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2014-2016 Cohort

Keisha McIntosh Allen

Keisha McIntosh Allen is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She received her doctorate from the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University. She situates her work at the intersection of socio-cultural theories of learning and identity, teacher preparation and practice, and culture-centered approaches to teaching and learning. Her dissertation examines culturally relevant pedagogy enacted with Black male students. In particular she is interested in how understandings of students’ identities inform teachers’ approaches to supporting Black males’ academic achievement, cultural identities, and critical consciousness. Additionally, she is interested in exploring how students experience this pedagogy and the academic identities they take up within these spaces.

She has published in Teachers College Record, International Journal of Multicultural Education, and two edited volumes. Prior to studying at Teachers College, Keisha taught A.P. English, 9th grade Honors English, and 9th grade general English.

Mentor: Keffrelyn Brown

Steven Alvarez

Steven Alvarez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies at the University of Kentucky. He earned his Ph.D. in English from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His ethnographic research examines how literacy and bilingual mentorship affect school involvement among Latin American immigrant families in New York City and Kentucky. Dr. Alvarez has a decade of experiencing teaching writing to students ranging from kindergarten through college in communities across the country and more recently in China and Mexico. He is currently serving as co-chair of the Latino Caucus of NCTE/CCCC.

Mentor: Lisa Patel

Donja Bridges

Donja Bridges is a doctoral student in the Adolescent, Post-secondary, and Community Literacies area of study in the Department of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University. Her primary research interests centers on investigating how multiracial high school students examine and take up critical discourses related to African American cultural and literary practices as they consider what it means to work for equitable educational practices inside and outside classrooms.

She is conducting a qualitative, participatory action research study that examines how a group of racially and ethnically diverse high school students understand topics related to community, culture, and identity as they study African American cultural practices and literary and historical texts. The site in which she is conducting her research is a high school course she created titled, African American Voice. In this course, students investigate, research, and critique major issues in African American literature, cultural perspectives, and socio-historical experiences as they learn about a variety of literacy practices relevant to African American, or Black, cultural practices across school and community contexts. The students are participants, co-investigators, and practitioners who collectively seek to develop a shared repertoire of resources by which to better understand African American cultural, literacy, and historical perspectives.   

Overall, this study seeks to develop a model for infusing black cultural studies into public school curricula while investigating the significance of critical literacy. It also seeks to inspire other teacher-researchers, educators, and students to employ culturally relevant and sustaining approaches that are rooted in African American cultural, literary, and intellectual practices as they, hopefully, challenge current understandings of achievement, belonging, and identity in the education of racially diverse students. 

Mentor: Bob Fecho

Cati de los Rios

Cati V. de los Ríos is a doctoral candidate in English Education in the Department of Arts & Humanities at Teachers College, Columbia University. Informed by her experiences as a former secondary ELD, Spanish and Ethnic Studies teacher, her primary research interests include studying Chican@/Latin@ emergent bilingual youth's literacy practices, their engagement with Mexican@ literary genres like border corridos, and their participation in Chican@/Latin@ Studies and Ethnic Studies high school courses. As an activist scholar she has been engaged in grassroots organizing and movements to advance Ethnic Studies in K-12 schools at a national level for the last ten years and has extensive experience as a researcher and consultant in Southern California school districts.

Mentor: Kris Gutierrez

Sakeena Everett

Sakeena Everett is the Director of Research and Outreach of the Black Male Early Literacy Impact Project in the College of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago.  Dr. Everett earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education at Michigan State University.  Driven by her experiences as a middle school English teacher in an urban school district, her research interests include: urban education, critical literacies, literacy development of Black male students, culturally sustaining pedagogies, qualitative research methodologies, and English teacher candidate preparation.  Dr. Everett utilizes critical ethnographic case study methods to investigate the literacy lives and schooling experiences of academically high performing young Black men from urban contexts.  As such, her research is concerned with how young Black men succeed academically and what we might be able to learn from these students to make (teacher) education better.  This work illuminates the voices of students whose perspectives are often void in research, yet are invaluable in preparing teachers (both pre-service and in-service) to work more effectively with this population in academic settings.

Mentor: Carol Lee      

Marilisa Jimenez Garcia

Marilisa Jimenez Garcia is a research associate at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at CUNY, specializing in ethnic and Latino/a children's literature, postcolonial studies, critical race studies, and critical literacy. She believes the divisions within the greater field of children's literature hinder the development of Latino/a children's literature, the advancement of collaborative research and scholarship, and the improvement of access to materials for teachers, and subsequently students. Each children's literature sub-field has particular interests and expertise, and rightly so; however, interdisciplinary collaboration could lead to the advancement of the field as a whole and, when exposed to such collaborations, teachers might gain a more holistic understanding of the socio-historical and socio-cultural aspects of the texts they introduce to students. Jimenez-Garcia's project examines how creating a dialogue among researchers, authors, teachers, and librarians might improve and promote the use and awareness of Latino/a children's literature among disparate groups. She also examines how the continuing education of teachers, outside graduate schools, might improve through professional development workshops that provide the latest research on content analysis and classroom application from different perspectives across the children's literature field. She combines literary-content analysis, critical pedagogy, curriculum development, ethnographic interviews, surveys, and roundtable discussions as a means of assessing the needs of different players in the field, creating a productive exchange, and providing practical classroom tools. Jimenez-Garcia's study takes place in the New York City area, specifically East Harlem.  

Mentor: Violet Harris

Roberta Price Gardner

Roberta Price Gardner is an assistant professor at the University of Mary Washington. She teaches courses in Early Childhood and Elementary Literacy Methods, and Children’s Literature and the Arts. She earned her Ph.D. in Language and Literacy Education from the University of Georgia. Dr. Gardner’s research explores relationships among children’s literature, critical literacy, and sociocultural contexts of children’s’ literacy practices, particularly the influences of race, place, class and gender. She is currently conducting an analysis of trauma narratives within children’s lives and in literature for children and how these narratives intersect with the discourses of toughness and resilience which are often fused to race and class realities. She is also developing communal networks and creative communities of practice that are child/family-centered, and emphasize diverse neighborhood contexts.

Mentor: Laura Apol

Lorena Gutierrez

Lorena Gutierrez is a PhD candidate in the Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education program at Michigan State University. Her research largely focuses on the language practices and identities of Latinos, and the complex and conflicting spaces between Spanish and English for Mexican American youth. In her dissertation, she examines the schooling experiences of migrant farmworkers and how they enlist their community cultural wealth and funds of knowledge to succeed in a GED program. She focuses her analysis on language as a window through which to view their lived experiences and identities as migrant farmworkers. She seeks to highlight the ways migrant students survive and thrive in their educational pursuits in spite of the inequities they faced in traditional schooling institutions. Her research interests are largely rooted in her own experiences in growing up bilingual in Southern California, in the heritage of farmwork that her abuelo has cultivated in El Agostadero, Jalisco, and in learning with migrant farmworkers in the Midwest. 

Mentor: Michelle Kells

Lamar Johnson

Lamar L. Johnson is a Language and Literacy Educator at Miami University in Oxford, OH.  He received his doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Curriculum Studies and Language and Literacy.  His research interests have developed over the past years through his experiences teaching secondary English in an urban high school, his classroom-based research working closely with students and parents, and finally his experience preparing teachers to work with culturally and linguistically diverse students. His research is interdisciplinary and often collaborative—making the case for closer ties between scholars in the fields of curriculum and instruction, language and literacy, secondary education, and teacher education. As an English teacher and a teacher educator, he has developed his research agenda with two related strands: 1) investigating the complex intersections of race, literacy, and education and 2) preparing teachers to successfully teach linguistically and culturally diverse students. Within both strands, his research examines practices of teaching and learning that build upon students’ cultural and linguistic diversity with a particular focus on language and literacy practices and curriculum studies.   

Mentor: Anthony Brown

Clifford Lee

Clifford Lee is an Assistant Professor in the Single Subject Teacher Education (SSTE) program at the Kalmanovitz School of Education at Saint Mary’s College of California. He earned his Ph.D. in Urban Schooling from the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Lee's scholarship focuses on the Multiliteracies of urban youth, particularly around the intersections of digital media production, critical literacy, and computational thinking practices. He also examines how race, culture, gender, and positionality impact the preparation of preservice teachers. He brings over 15 years of urban education experience as a coach, consultant, researcher, and founding English, Social Studies, and Media Arts teacher at Life Academy High School in East Oakland. Dr. Lee is also the Scholar-in-Residence at Youth Radio, a youth-based, award-winning media production company in Oakland. 

Mentor: Eva Lam

Reanae McNeal

Reanae McNeal is an activist-scholar committed to the promotion of linguistic diversity, community literacies, and cross-cultural exchanges. These interests brought me to the doctoral program in Women’s Studies at Texas Woman’s University where I have a concentration in English and Rhetoric. My dissertation focuses on African Native American women activists who have both African American and American Indian ancestry. I examine how we enact our rhetorics of survivance (described briefly as to survive and resist) through womanist and Indigenous feminist activism while deconstructing dominant discourses on race, slave patriarchy, colonialism, and gender. Using decolonization methods, I draw on both Indigenous and African American women’s research methods to underscore African Native American women’s cultures, epistemologies, and worldviews. I intend to reveal the important connections between rhetorics of survivance, activist-pedagogy, community literacies, and rhetorical sovereignty. The knowledges and counter-narratives produced from this study can invite consideration of other rhetorical histories and stories, languages, and literacies that offer valuable contributions to expanding the field of English Language Arts.

Mentor: Victor Villanueva

Sandra Osorio

Sandra L Osorio is an assistant professor at Illinois State University in the School of Teaching and Learning. She teaches Early Childhood Science Methods, Early Childhood Issues and Practices, and Introduction to Multicultural Education. She earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, under the direction of Dr. Anne Haas Dyson.  She is a former bilingual educator who worked with children from diverse, racial, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds for over 7 years.  Her own personal narrative growing up bilingual and having a deficient-based identity placed upon her because of her linguistic differences has served as source of motivation to become an educator and researcher. Dr. Osorio’s dissertation study, Yo tengo algo que decir: Promoting Critical Literacy among Emergent Bilinguals was an action research study of her own second grade bilingual students discussions around multicultural texts during the implementation of literature discussions. She found that through students’ own personal narratives they began to examine the familiar through new lenses. Dr. Osorio is currently examining how pre-service teachers’ cultural awareness is evolving through engagement in critical discussion of diversity issues as well as teaching in a diverse classrooms.

Mentor: Sonia Nieto

LaToya Sawyer

LaToya L. Sawyer is a Ph.D. candidate in Syracuse University's Composition and Cultural Rhetoric program. Sawyer's scholarship focuses on Black women's discourse and literacy practices across face-to-face and digital spaces as well as their pedagogical implications. Her dissertation research explores Black women's language and agency in computer-mediated communication in digital spaces. Sawyer holds a BA in English from Hartwick College and a MA in Online Media, Magazine and Newspaper Journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Over the last 15 years, she has taught in numerous community-based settings within the African American community and universities in the U.S. and China. Sawyer is a also a 2012 Conference of College Composition and Communication Scholar for the Dream award recipient. 

Mentor: Sonja Lanehart

Joanna Wong

Joanna Wong is an assistant professor in Teacher Education at California State University, Monterey Bay. She received her PhD in Education in Language, Literacy, and Culture at UC Davis. Her interest in issues around academic writing development for culturally and linguistically diverse students led her to pursue designated emphases in Second Language Acquisition and Writing, Rhetoric, and Composition Studies. Before joining the faculty of CSU, Monterey Bay, Joanna served as a lecturer for the Masters degree program in the School of Education at UC Davis and an elementary literacy specialist with the Oakland Unified School District.

Joanna’s research interests include elementary bilingual writing, multilingualism, language socialization, teacher education, and qualitative research methods. Her dissertation focused on Spanish-English bilingual elementary students’ writing experiences in school and examined the relationship between instructional practices, opportunities to write, and students’ understandings and practices around writing. As a literacy specialist, she supports literacy instruction in elementary schools and teachers’ professional development.

Mentor: Sarah Freedman


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