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2017 WLU Summer Institute

2017 Summer Institute Keynote Speakers - Previous Revision

Thursday Opening Session

H. Gerald Campano

Isoke Titilayo Nia has been an educator for over twenty-five years mostly spent in New York City’s schools. The first several years were spent in independent schools for children of African descent where she taught grades three through eleven. She began her quest for process teaching and learning as a teacher and staff developer in District 17 in Brooklyn before becoming Director of Research and Development at The Reading/Writing Project, Teachers College, Columbia University.

In September of 2001, Isoke founded All Write Literacy Consultants in Brooklyn, New York.  She now travels throughout the world learning, and sharing that learning with others who teach literacy instruction. She is known for her dynamic keynote speeches and engaging workshops where she presents on poetry, reading and the African American child, and literature in the writing workshop. She is also a writer of short stories. 

Join Gerald on Thursday evening, July 18 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. 


Friday, Opening Session

Chris Soentpiet

Chris Soentpiet creates children's books for all ages. He writes and illustrates his own stories as well as illustrates books by other authors. He studied Fine Arts and Education at Pratt Institute in New York City where he met two very special friends who encouraged him to pursue his passion for painting by illustrating children's books. Around Town was his first children's picture book.

Chris creates books that reflect an interest in people, history, and culture. Since teachers around the world use his books in their classrooms, Chris takes the time to do a lot of research, especially if it's a historical story, spending weeks in the library, and going to the actual location where the story's events happened to sketch and take pictures. A book can take a year or more to complete.

Chris was born in South Korea and moved with his sister to Hawaii at the age of 8 after being adopted by the Soentpiet family.

Chris' work has been featured or reviewed in the New York Times, USA Today, Houston Chronicle, and Newsweek.   

Join Chris on Friday morning, July 19 from 8:30-9:45 a.m.


Saturday Opening Session

Nikki Grimes

Nikki Grimes does not consider herself a bona fide storyteller, but, as she told an audience at the Library of Congress, she is happy to own the title Poet.  Born and raised in New York City, Nikki began composing verse at the age of six and has been writing ever since.

An accomplished and widely anthologized poet of both children's and adult verse, Nikki is the recipient of the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children

A New York Times bestselling author and a prolific artist, she has written many award-winning books for children and young adults. Her distinguished works include ALA Notable book What is Goodbye?, Coretta Scott King Award winner Bronx Masquerade, the novels Jazmin's Notebook, Dark Sons, and The Road to Paris (Coretta Scott King Author Honor Books). Creator of the popular Meet Danitra Brown, Nikki lives in Corona, California.

Visit Nikki's website at

Join Nikki on Saturday morning, July 21 from 8:30-9:45 a.m.


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