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CEL Kent Williamson Exemplary Leader Award

2017 Winner: Tom Romano

Tom RomanoTom Romano teaches at Miami University, where he is the Heckert Professor of Literacy. For seventeen years he taught high school students. He spent four significant years teaching at Utah State University. His first book about teaching writing, Clearing the Way, appeared in 1987. His most recent book is Write What Matters (2015). In summers Tom teaches at the New Hampshire Literacy Institute at UNH. Among the teachers who have hurried him along are Milton White, Don Graves, Don Murray, and Thomas Newkirk. He caught the writing bug when he was twelve and hasn’t been able to shake it.


CEL Annual ConventionThe award presentation will be held at the opening session on Sunday, November 19 during the CEL Annual Convention in St. Louis, Missouri.



Award Information

CEL logo

Nomination Deadline:  March 1

Purpose:  The award is given annually to an NCTE member who is an outstanding English language arts educator and leader.

Award Criteria:  NCTE and CEL members are encouraged to nominate an exceptional leader who has had an ongoing impact on the profession through the following: 

  • Work that has focused on exceptional teaching and/or leadership practices;
  • Contributions to the profession through involvement at the local, regional, and national levels;
  • Presentations, workshops, and publications that have had an impact upon school leaders.

Candidates not selected for the year in which they are nominated will receive consideration for the next two years.

Award Specifics:  The recipient receives a plaque, a one-year complimentary CEL membership, and the gift of a one-year complimentary CEL membership to present to a colleague. The award is presented at the CEL Annual Convention.

The CEL Kent Williamson Exemplary Leader Award is named in honor of Kent D. Williamson (1957-2015), who served as NCTE's Executive Director from 2000-2015.

Deadline:   All nominations must contain the Nomination Form, two letters of recommendation, and the candidate’s curriculum vitae. Nomination materials must be submitted by March 1 to the CEL Award Committee at

Judging:  The CEL Award Committee determines the recipient from the nominations submitted within the calendar year. For full consideration, award applications must be received no later than March 1. Candidates not selected for the year in which they are nominated will receive consideration for the next two years.

Past Winners:

2017:  Tom Romano, Miami University, Oxford, OH
2016:  Carol Jago, University of California, Los Angeles
2015:  Penny Kittle, Kennett High School, North Conway, NH
2014:  Douglas B. Fisher, University of San Diego, CA
2013:  Rick Chambers, Ontario College of Teachers, Toronto, ON, Canada
2012:  Harvey “Smokey” Daniels, National Louis University, Chicago, IL
2011:  Kylene Beers, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY
2010:  Joan Kaywell, University of South Florida, Tampa
2009:  Carolyn Phipps, St. Mary’s Episcopal School, Memphis, TN
2008:  Louann Reid, Colorado State University, Fort Collins
2007:  Jim Mahoney, The College of New Jersey, Ewing
2006:  Jim Strickland, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA
2005:  June Langford Berkley, Worthington, OH
2004:  Robert E. Probst, Georgia State University, Athens
2003:  George B. Shea, Jr., Belleville West High School, Belleville, IL
2002:  V. Paula Hodges, Forgan High School, Forgan, OK
2001:  Wendell Schwartz, Adlai Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, IL
2000:  Jim Burke, Burlingame High School, Burlingame, CA

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