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2017 WLU Summer Institute

2017 Summer Institute Keynote Speakers


Thursday, July 20

Marissa MossMarissa Moss has written and illustrated over sixty books. Many of them are from her best known series, Amelia’s Notebook. When she wrote the first book twenty years ago, the format of a handwritten notebook with art on every page was so novel, editors didn’t know what to make of it. They worried librarians wouldn't know how to categorize it or booksellers where to shelve it. Now, of course, the notebook format is everywhere, most of all in the classroom.

Along with the Amelia books, Moss has written successful historical journals that are currently used in elementary and middle school curricula, and picture books biographies such as Jackie Mitchell, The Strike-Out Queen and Barbed Wire Baseball, which won the California Book Award. Her recent young adult book is about the Renaissance artist, Caravaggio, Caravaggio: Painter on the Run.

Marissa Moss will speak Thursday evening


Friday, July 21

Curtis AcostaCurtis Acosta was a high school teacher for nearly 20 years in Tucson, where he developed and taught Chican@/Latin@ Literature classes for the renowned Mexican American Studies program in the Tucson Unified School District. He is an award-winning educator who was named one of the “Top 10 Latinos to Watch in US Politics” by the Huffington Post. Acosta was featured in the documentary Precious Knowledge, and his teaching also received profiles on The Daily Show with John Stewart, CNN, PBS, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times among many other media outlets. He has had articles published in English Journal, Voices in Urban Education, Multicultural Perspectives and the books Educational Courage: Resisting the Ambush of Public Education and Rethinking Sexism, Gender and Sexuality.

Acosta is also the founder of the Acosta Latino Learning Partnership; an educational consultation firm committed to help educators create empowering, engaging, and humanizing pedagogical practices in their classrooms, schools, and communities throughout the United States.

Acosta received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, and later obtained a Master’s of Arts degree and Ph.D. in Language, Reading, and Culture from the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is currently an Assistant Professor in Language and Cultural in Education at the University of Arizona South.

Curtis Acosta will speak Friday morning


Jewell Parker RhodesJewell Parker Rhodes is the author of six adult novels and is also the author of the Louisiana Girls children’s book trilogy, which includes Ninth Ward, Sugar, and Bayou Magic. Her children’s books have received the Parents’ Choice Foundation Award, the Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award, and the Jane Addam’s Children’s Book Award, among others. Towers Falling, her newest middle grade novel, is on the Master List for the Texas Bluebonnet Award and was named one of the best young adult books of the year by Seventeen Magazine and the Nerdy Book Club. Her next middle grade book, Ghost Boys, will be published in spring of 2018.

Jewell grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Drama Criticism, a Master of Arts in English, and a Doctor of Arts in English (Creative Writing) from Carnegie Mellon University. Jewell is the Founding Artistic Director and Piper Endowed Chair at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. She is also a professor of Creative Writing and American Literature and the former Director of the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing.

Visit her website at

Jewell Parker Rhodes will speak at the Friday Luncheon


Saturday, July 22

Deborah Wells RoweDeborah Wells Rowe is a professor of early childhood education at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate literacy education courses. She began her career as a public school kindergarten teacher and later earned a Ph.D. at Indiana University-Bloomington. She has spent more than two decades studying how young children learn to write in preschool and primary grades classrooms.

She and co-author Sandra Wilson have developed the Write Start! Writing Assessment— a descriptive measure that can be used to track preschoolers’ writing progress. Recent studies have focused on  instructional supports for prekindergarten, emerging bilinguals who attend schools where most instruction is in English. Her research has explored ways of engaging children and families in reading and responding to multilingual picture books. Most recently, in the Prekindergarten eBook Project, she has explored how composing with iPads and digital cameras can provide emergent bilinguals and their families with opportunities to create multilingual texts that are culturally, linguistically, and personally relevant. 

Dr. Rowe is the author of a book, Preschoolers as Authors: Literacy Learning in the Social World of the Classroom, and numerous research articles. Her research on preschoolers’ writing has been recognized with the International Literacy Association’s Dina Feitelson Research Award. She is a co-editor of the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, serves on the board of directors for the Literacy Research Association, and is a member of the International Literacy Association’s Literacy Research Panel.

Deborah Rowe will speak Saturday morning


Saturday, July 22

Perry GilmorePerry Gilmore, Ph.D., a sociolinguist and educational anthropologist, is professor of Language, Reading and Culture (LRC), and Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) faculty at the University of Arizona. She is also professor emerita and affiliate faculty of the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She is the author of numerous ethnographic studies and co-editor of several major ethnography collections including, Children In and Out of School: Ethnography and Education, The Acquisition of Literacy: Ethnographic Perspectives, and Indigenous Epistemologies and Education: Self-Determination, Anthropology and Human Rights. Her most recent book, Kisisi (Our Language): The Story of Colin and Sadiki (Wiley 2016), documents the creative invention of a private Swahili pidgin language by two five year old friends in postcolonial Kenya. Gilmore is a past President of the Council on Anthropology and Education (CAE) and a recipient of the prestigious CAE George and Louis Spindler Award.

Perry Gilmore will speak at the Closing Session Saturday afternoon

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