April 04, 2019
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -
Jacqueline Woodson was the keynote speaker at Mount Saint Mary College’s 26th Annual Conference on Literacy on Saturday, March 30.
From nurturing a love of reading in preschoolers to examining the Civil Rights movement through children’s literature, Mount Saint Mary College’s 26th Annual Conference on Literacy inspired about 200 teachers and teacher-candidates with new teaching techniques on Saturday, March 30.
Spearheaded by the college’s Collaborative for Equity in Literacy Learning (CELL), the theme of the conference was “Literacy for Hope and Change.”
Participants picked from more than a dozen workshops related to literacy and unique classroom applications, including “Teaching Students to Care: A Morally Defensible Mission” by Mount alumna Rebecca Quackenbush ’05; “(Mathematics + Literacy + Science) x Nature = Sensory Garden: An Interdisciplinary Kindness Equation” by Bishop Dunn Memorial School Principal Nancy Benfer ’04 and her son, current Mount student Charles Benfer; and “Integrating Hands-on Science into the Classroom” by Kristie Cox of Dover Plains, N.Y., a Mount student on the Education track and president of the college’s chapter of Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society.
The conference concluded with a keynote speech by author Jacqueline Woodson, formerly the Young People’s Poet Laureate. Recently, the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council, and Every Child a Reader appointed Woodson as their 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
As the National Ambassador, Woodson challenges educators to question labeling students as struggling readers and advocates for children’s power as readers to choose their own books. Woodson noted that her platform as ambassador is “Reading = Hope X Change.”
“When we read, it changes us,” she said. “It’s important for young people to have both mirrors and windows – mirrors where they see reflections of themselves in the book, and windows where they see other ways of being. Growing up, I had a lot of window books…and I knew that I wanted to write toward a more inclusive narrative.”
To that end, Woodson has published dozens of books for children and young adults that feature diverse, vibrant casts. For her work, she has received numerous awards, such as the Newbery Honor, the Coretta Scott King Book Award, and the National Book Award.
Planning for the next Annual Conference on Literacy is already underway. The event is scheduled for March 28, 2020.
Established in 2012, CELL provides tutoring and out-of-school literacy activities for children pre-school to grade 12 with a focus on reading, conversation, and activities. It explores multicultural books, offers family literacy programs, and more. Each semester, dozens of Mount teacher candidates, graduate and undergraduate, help instill a love of reading in local youth as part of their community fieldwork requirement.