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2011 News Releases

Longwood’s Eighth Summer Literacy Institute draws 169 from around the state

July 25, 2011

students from EDSL/EDUC 595, a course offered in conjunction with the Institute, discussing the various authors' works
Students from EDSL/EDUC 595, a course offered in conjunction with the Institute, discussing the various authors' works

Some 169 educators from across the state recently attended Longwood University's eighth annual Summer Literacy Institute.

The keynote speaker for the Institute, held July 14-15, was award-winning children's author Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, who in addition to giving the keynote address also spoke at the banquet. There also was a panel discussion featuring five regional authors, and one other author was among the presenters. Other presenters included Longwood faculty members Dr. Pam Aerni, Dr. Peggy Agee, Dr. Ruth Meese, Dr. Lissa Power de-Fur, and Dr. Nancy Powers. This year's theme was "The Power of Literacy."

The Institute is offered by the Literacy & Culture and School Library Media programs, both of which are graduate programs in the College of Education and Human Services. The Institute co-directors are Dr. Audrey Church, associate professor and coordinator of the School Library Media Program, and Dr. Jeannine Perry, associate professor, coordinator of the Literacy & Culture Program and assistant dean for the College of Graduate and Professional Studies. The other members of the Institute planning committee are Dr. Gretchen Braun, associate professor in the Literacy & Culture Program, and Frances Reeve, associate professor in the School Library Media Program.

"In her morning session, Vaunda Micheaux Nelson focused on her picture book Who Will I Be, Lord? and talked of how she does research and gets ideas for her stories from family," Church said. "She mentioned a character in every family whose stories people tune out at family reunions and get-togethers, but, after that person's gone, they wish they could talk to him to get the details they missed. At the banquet, she talked about Bad News for Outlaws, her book about the first African-American U.S. marshal, which won the Coretta Scott King Book Award, and focused on how today's young people need positive role models."

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, an award-winning children's author, was the keynote speaker for the Summer Literacy Institute

Nelson, a youth services librarian in Rio Rancho, N.M., has served on the selection committees for the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, the two most prestigious prizes in children's literature. The former award honors the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children for that year, the latter the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for that year.

A panel discussion was presented by regional authors Giga Amateau, Kimberly Nelson, Lynne Farrell Stover and Francis Wood, all of Virginia, and Floyd Cooper of Pennsylvania. Another regional author, Alexandria LaFaye of Tennessee, wasn't on the panel but gave a presentation. All of the authors signed copies of their books.

"All of the authors mentioned how literacy is empowering," Church said. "All of them were passionate about books and literacy, and they spoke about their writing process and books they currently have in the works. Also, they all thanked the people who were there (educators) for what they do with K-12 students."

Each of the participants in the Institute attended two concurrent sessions Thursday and two more Friday, choosing from among 23 concurrent sessions. The sessions addressed such topics as "Making Books Talk Digitally," "Cool Web Tools for Literacy," "Powering up Book Promotion," and "The Power of Collaboration: How to Sell Rather than Tell!"

librarian Lin Hill, aka the Book Diva

Lin Hill, a middle school librarian also known as the "Book Diva," co-presented a concurrent session on "Powering Up Book Promotion"

"Participants included school librarians, reading specialists, classroom teachers, and some principals, who came from all across Virginia," Church said. "We have a lot of return attendees, and we also have a lot of Longwood alumni who attend. You can attend the Institute just for fun, or you can attend to earn recertification points, or you can attend in conjunction with a hybrid online course (EDUC 595/EDSL 595, The Power of Literacy, worth three graduate credits), team-taught by Jeannine Perry and myself. Some 35 students are taking that class, which is still going on."

This was the fourth year that the Institute, originally one day, has been two days. Participants receive breakfast and lunch both days and are given a CD with bibliographies from all the presentations.

The Institute opened with a welcome by President Patrick Finnegan; Dr. Ken Perkins, interim vice president for academic affairs; Dr. Deneese Jones, dean of the College of Education and Human Services; Kathy Charleston, acting dean for the College of Graduate and Professional Studies; and Dr. Peggy Tarpley, chair of the Department of Education and Special Education.