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Annual Convention Speakers

Great sessions are being planned already for the 2014 convention

More information will be posted in early 2014, but here's a look back at the terrific speakers we had in Boston!

First Wave

First WaveThe First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community is a cutting-edge multicultural artistic program for incoming students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Bringing together young artists and leaders from across the U.S and beyond, the First Wave Learning Community offers students the opportunity to live, study, and create together in a close-knit, dynamic campus community. Administered by the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI), the First Wave Learning Community is the first university program in the country centered on urban arts, spoken word, and hip-hop culture.

The First Wave Hip Hop Theater Ensemble is a groundbreaking collective of spoken word poets, MC’s, dancers, singers, actors, and hip hop artists attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison. First Wave is an emerging leader on the national hip-hop theater scene, pushing the boundaries of poetry, dance, and theater. 

First Wave performed at the Friday General Session on November 22.


Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Jarrett Krosoczka; photo by Jeanne BirdsallJarrett J. Krosoczka has been passionate about storytelling through words and pictures since he was a kid.  Six months after graduation, Jarrett received his first contract for a trade book that he authored. Knopf Books for Young Readers published Good Night, Monkey Boy on June 12, 2001, and Jarrett hasn’t stopped or slowed down since.

He currently has authored twenty published books—ten picture books, nine graphic novels and his new chapter book—Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked. His Lunch Lady series has twice won a Children's Choice Book Award, in the Third to Fourth Grade Book of the Year category, and was nominated for a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award.

Krosoczka's TED Talk, which chronicles his journey form boy to artist, has been viewed more than a half-million times. Both his Punk Farm and Lunch Lady series are in development as feature films. While Jarrett awaits seeing his work adapted for the silver screen, he can be heard on The Book Report with JJK, his radio segment on Sirius XM's Kids Place Live. Krosoczka is happily living out his childhood dream in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he resides with his wife and daughters and their pug, Ralph Macchio.

Jarrett Krosoczka spoke at the Elementary Section Get-Together on Thursday, November 21.



Neal Shusterman

Neal SchustermanNeal Shusterman, New York Times bestselling author, has written more than thirty award-winning books for children, teens, and adults, including Full Tilt, The Skinjacker Trilogy (Everlost, Everwild, and Everfound), Unwind, UnWholly, Bruiser, and The Schwa Was Here, which won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for fiction. Several of his books are now in development as feature films.

By the time he earned his Bachelor's degree from the University of California, Irvine, Shusterman had his first book deal and was hired to write a movie script. In the years since, he has made his mark as a successful novelist, screenwriter, and television writer. His books have received many awards from organizations like the International Reading Association and the American Library Association, as well as garnering a myriad of state and local awards across the country.

Shusterman’s talents also include film directing (two short films he directed won him the coveted CINE Golden Eagle Awards) and writing music and stage plays. Shusterman has written for the "Goosebumps" and "Animorphs" TV series, and wrote the Disney Channel movie "Pixel Perfect". He is currently adapting his novel Everlost as a feature film for Universal Studios. Wherever Shusterman goes, he quickly earns a reputation as a storyteller and dynamic speaker.

Neal Shusterman spoke at the Middle Section Get-Together on Thursday, November 21.



Teri Lesesne and Suzanne Lane

Teri S. LeseneTeri S. Lesesne is a professor at Sam Houston State University, where she teaches graduate classes in young adult and children’s literature in the Department of Library Science. She is a ten-year veteran of the middle school English classroom, having taught in Alief I.S.D. in Houston, Texas. A frequent speaker at conferences, Teri also visits schools each year to tell students about good books to read.

Her publications include Making the Match: The Right Book for the Right Reader at the Right Time, Grades 4-12 and Naked Reading: Uncovering what Students Need to become Lifelong Readers  from Stenhouse Publishers, and her most recent book, Reading Ladders: Leading Readers from Where They Are To Where We Want Them To Be from Heineman.

Lesesne’s columns have appeared in a variety of journals including: Signal, The Journal of Reading, English in Texas, The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, and The ALAN Review and VOYA. She serves on the Advisory Board for The ALAN Review, English Journal, and VOYA.

She serves as Executive Director of ALAN, the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE and is the 2007 recipient of the ALAN Award for contributions to the field of YA literature.  She has served on numerous book selection committees including Printz, Quick Picks, Odyssey, and Morris for YALSA.  She maintains two blogs and reviews books for various journals as well.  In her spare time, Lesesne is the proud grandmother of three charming granddaughters and three handsome grandsons. Teri is a licensed motorcyclist who hopes to find some time soon to continue exploring the backroads of Texas on her “hog.”

Suzanne Lane has taught writing at the University of Colorado, Boulder, at Harvard University, and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has also taught American literature and cultural studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and at California State University, San Bernardino.

Lane's primary interests are in rhetorical genre theory and cultural studies; this has led to work in the rhetoric of slavery (some of which has been published in African American Review), in the study of how students learn to distinguish the genres of different disciplines (through work with the Harvard Study of Undergraduate Writing), and in more theoretical work on the emerging genres and methodologies of interdisciplinary scholarship.

Teri Lesesne and Suzanne Lane spoke at the Secondary Section Get-Together on Thursday, November 21.



Rita Williams-Garcia

Rita Williams-GarciaRita Williams-Garcia is the author of the Newbery Honor–winning novel One Crazy Summer, which was also a winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, a National Book Award finalist, the recipient of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and a New York Times bestseller.

She is also the author of six distinguished novels for young adults: Jumped, a National Book Award finalist; No Laughter Here, Every Time a Rainbow Dies (a Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book), and Fast Talk on a Slow Track (all ALA Best Books for Young Adults); Blue Tights; and Like Sisters on the Homefront, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book.

Williams-Garcia lives in Jamaica, New York, is on the faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in the Writing for Children & Young Adults Program, and has two adult daughters, Stephanie and Michelle, and a son-in-law, Adam.  

Rita Williams-Garcia spoke at the Middle Section Luncheon on Friday, November 22.




Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson; photo by Joyce Tenneson.jpgLaurie Halse Anderson has loved writing since second grade. She began as a freelance reporter for newspapers and magazines, but she had a lot to learn about writing. She earned hundreds of discouraging rejection letters when she started submitting her books to publishers.

She joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and found a supportive critique group. That made all the difference. Laurie started her career as a picture book writer and still enjoys writing them. Her newest picture book, The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School, illustrated by Ard Hoyt, was released in 2009. Laurie is probably best known for her Young Adult novels. Her debut novel, Speak, was a National Book Award Finalist, a New York Times bestseller, and a Printz Honor book. Her most recent YA novel, Wintergirls debuted on the New York Times bestseller list and received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Booklist, and Kirkus.

Anderson’s first historical fiction novel, Fever 1793, received multiple national and state awards, and was adapted into a stage play in May, 2004. In 2008, Chains was released, the first in a trilogy set in the Revolutionary War time period. Chains was named a National Book Award finalist, and also received the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction and the ALA Best Book for Young Adults award, together with multiple media and bookseller recognitions.

Forge, the sequel to Chains, was published in 2010. In 2009, the Young Adult Library Services Association presented Anderson with the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award for Catalyst, Fever 1793, and Speak. In doing so, YALSA "recognizes an iconic and classic storyteller who in her character development has created for teens a body of work that continues to be widely read and cherished by a diverse audience."

Laurie Halse Anderson spoke at the Conference on English Education Luncheon on Friday, November 22.



Carol Jago and Kelly Gallagher

Carol JagoCarol Jago has taught English in middle and high school for 32 years, is a past president of the National Council of Teachers of English, and serves as an associate director of the California Reading and Literature Project at UCLA.

Jago served as AP Literature content advisor for the College Board and has published six books for teachers with Heinemann. She has also published four books on contemporary multicultural authors for NCTE's High School Literature series. Jago has written a weekly education column for the Los Angeles Times, and her essays have appeared in English Journal, Language Arts, NEA Today, as well as in other newspapers across the nation. She edits the journal of the California Association of Teachers of English, California English, and served on the planning committee for the 2009 NAEP Reading Framework and the 2011 NAEP Writing Framework.

Kelly GallagherFor the past 22 years, Kelly Gallagher has been dedicated to building and sharing his knowledge about literacy. In addition to teaching English full-time at Magnolia High School in Anaheim, California, Gallagher has an extensive background in secondary literacy education. He served as the English Coordinator for the Anaheim Union High School District, an urban district comprised of 37,000 secondary students; a co-director of the South Basin Writing Project at California State University Long Beach; and an adjunct professor at California State University, Fullerton, where he taught secondary literacy courses.

Gallagher is a teacher and a former statewide trainer for the Puente Project, a University of California outreach program that prepares under-represented high school students for successful transition into universities. He has also served as a teacher leader in the California Reading and Literature Project, both at the University of California Los Angeles and University of California Irvine.

Carol Jago and Kelly Gallagher spoke at High School Matters on Friday, November 22.  



Carolyn Calhoon-Dillahunt

Carolyn Calhoon-DillahuntCarolyn Calhoon-Dillahunt teaches English, primarily developmental writing, and public speaking at Yakima Valley Community College in Washington State. On her campus she has also been actively involved in learning communities (including team teaching a developmental math/writing course developed through a MAC grant), writing centers, and assessment work, and has received accolades for her teaching.

Prior to teaching in the community college, she taught middle school Spanish and Language Arts and high school English (literature) and Speech/Debate. She earned her M.A. in Composition and Rhetoric at Washington State University, where her interests included multicultural and developmental education, writing centers, and writing assessment.

She continues to actively research basic writing and writing assessment (particularly portfolio-based assessment). She has authored journal articles related to writing programs in the two-year college and teaching developmental writing and regularly presents at TYCA conferences, the NCTE Annual Convention, and CCCC Convention.

Calhoon-Dillahunt is an engaged member of TYCA, NCTE, and CCCC, having served on the executive committees of each group and regularly participating in committee work. She is the immediate past chair of the Two-Year College English Association (TYCA), and serves as a reviewer for the journal, Teaching English in the Two-Year College (TETYC).

Carolyn Calhoon-Dillahunt spoke at the College Celebration on Friday, November 22.



Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean MyersWalter Dean Myers is the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of more than eighty books for children and young adults, including Sunrise Over Fallujah, Fallen Angels, Monster, Somewhere in the Darkness, Slam!, Jazz, and Harlem. Myers has received two Newbery Honors, five Coretta Scott King Awards, and was the inaugural recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

In addition, he was the winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award and the 1994 recipient of the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring an author for a "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature."He is considered one of the preeminent writers for children. In 2012, he was named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

Myers began writing at an early age. Realizing that his family would not be able to afford college, he joined the Army on his seventeenth birthday. When he got out, he worked various jobs and he wrote at night. A winning contest entry with the Council on Interracial Books for Children became his first book, Where Does the Day Go? Myers’ 2009 title, Amiri and Odette: A Love Story, is a modern retelling of Swan Lake. In 2010, Myers received the Rutgers University Award for Literature for Young Adults, from the New Jersey Center for the Book and the Rutgers School of Communications.

Walter Dean Myers spoke at the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE (ALAN) Breakfast on Saturday, November 23.



Steve Jenkins

Steve JenkinsSteve Jenkins has written and illustrated many award-winning children’s books, including the 2003 Caldecott Honor recipient, What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? His latest book, My First Day explores the first day in the lives of animals.

His books combine science and the natural world with stunning paper collage illustrations. He is graphic designer, illustrator, and author of more than thirty books, and has collaborated on several books with his wife, Robin Page, and his father.

Steve Jenkins spoke at the Books for Children Luncheon on Saturday, November 23.



Ishmael Beah

Ishmael Beah; photo by John MadereIshmael Beah, born in 1980 in Sierra Leone, West Africa, is the New York Times bestselling author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier and the forthcoming novel Radiance of Tomorrow. A Long Way Gone has been published in over thirty languages and was nominated for a Quill Award in 2007. Time Magazine named the book as one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2007, ranking it at number three.

Beah's work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vespertine Press, LIT, Parabola, and numerous academic journals. He is a UNICEF Ambassador and Advocate for Children Affected by War; a member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Advisory Committee; an advisory board member at the Center for the Study of Youth and Political Violence at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; visiting scholar at the Center for International Conflict Resolution at Columbia University; visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Genocide, Conflict Resolution, and Human Rights at Rutgers University; cofounder of the Network of Young People Affected by War (NYPAW); and president of the Ishmael Beah Foundation.

He has spoken before the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, and many panels on the effects of war on children. He is a graduate of Oberlin College with a BA in Political Science and resides in New York City.

Ishmael Beah spoke at the Secondary Section Luncheon on Saturday, November 23.



Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker; photo by Max GerbeSteven Pinker is an experimental psychologist and one of the world’s foremost writers on language, mind, and human nature. Currently Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, Pinker has also taught at Stanford and MIT.

His research on visual cognition and the psychology of language has won prizes from the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and the American Psychological Association. He has also received seven honorary doctorates, several teaching awards at MIT and Harvard, and numerous prizes for his books The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate.

He is Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and often writes for The New York Times, Time, and The New Republic. He has been named Humanist of the Year, Prospect magazine’s "The World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals," Foreign Policy’s "100 Global Thinkers," and Time Magazine’s "The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today." 

Steven Pinker spoke at the College Section/CCCC Luncheon on Saturday, November 23.



Kathy Short

Kathy ShortThe theme of this year’s affiliate roundtable breakfast is "(Re)Inventing Your Affiliate for the Future." NCTE Vice President Kathy Short will present "Creating a Culture of Collaborative Inquiry."

Kathy Short teaches in the Language, Reading, and Culture program at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and works with graduate teaching assistants on a children’s literature course that is taken by preservice teachers in elementary and early childhood education. Currently director of World of Words, an initiative focused on encouraging thoughtful dialogue around children’s literature to build bridges across global cultures, Short serves on the Notable Books for a Global Society Award Committee as well as the editorial boards of Language Arts, Reading Research Quarterly, and Literary Research Association (NRC) Yearbook.

The 2011 NCTE Outstanding Educator in the Language Arts has a long history with the National Council of Teachers of English. She has held positions on NCTE’s Executive Committee, Commission on Curriculum, and Study Group and Teleconference Project. The former elementary classroom teacher also served as chair of NCTE’s Elementary Section Steering Committee.

The Affiliate Roundtable Breakfast is on Sunday, November 24.




Nic Bishop and Sy Montgomery

Tracking Tapirs and Chasing Cheetahs: Adventures with Scientists in the Field

Nic Bishop and Sy MontgomeryNic Bishop
started taking photographs at age nine when he borrowed his sister’s box brownie camera—his family lived in Khartoum in the Sudan at the time. Ever since, Bishop has not only captured some of the most revealing and stunning photographs in our natural world, but he continues to capture an audience that transcends age. 

He holds a doctorate in the biological sciences, and is the photographer of many acclaimed books for children on subjects ranging from snow leopards to black holes. Bishop was home-schooled in the highlands of Papua New Guinea when he was a teenager and often hiked into the mountains in search of adventure.

Bishop has published numerous nonfiction titles with Houghton Mifflin—one being The Snake Scientist with Sy Montgomery, the first entry in the Scientists in the Field series, and his most recent being the winner of the Sibert medal, Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot, with Sy Montgomery. His next book for Houghton Mifflin is about tapirs. He lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Sibert Medalist Sy Montgomery has studied pink dolphins of the Amazon; she has been chased by an angry silverback gorilla in Zaire; bitten by a vampire bat in Costa Rica; undressed by an orangutan in Borneo; and hunted by a tiger in India. She also worked in a pit crawling with eighteen thousand snakes in Manitoba; handled a wild tarantula in French Guiana; and mingled with the world’s largest and most unusual parrots in New Zealand.

Along with photographer Nic Bishop, she created the first book published in the Scientists in the Field series: The Snake Scientist. Since then she has written The Tarantula Scientist, Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea, Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia, and Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot, all with photographs by Nic Bishop.  In 2011, Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot was the Sibert Medal winner for most distinguished informational book.  She next writes about tapirs.

Nic Bishop and Sy Montgomery spoke at the Children's Literature Assembly Breakfast on Sunday, November 24.



Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky; photo by Eric AntoniouRobert Pinsky served an unprecedented three terms as the United States Poet Laureate from 1997 to 2000. He founded the Favorite Poem Project shortly after he was nominated in 1997. The project documents the presence of poetry in American’s lives.

Pinsky’s poems have earned praise for their wild musical energy and ambitious range. His The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 was a Pulitzer Prize nominee and received the Lenore Marshall Award and the Ambassador Book Award of the English Speaking Union. Pinsky’s landmark, best-selling translation of The Inferno of Dante received the Los Angeles Times Book Award in poetry and the Howard Morton Landon Prize for translation.

His book, due in August 2013, will be Singing School: Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry by Studying with the Masters. He is also editing The Best of the Best American Poetry, the twenty-fifth volume of the popular Best American Poetry series. Pinsky is the poetry editor for Slate and publishes frequently in magazines such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Threepenny Review, American Poetry Review, and The Best American Poetry anthologies. He teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University.

Robert Pinsky spoke at the Conference on English Leadership Luncheon on Sunday, November 24.



Sandy Hayes

Sandy HayesSandy Hayes, an eighth-grade English teacher at Becker Middle School in Becker, Minnesota, and chair of staff development in her school district, earned her National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification in 1996 and has been a classroom teacher since 1974. A leader in the Minnesota Council of Teachers of English, she serves as Web editor and fall workshop organizer and is a former president and former editor of the group’s newsletter and journal.

Her previous work with NCTE includes serving as chair of its Middle Level Section Steering Committee (2005–2008) and as Middle Level Representative-at-Large on the NCTE Executive Committee (2003–2005).  Hayes is an author or editor of a number of articles on writing, literature, and 21st century literacies, featured in journals such as Voices from the Middle, Language Arts, Cable in the Classroom, and Minnesota English Journal. She was the lead author of the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) Literary Map for English (NCTE and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills), as well as a contributor to “Teaching Multimodal/Multimedia Literacy,” a chapter in Reading the Past, Writing the Future, a book celebrating the 100th anniversary of NCTE in 2011.

Sandy Hayes presented her Presidential Address, "Standards, Students, and the Meaning of Life," at the Sunday General Session on November 24. 


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