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An Important Message from the Leaders of NCTE

February 13, 2015

Dear NCTE Members,

The visionary leadership of Kent Williamson has provided a pathway for the National Council of Teachers of English to re-imagine its role as a professional organization. That leadership of a movement for change is a legacy that will continue as Kent transitions from the role of executive director to executive emeritus. Barbara Cambridge, former director of the NCTE Washington, DC, office, will guide the Council in moving forward in advocating for capacity building through her new role as interim executive director. The following statements provide their explanations for this shift in leadership.

--NCTE President, Kathy Short


 Since I was appointed executive director of NCTE during the 2000 Annual Convention in Milwaukee, my professional life has been a pleasure and an adventure. From the outset, I was an unlikely choice. While I had taught a little in the Peace Corps and as a graduate assistant, I was not an English teacher. My practical preparation working on budget and membership did prove a useful background; but, as the work matured, a different type of leadership incentive emerged, one based on passion and appreciation for the remarkable professionalism of NCTE members. The resourceful teachers I've met and worked with through the Council are the real strength of NCTE. In various roles I've been extremely fortunate to spend over 30 years in your company.

After the discovery of a major health issue last year, my battle to return to good health began, and it continues. Unfortunately, in recent months it has taken so much energy that I feel I can no longer carry out essential duties of the executive director position. Council leaders have come up with a savvy solution to keep NCTE momentum surging: they have appointed a wonderfully capable interim executive director who will lead NCTE forward until a permanent replacement is hired. I will help on special projects as executive emeritus.

I'll also carry with me many special memories: the delight of young teachers at their first NCTE Convention, the lasting mentorship bonds among those participating in caucus or "shared interest" communities, the thoughtful speakers and writers who kept us focused on powerful scholarship even as so many policymakers seemed headed in other directions. And, selfishly, the opportunity to build my circle of loyal and sensitive friends from within our staff and across the nation who continue to do their best to support and uplift me. Who wouldn't want a career like that?

So I'm confident that we won't miss a beat as the Council builds capacity for rich literacy learning in every school and classroom. I'll always appreciate our many years of work together in support of wonderful colleagues and students. I hope to see many of you in the months and years to come.

-- Kent Williamson


The future is bright for NCTE as our organization activates a movement to build capacity for literacy teaching and learning in schools and communities across the nation. The visionary leadership of Kent Williamson, who has stimulated the thinking and actions of members and staff throughout his time as executive director, has contributed to the current vitality of the organization and the promise of a flourishing future. I can confidently accept the role of NCTE interim executive director based partly on the direction and momentum Kent has provided. I say that with deep appreciation.

Another basis for optimism is my conviction that NCTE can make a difference in the professional lives of educators. I know that from my own life. NCTE was the first professional organization that I joined as a junior high school teacher. When I moved from secondary into college teaching while working on my doctorate, I became active in CCCC. For the next 20 years of teaching at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, I relished CCCC's conferences and journals as sources of professional energy and knowledge. As I taught rhetoric and composition courses; headed consecutively a writing center, a writing program, and a WAC program; and became associate provost, I continued to grow in my professional identity through NCTE.

Along the way I have been president of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, the National Council of Writing Program Administrators, and the Indiana Teachers of Writing. I have served on the Indiana Higher Education Commission, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges' Senior College and University Commission, and the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation. For ten years I headed the American Association for Higher Education Assessment Forum and Teaching Initiative, working in the latter with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. My teaching, administrative, and organizational leadership experience prepared me to join the NCTE staff in 2005 to help inaugurate the DC office and now to move into a new role for our association.

During the months ahead, all of us in NCTE, members and staff, can work together to advance capacity building that contributes to students' development as literate individuals and citizens. A magnificent challenge and goal!

-- Barbara Cambridge


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NCTE - The National Council of Teachers Of English

A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts