IRA president, it was his confidence in me that convinced me to accept the challenge….I think he was most proud of the landmark What’s Hot, What’s Not survey he had begun for IRA/ILA, that stimulated many important conversations and that offered a vehicle for Jack to provide shared authorship and recognition to many up-and-coming graduate students. Jack will be missed in his professional capacity, but even more so in his selflessness and lifelong commitment to literacy.” —Jill Lewis-Spector, New Jersey City University

    “Jack was a towering man, someone who filled the room. He had a wonderful laugh and his eyes were so expressive. I knew him primarily through his column, What’s Hot, and enjoyed being one who helped each year define and redefine his initial list [of topics], followed by his survey of whether something was hot or not….His column was popular because he knew how to speak to teachers and teacher educators. It became a trusted resource, something to look forward to each year. He was an inclusive colleague, and he will be missed by many for his magnanimity and humanity.” –Susan B. Neuman, New York University Steinhardt

    “I met Jack Cassidy 45 years ago while in graduate school at the University of Delaware. Jack was director of reading for the local school district, and later became a professor at Millersville State College in Pennsylvania. Jack was elected to the IRA Board of Directors at the time, which necessitated missing classes some nights. He pressed me into service as a substitute, and we wrote together, too. Although only a student, he always treated me with great dignity and respect and, over the years, I saw that as his normal modus operandi; status just didn’t matter to Jack. What did matter were his commitments to his wife, Drew, their family, and to our profession. No member ever attended more ILA Board meetings than Jack (sometimes to the chagrin of the Board members), nor did anyone nominate as many ILA Board and officer candidates as Jack. One of his valuable contributions was his work with ILA’s LEADER-SIG, which became a kind of proving ground for future association leadership. Most people got to know of Jack through his What’s Hot, What’s Not poll. I loved Jack dearly, but each year when he’d buttonhole me to take that poll, it would drive me nuts. It required that you judge something ‘hot or not’ without a lot of quibbling, explanation, and Hamlet-like gnashing of teeth. The poll was straightforward, just like Jack. His passing is a great loss.” —Timothy Shanahan, University of Illinois at Chicago

    “Jack Cassidy will be sorely missed. He was an almost bigger-than-life force in IRA! He was a great role model for so many of us: his enthusiastic energy and vision for improving IRA and our leadership in literacy; his critical sense of not just accepting what was but of applying his efforts to improve our services to members; his interest in each of us and desire to help us grow; and most of all, his warm smile and his inviting spirit.” —Donna Ogle, National Louis University

    “Jack Cassidy has had a monumental influence on reading/literacy for over 50 years, manifested through a range of initiatives from publications to service to an extraordinary legacy of nurturing and mentoring. His influence extended from his own writings to a host of service commitments including presidency of both IRA and the College Reading Association to a willingness to go the extra mile for others, especially his students. He had a vision for what can be and an energy and compassion that was tirelessly committed to ensuring the well-being of the field and those of us engaged in trying to make a positive difference. As one of my colleagues suggested, he was the field’s conscience. He made sure that we held all of our professional organizations as well as those credentialing and accreditation bodies that control entry to the teaching profession to the highest of standards when it came to serving the interests of students, their families, and their teachers.” —Rob Tierney, University of British Columbia

    If you would like to share a tribute for Jack Cassidy, please email

    Colleen Patrice Clark
    is the managing editor of
    Literacy Today, ILA’s member magazine.

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    ILA 2021 Board Election Results

    By ILA Staff
     | May 21, 2021

    The International Literacy Association (ILA) is pleased to announce the newly elected members of the ILA Board of Directors.

    Kenneth Kunz, Assistant Professor, Monmouth University, New Jersey; Director, For the Love of Literacy, was elected vice president. His term on the ILA Board of Directors will begin July 1, 2021. He will then assume the presidency of the Board on July 1, 2022.

    Three new Board members-at-large have also been elected for the 2021–2024 term:

    • Carol Jago, Associate Director, California Reading and Literature Project, University of California at Los Angeles
    • Molly Ness, Associate Professor, Fordham University, New York
    • Dana A. Robertson, Associate Professor, University of Wyoming; Executive Director, Literacy Research Center and Clinic

    The entire ILA community congratulates the newly elected Vice President and Board members. You can follow these Board members on Twitter at @DrKennethKunz, @CarolJago, @DrMollyNess, and @drober36, respectively.

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