Regional Speakers

Colleen Appel retired from her job as a middle school English teacher in 2012 to see what would happen next. She now works for the Ozarks Writing Project. She has been studying argument writing for four years and leads professional development sessions in schools in southwest Missouri. She also coordinates the middle school and high school youth writing conferences for OWP. In her spare time, she writes poetry, holds classes on the power of writing to heal, and tries to make her journals look like works of art.

Tracking down spies, investigating murders, and learning how toilets work—it’s all part of the job of a nonfiction writer. Stephanie Bearce is the author of 23 published books. Her newest series—Twisted True Tales From Science—was released in 2017. When Stephanie isn’t investigating weird and strange stories, she loves to visit schools and libraries and teach people that writing can be as exciting as detective work. Stephanie is represented by Jill Corcoran Literary Agency.

During his 40 plus year teaching career, Sam Bommarito taught virtually every grade from K through graduate school, including teaching reading courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Most of Sam’s career was spent as a Title 1 reading specialist/staff developer.  He participated in four years of extensive training by cadre with Lucy Calkin’s Reading and Writing workshop. Since his retirement in 2015, he has been busy with various volunteer projects, including a project in which he uses “cyber-conferencing” as part of reading/writing workshop. Sam is currently co-editor of the Missouri Reader, a professional reading journal published by the Missouri State Council of the International Literacy Association, celebrating its 40th year of publication.

Tracy Bouslog has presented at Southeast Missouri English Teachers Association fall conferences, Write to Learn conferences, and the Illinois Allerton English Articulation Conference.  Tracy has also facilitated standards alignment and PLC workshops for her department and for other core content departments.  A Shakespeare devotee, she earned a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for Shakespeare in Ashland: Teaching Shakespeare through Performance.  In her 25-year teaching career, Tracy feels blessed to have worked with many excellent staff and students at Herculaneum High School, Jackson High School, Lindbergh High School, Shawnee Community College, and Parkway South High School.  Currently, Tracy teaches senior English classes and serves as the literacy facilitator for Parkway South High School’s literacy across the curriculum initiative.

Kellsey Bradley is in her fifth year of teaching and is thrilled to be presenting at the Write to Learn Conference for the first time! She has taught both 5th and 6th grade in Branson, Missouri. In her district, she serves as the grade level representative, the math lead, as well as the building MSTA representative. Kellsey is an Ozarks Writing Project alum and enjoys presenting at their Youth Writing Conference yearly. In her spare time, she loves to read as well as perform in and attend as many theatrical productions as she can with her husband.

Wycla Bratton, a second-year teacher in Kansas City, believes every scholar is equipped with the abilities to succeed beyond measure. Mr. Bratton believes that the best investment you can make is in a child, and he has lived that belief out as he’s volunteered and worked with many organizations, camps, and programs targeting youth development. Some of these experiences include Kansas City Freedom Schools, Great Circle, and the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus Foundation Emerging Leaders Conference. Wycla received his Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education Language Arts from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is excited to be a part of the students’ growth, as he believes these scholars will be the game changers of generations to come.

All aspects of English language arts are Linda Brock’s passions, so even though this is her 32nd year of teaching, she still calls her classroom her happy place.  Besides sharing her love of reading, writing, and yes, even grammar, with teenagers, she serves as an instructional coach for the Blue Springs School District. One of her favorite tasks as an instructional coach is facilitating learning labs with her colleagues. She is also an active member of the Greater Kansas City Writing Project and an occasional adjunct for local colleges.  Outside of school, she has adventures with her daughters, her many siblings, and her friends in between reading, seeing movies, and cooking.

Leia Brooks has been teaching English at Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri for 18 years.  For the 2017-2018 school year, she teaches English 10—World Literature and World Studies—a history and English blocked class.  She has been active with the Missouri Writing Project since 2001, participating in five Institutes and co-teaching another one.  This is the 4th or 5th time she has presented at Write-to-Learn, and she is thrilled to be a part of such an invigorating, lively, and fun conference!

Chelsea Brown is a 7th grade English Language Arts teacher at Ozark Middle School.  She is a graduate of College of the Ozarks and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction at Lindenwood University.  Before becoming an educator, Chelsea worked for a non-profit in development and technology support.  She loves increasing student engagement with innovate and creative classroom activities!

Barri Bumgarner, the author of two thrillers and one YA book, is an Assistant Professor at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. The author of 8 Days, Slipping, and Dregs, Barri has also published seventeen short stories and hundreds of articles, both academic and teacher-education focused.  Barri published her first novel, 8 Days, a sci-fi thriller that was both the culmination of her love of writing and her interest in the future of technology, and it landed her on an FBI watch list. Since then, her teaching and writing have revolved around research, best teaching practices, and nonfiction projects. Barri teaches teachers how to teach, but has less success with her canine children. When she isn’t teaching or writing, she loves to travel, watch sports, and read, as well as creating and playing with all things digital. Visit her author page at:

Emily Callahan taught second through fourth grades in the North Kansas City School District for thirteen years.  She was a literacy demonstration teacher and welcomed visitors from inside and around the district to come into her classroom to get smarter with her and her kids. This year, Emily is in her second year as an instructional coach at a brand new Charter School, Crossroads Academy-Quality Hill, in downtown Kansas City.  She spends her time co-teaching, co-planning, demonstrating lessons, and learning with teachers and students.

Kassidy Chuning has been teaching at Truman High School in Independence, Missouri for four years. She has the pleasure of working with ninth and tenth-grade students in Honors English I and English II classes. She is also the JV basketball coach and assistant varsity volleyball coach. She hopes to continue to instill a passion for learning in her students, and also hopes to continue learning from those who already do.

Lindsey Clifton graduated from Stephens College with her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and continued to receive her Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. She has been teaching elementary students at The Children’s School at Stephens College for 10 years and acts as a College Student Supervisor. The Children’s School consists of a multiage kindergarten through fifth grade classroom where students are grouped by ability rather than age.  Art and science are integrated throughout the curriculum to help enhance and nurture student learning.

Stacey Conrad is a high school librarian at Palmyra High School, in northeast Missouri. One year into her first job as an English teacher, she realized that she was most passionate about reading and matching students with books they would actually finish.   Currently in her twelfth year as a librarian, her favorite thing to hear from students is, “This book was awesome! What else do you have for me?” Stacey is midway through her five-year commitment to the Gateway Readers Award executive committee, enjoying the opportunity to talk about books with other teachers and librarians around the state.  She posts a weekly book review at

During 20 plus years of teaching, Tracy Cooper has taught history, English, literacy intervention, ESL, and education courses for secondary and post-secondary students.  She currently serves as a Curriculum Instructional Coach of literacy for the Kansas City Kansas Public Schools.  She developed and guides the district’s secondary literacy intervention initiative, Targeted Literacy, a model intended to provide responsive literacy support for urban students through intentional emphasis on skills, motivation, and self-efficacy.  Tracy is also an education blogger supporting secondary literacy teachers.

Debra Crouch works nationally as an independent literacy consultant, collaborating with districts and schools in designing professional learning opportunities. Her work empowers teachers, principals, and coaches to envision instructional decisions that matter for children—decisions about processes for learning that unfold over time, across texts and among practices. Debra recently created a video series for K-1 Shared Reading and K-5 Guided Reading, demonstrating a series of lessons with students to consider instruction over time.

Vickie Daniels is an instructional coach in the Hollister School District.  She works primarily with elementary teachers, but also works with and conducts professional development training with middle school and high school teachers in the district.  Vickie is in her sixth year as an instructional coach and also works part-time as the Assistant Elementary Principal.  Her primary instructional coaching focus is English Language Arts for grades two through twelve.  She has presented at the Write to Learn conference for the last four years and has presented at several other conferences, including technology conferences.

Casey Daugherty is a veteran teacher of English and currently works as a Literacy Specialist with Republic R-III Schools. A Teacher Consultant with the National Writing Project, Casey has worked in numerous leadership roles with the Ozarks Writing Project since 2007. She is sought for her expertise in writing instruction, presenting work at national and international conferences. As a traveler, teacher, researcher, and volunteer, she has visited schools in Central and South America, Europe, and Asia. She studied educational practices in Japan through a Toyota International Teacher Award, and she recently returned from the United Kingdom, where she conducted research in the teaching of writing as a recipient of the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching.

Lara Dieckmann teaches English at Harrisburg High School. Her courses include dual credit Composition, Public Speaking, and American Literature, as well as Sophomore English. Lara also serves as the speech coach for the district, traveling with forensic competitors across mid-Missouri. Her background in performance is extensive. She worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor in Theatre at California State University at Los Angeles and earned theatre and film credits as a performer in Chicago. She is passionate about books, art, music, writing and her Golden Retriever, Miss Tillie.

Melissa Duckett has taught in Mid-Missouri for 15 years.  She was a part of the University of Missouri-Columbia Fellows program and has participated in the Missouri Writing Project.  She currently teaches at Blair Oaks Middle School and teaches both 5th grade writing and 7th grade reading classes.  Melissa is a Google for Education Certified Trainer and participates in trainings for her district and beyond to help schools implement Google in the classroom.  Her primary work focuses on helping students excel in writing through the use of writing structures, modeling, and tech-infused writing conferences.

Emily Durham is an ELA Instructor at St. James R-I School District. She is passionate about her students’ education. She helps them think deeper, work to achieve their own unique writing styles, and think beyond the classroom walls to read in between the lines. In addition to teaching, Emily is also the assistant Speech and Debate coach, MSTA delegate, BETA sponsor, and Professional Development chair for the high school. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southeast Missouri State University. Recently, Emily was employed as an adjunct instructor for a local community college teaching Composition I and Public Speaking.

Nicole Eberenz is in her sixth year of teaching 6th grade English/Language Arts and Social Studies at a public school in Saint Louis, MO. She loves teaching in the same district that she graduated from because she believes she has the responsibility to reinvest in her own community.  In her spare time, Nicole co-sponsors an after-school student leadership program focusing on social justice.

Tami Ensor has been involved in education all her life.  From playing teacher in 2nd grade until becoming a college professor, she’s truly a lifelong learner.  Tami has taught in grades 1-5, and has worked in a preschool building.  She has been an administrator, a media specialist, and a college professor.  Her passion is for teaching, technology integration, and learning.  She looks forward to sharing and learning at the Write to Learn Conference. 

Emily Evans is an 8th grade English Language Arts teacher at Frontier Middle School in the Wentzville School District.  She is the building’s ELA department chair and is an active member of Frontier’s Professional Development Committee.  Emily has taught for 12 years at the middle and high school levels.  She is an avid reader and library patron.  Emily loves to share and book talk her new books with her ELA classes each week.

Missy Henke is the librarian at Frontier Middle School in the Wentzville School District.  Prior to becoming a librarian, she was a special education and reading teacher.  All 21 years of Missy’s teaching career have been at the middle school level.  She loves seeing students discover new genres and books to read.  Missy is also passionate about all educators being good reading role models for students and working with teachers on strategies for their classroom instruction.

Ethan Evans is a librarian at Lathrop High School. Before joining the library world, he taught high school communication arts for three years. He loves prose and poetry (naturally). In his free time, he particularly likes to read anything by Matt de la Peña, Ted Kooser, Rainbow Rowell, Jandy Nelson, or Tania Runyan. He is interested in helping teachers build mutually beneficial relationships with their librarians and looks forward to the evolution of the position.

Terri Fisher-Reed is an English Language Arts teacher for Parkway C2 Schools in St. Louis. This is her eighth year with the district, teaching English 2, Honors English 2, and College Composition at Parkway South High in Manchester. She also serves as an adjunct instructor for St. Louis University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She is originally from Southeast Missouri, where she attended Notre Dame Regional High School and Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. She has been an educator for 25 years, with teaching experiences in middle and high schools and administrative duties at all levels.  Most importantly, Terri has worked passionately her whole career to share with others language and Shakespeare, gifts given to her by her mom and her high school English teacher, Cindy King.

Declan FitzPatrick serves as the Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Fox C6 School District in Arnold, Missouri. Declan has been working with teachers around levels of students’ response writing and developing authentic ways for students to capture and complicate their thinking for 23 years. He has published two articles: “Constructing Complexity” (English Journal, Nov. 2008) and “Reading Level Response” in Reflective Teaching, Reflective Learning (Heinemann 2005).

Chelsie Floyd is a 7th grade English Language Arts teacher and Robotics Coach at Ozark Middle School.  She is a graduate of Arkansas State University and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction at Lindenwood University.  Chelsie has been an educator for five years in many different subject areas. Her passion is to create lifelong learners by developing critical thinking and engagement through ingenious ways of learning.


Josh Franklin is a father of three wonderful little girls, lucky to have such a strong wife, and a lover of language. He is currently a senior at the University of Missouri-Columbia and student teaching at a local Columbia, Missouri high school. Being thirty, a father of three, a former cook and janitor, and a terrible student when he was in high school, his view of education is a bit different than that of many of his peers. He reads all the trashy science fiction he can get his hands on with no shame and writes bad Ray Bradbury knockoff short stories.

Keri Franklin is a Professor in the English Department at Missouri State University. As the founding director of the Ozarks Writing Project, a local affiliate of the National Writing Project, she has worked with hundreds of teachers and thousands of students. The principle of “everyone can write” drives her work with young writers. Keri’s research has focused on the impact of writing professional development on teacher and student learning. Through her work, she has received over $2,000,000 in grants and contracts in partnerships with universities in Missouri and across the country. She frequently conducts professional development related to writing, teaching, and learning. As the director of assessment at Missouri State, she works with faculty from all disciplines to assess student learning—specifically in the areas of leadership, cultural competence, and community engagement—through collaborative assessment of student writing.

Melanie Fuemmeler is a K-5 instructional coach in the Kansas City area.  She is also deeply involved in her local Writing Project site, providing an array of professional development to local districts and bringing to reality her passion project, a city-wide social justice curriculum for our youngest citizens.  #KCKidsUnite aims to build a foundation of activism and unity amongst the city’s diverse communities and cultures.  In her free time, she runs and reads endlessly with her 3-year and 18-month old.  She is a firm believer in the power of personal stories to connect humanity and the need for voices to be heard, not silenced.  You can hear hers on her blog at and find her on Twitter @mfuemm.

Bryan Gaskill is currently a teacher at Marshall High School in Marshall, Missouri.  He has taught high school English for the past 10 years.  He graduated from Missouri Valley College with a BA in English and the University of Central Missouri with a MA in English.  He enjoys working with all learners and has helped develop a successful service learning program that engages students within the community.  He is a Missouri Writing Project consultant and an MCTE and NCTE member.  He is the father of two awesome kids and is married to the most amazing librarian in the world.

Alex George is the author of the national and international bestseller, A Good American, and, most recently, of Setting Free the Kites, which also hit the bestseller lists. Both novels were chosen as Indie Next picks by America’s independent booksellers. A native of England, he has lived in the Midwest for the last fourteen years. In addition to writing books, he is an attorney, and is also the founder and director of the Unbound Book Festival.

Laura Gholson is in her fifth year of teaching 7th and 8th grade English at Harrisburg Middle School.  In addition to her English courses, Laura teaches drama and reading electives.  She sponsors the middle school’s student council, directs the middle school spring play, and is an active member of the school’s PLC leadership team.  Laura is currently a graduate student working towards her master’s degree in teaching at Columbia College.  In her free time, she loves reading young adult books, rooting for Sporting Kansas City soccer, and keeping up-to-date on the latest hit television series.

Liz Gibbs has been teaching for 23 years. Her passion for literacy education has driven her career for the last two decades. She currently teaches 6-8 ELA in Winnetka, Il, is a part time reading instructor for City Colleges of Chicago, and is seeking her Doctorate of Education in Literacy with Judson University.

Leslie Goodwin has been teaching 6th to 8th grade ELA and Special Education in the Kansas City metropolitan area for 11 years. She was a mentor for the Kansas City Teacher Residency program and has recently worked with Cris Tovani and Penny Kittle to improve her teaching practices.  She has a Bachelor of Science in Middle Level Education and Masters of Education in Instructional Design.  Outside of the classroom she enjoys spending time with her husband and two young daughters, reading, and traveling.