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.

Dustin Bacon is an undergraduate student in his final year at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He studied under Dr. Sandy Sanders in the English education program. His studies in the field emphasize metacognitive reflection and teacher-student relationships. His postgraduate plans include a term with the Peace Corps and a Masters in Fine Arts.

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.

Chris Blanke has been teaching middle school for 25 years and holds a special education and Master’s degree in reading, along with a reading specialist certification. A mother of two tween girls, she is passionate about getting middle schoolers to love reading! In her free time, she loves being with her family, traveling to Colorado, and of course, reading!

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.

Josie Clark is in her eighth year of teaching Reading and Writing Workshop to eighth graders in St. Joseph, Missouri.  In addition to being a classroom teacher, she is a co-director of Prairie Lands Writing Project (PLWP) at Missouri Western State University. Through PLWP, she organizes an annual middle school reading during the school year and directs a creative writing day camp for middle schoolers every summer. She also sponsors her school’s creative writing club and student council. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English Education and a master’s in Writing Studies. In her spare time, she loves to surround herself with stories–on paper, on film, and on the stage.

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.

Rachel Evans is a 5th grade teacher at Tiffany Ridge Elementary. She graduated from Missouri Western State University with her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and Master’s in Gifted Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She began teaching at Park Hill in 2009.  She is passionate about fostering independence and voice in her students.  She is also passionate about a city-wide social justice project, #KCKidsUnite, which aims to build a foundation of activism and unity amongst the city’s diverse communities and cultures.

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.


Colin Flynn teaches AP Literature and Composition, English 3, and College Credit Composition at Washington High School in Washington, Missouri. As an avid reader, Colin advocates for independent choice reading. Students in his class spend one-fifth of their weekly class time reading what they want, regardless of level or genre. In spring 2016, he was awarded a Book Love Grant from Penny Kittle’s Book Love Foundation. In order to help students prepare for the world after high school, Colin also utilizes a PBL model in his classroom, helping students to discover their passions and solve real world problems. Outside of the classroom, Mr. Flynn coaches boys basketball and enjoys travelling the world with his family. This year marks the second time Colin has presented at Write to Learn.

LuAnn Fox teaches juniors in high school how to read and write better and think more critically at Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe, Kansas.  She has addressed and worked with secondary teachers at the local, regional, and national levels.  She is a member of NCTE and the Greater Kansas City Writing Project (GKCWP), as well as the Kansas Association of Teachers of English (KATE).  She has conducted professional development for secondary teachers in Garden City, Topeka, and Kanas City in Kansas and in Raytown in Missouri.  An executive KATE board member, she reviews articles for KATE publication. She is heavily involved with KC Storytellers, a metro area collective of students who learn to tell stories to audiences.  She consults for The College Board, and in her spare time she thinks of educational articles to write while walking her dog. 

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.

Rebecca Greenstreet earned her degree in Elementary Education from Park University in 1999 and her Masters of Arts in Teaching from Webster University in 2007. After 12 years at the elementary and middle school levels, she started to think that she might actually be a high school teacher after all and sought her high school English certification. She moved to the high school level in 2012. Her education to become an elementary teacher and the experience she gained with young learners was essential in her preparation to be an effective high school teacher. Presently, she teaches English I and AP Language and Composition at Truman High School in Independence, Missouri.

Rebecca Groves has taught for 26 years, 18 of which have been with her favorite age—middle school! Rebecca currently teaches sixth grade literacy at Wydown Middle School in Saint Louis, Missouri. She enjoys igniting the fire of learning in her students and is a sucker for a good memoir. Out of school she enjoys hiking in the woods, spending time with her family, and traveling overseas to work with children in South Sudan.

Lynn Hagen works at Battle High School in Columbia, Missouri.  Lynn is a Reading Specialist and a Literacy teacher.  She spent the first fifteen years of her career in middle school, and has been in high school the last five years. She is a passionate advocate for student voice in reading and writing. You can follow her at

Rachel Hamby has been teaching high school English for eight years. Currently, she is teaching 11th and 12th grade English at Mountain Grove High School. A quote at the front of her classroom reads: “You matter. Education matters. What we do in this classroom matters.” And that is precisely how Rachel approaches her work. She is continually looking for ways to encourage students, increase rigor, and create excitement for content.

Zachary Hamby has been a high school English teacher for twelve years. During this time, he has discovered the power of Reader’s Theater script-stories and other interactive learning strategies in the secondary classroom. He strives to be a creative educator and an inspirational mentor for his students. He is the creator of the website and currently teaches at Ava High School.

Dr. Julie Hentges, Associate Professor of Education, is the Program Coordinator for the MSE Elementary Education/Curriculum & Instruction Degree Program at the University of Central Missouri. Julie is a certified teacher and a certified K-12 reading specialist in Missouri. Most recently, she was honored as the University of Central Missouri’s Learning to a Greater Degree Award recipient and the Regional Counselor/Advisor of the Year Award Recipient for Kappa Delta Pi International Education Honor Society. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Education as well as an earned Doctorate with an emphasis in teacher education.

Candy Holloway is a dedicated teacher of reading and writing who has served as a classroom teacher leader and now Secondary ELA Curriculum Coordinator.  With 27 years of experience, her goal of promoting literature appreciation and love of writing in students is evident in her work as a literacy trainer and promotion of teacher collaboration across school districts in St. Charles County.  She has learned from and trained colleagues both locally and nationally, through various professional development and reading and writing workshops.  In addition, Candy has been involved with the Gateway Writing Project and the Missouri Reading Initiative as a participant and model teacher and continues to be a life-long learner as an active member of MoCTE, NCTE, and LARC.

Dana Humphrey has 37 years of educational experience as a middle school English teacher, department chair, district curriculum coordinator and professional development presenter. She currently serves as the ELA Consultant for Education Plus.  Dana has presented numerous workshops at the local, state, and national levels and has written and co-authored articles and chapters in books on effective instructional pedagogy.

Lisa Inniss has a love of learning and helping her students be the best versions of themselves. Teaching just over twenty years, she started with ninth grade English and then moved to reading for eighth and ninth graders. Lisa has been teaching eighth grade English at West Middle School in Columbia, Missouri for 7 years. Currently, Lisa is the Membership Chair for the Missouri Council of Teachers of English. When she is not teaching, Lisa enjoys spending time with friends and family, playing board and card games, reading YA, and writing.

Dawnavyn James graduated from Stephens College with her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree. She is currently pursuing a Master of Education in Student Learning and Well Being. She has been teaching elementary students at Stephens College for three 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.

Danielle Johnson recently earned her doctorate in literacy education at the University of Missouri with a dissertation examining the intended and unintended consequences of reading intervention testing and programming.  She is currently a middle school reading specialist and Language Arts Department Chair at Oakland Middle School in Columbia Public Schools, where she teaches 6th-8th grade reading intervention and 8th grade Communication Arts.  Her position allows her to offer building-wide content area literacy PD.  Danielle also teaches a variety of classes at MU in the College of Education, including methods courses and classes on adolescent learners.

Jason Johnson is a 2003 alumnus and current English Language Arts Department Chair and After-School Program Director of Arcadia Valley. Jason earned an Associate’s degree from Mineral Area College and later earned his Bachelor’s from Central Methodist University. Then, in 2012, he earned a Master’s degree from William Woods University. Since then, Jason has dedicated his time to being an effective leader and educator, serving on scholarship boards, participating in DESE-sanctioned activities such as EOC item writing and review, and organizing professional development activities. In his free time, Jason enjoys binge-watching TV shows and screenwriting. Recently, he submitted to Fresh Voices Screenwriting Competition, receiving a nomination for Best Ensemble Cast.

Nicole Johnson is starting her second year in second grade with Crossroads Charter Schools.  Nicole believes that every child has the right to a free, quality education and has a passion for working with children. Prior to Crossroads Charter Schools, Nicole spent the last eight years working for two large corporations where she learned the importance of collaboration, the ability to foster relationships, and the power of communication. Nicole values the experiences and skills gained during that time, but felt a greater calling, which ultimately led to a career in education.

William Kerns is an assistant professor in the College of Education at Harris-Stowe State University. William worked as a reading teacher, reading specialist, English teacher, and a curriculum specialist prior to entering higher education. His university teaching specialties are in the areas of secondary English language arts and education, literacy and reading, as well as educational philosophy and multicultural education. He is passionate about the promotion of active engagement in writing workshops that draw on a Vygotskian approach to the understanding of how students learn and improve their skills.

Tracy Kerth is a Title One Math Coach at the elementary level in the Blue Valley School District.  She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas.  She has taught grades 1-4 in many school districts over thirty-three years.  When she’s not coaching, she enjoys tutoring students after hours—it’s her way of staying connected with kids and getting her “kid fix.”  Math is her thing, but one of her other “biggie  passions”  is promoting Growth Mindset in her two buildings.  Why?  Because when an individual’s mindset focuses on effort, perseverance, the power of “yet,” and the mindset that anything is possible, kids will learn!  She has been happily married for twenty-seven years to her husband, Chris, and is blessed with two sons—Tyler and Connor.

Beth Knoedelseder is currently a trainer for Bureau of Education & Research and a learning consultant at St. Cecilia School & Academy in St. Louis, Missouri. Beth has been in education for over 30 years as a classroom teacher, an adjunct instructor for Maryville University and University of Missouri-St. Louis, and an education consultant for Silver Strong & Associates: The Thoughtful Classroom.  She has a Master’s in Environmental Education and has presented at a number of educational conferences, including the  Missouri Environmental Education Association conference and the Missouri Education and Technology conference.

Katie Kraushaar teaches 7th grade ELA at Hixson Middle School in the Webster Groves School District. She is a teacher consultant with the Gateway Writing Project, a National Writing Project satellite. Look for her forthcoming article on her identity as a teacher of writing in the winter 2017 issue of the NCTE journal, Voices From the Middle. Connect with Katie on Twitter (@mskraushaar) or via her blog (

Beginning as a PE teacher and ending as a Curriculum Director, Debbie Lacey-Anderson has experienced education from many angles!  Her years as a primary classroom teacher were the best and most challenging.  Professional learning is a passion for Debbie now, as she works with the Collaborative Classroom as a facilitator, helping teachers become reflective and effective educators.

Amy Lannin directs the Campus Writing Program at the University of Missouri-Columbia.  In addition, she is an Assistant Professor of English Education in the College of Education.  Amy has taught courses on the teaching of writing, literature, and media.  She has also taught graduate seminars and advises doctoral students.  Amy’s research includes writing instruction, assessment, and professional development.  For several years, she has been involved with the National Writing Project, currently serving as Director for the Missouri Writing Project and the state network of five NWP sites: the Missouri Writing Projects Network.   Amy has been involved with fellow ELA leaders in the Missouri Council of Teachers of English and currently serves as President.

Shawn LaSota has been teaching English to high school students for almost 8 years and has only a few times regretted his life decisions. He currently teaches juniors at Fort Scott High School where he tries his best to create new and exciting things to entertain his students in order to stave off boredom in both himself and his classroom. Shawn has also coached the soccer team at FSHS, but that was a dark time in his life that should not be discussed. Since becoming an English teacher, he has enjoyed getting to know his students, sharing his love and passion for reading and writing, creating new ways to learn, and taking long walks on the beach to question his existence.

Liz Majino has worked with middle school students and elementary and middle school teachers for the past eighteen years. Liz served as the K-8 English Language Arts Curriculum Coordinator for her district for three years. In the fall of 2013, Liz elected to return to the classroom and currently loves teaching eighth grade ELA at Hixson Middle School in the Webster Groves School District. Liz is a National Board Certified teacher and also a consultant with the Gateway Writing Project, a National Writing Project satellite.

Susan Martens is an Assistant Professor of English at Missouri Western State University and Director of the Prairie Lands Writing Project in Saint Joseph, Missouri.  Her work has appeared in English JournalCollege Composition and CommunicationLouisiana LiteratureAssay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, and in the collection Writing Suburban Citizenship: Place-Conscious Education and the Conundrum of Suburbia from Syracuse University Press.  She has been facilitating and studying writing marathons since 2006 as part of her ongoing research into place-conscious education and place-based writing. Most recently, she has enjoyed serving as an invited retreat leader at the New Orleans Writing Marathon Retreat, hosted by the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project, for the last four years.

Betsy McQueen, literacy coach at Buchanan Intermediate School in Branson, Missouri, is delighted to present at Write to Learn for the third time. Betsy, in her 28th year of education, loves working with new as well as veteran teachers in the areas of reading and writing. Additionally, she works with the Ozarks Writing Project to provide professional development through the Center for Writing in College, Career, and Community at Missouri State University. In addition to Write to Learn, Betsy is a regular presenter at the Writing and Thinking Conference at MSU, the regional MARRE Conference, as well as the Missouri Writing Project Network 2014 Fall Conference. She, along with husband Jeff, loves to travel and enjoys taking their rescued, moderately crazy, lab-mix, Toby, along with them!

After earning both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in English, Morgan Menefee went on to earn her Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with an Emphasis in Literacy. Since then, she has been dedicated to bringing innovation to the English curriculum in rural schools. Morgan currently teaches English to students in grades 8-12 at Crest School in southeast Kansas. Her teaching interests focus primarily on writing and poetry. Her research interests include the experiences and specific needs of rural agrarian students, particularly as they transition from high school to college.

Mike Metz is an Assistant Professor of English Education at the University of Missouri-Columbia.  Prior to joining Mizzou, Mike worked with the Center to Support Excellence in Teaching (CSET) at Stanford University, the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP), and the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program (UTEP).  A National Board Certified Teacher in Early Adolescent Language Arts, Mike has taught pre-K through Master’s students, in public, private, and charter schools over the past 20+ years.  For the majority of Mike’s teaching career, he taught middle and high school on the South Side of Chicago.  Mike has worked with the Chicago Public Schools, The University of Chicago Charter Schools, San Francisco Unified School District, and the Palo Alto Unified School District, among others, to help teachers develop their professional expertise.  Mike’s research examines teaching practices that support students in culturally and linguistically complex classrooms.  He is particularly interested in decentering Standardized English in Language Arts classrooms to create spaces that explore the beauty of all forms of language employed by the sophisticated language users that make up our pluralistic society.

An administrator and educator for the last 34 years, Judy Mohan has made the seventh grade curriculum one of her specialties.  Most recently, she has engaged in NEH Fellowships ranging from the study of Dante’s Inferno to blues music and civil rights literature.  Most recently, she has completed online studies on Flannery O’Connor, Thomas Merton, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  Always an enthusiast of epic literature, she is pleased to combine that interest with the emerging genre of the graphic novel.

Diane Mora teaches sheltered communication arts classes at East High School in Kansas City Public Schools, focusing on developing English writing and English literacy skills of students who come from all over the world.  From 2012-2016 she served as an ELL Instructional Specialist and Senior Program Coordinator at the Kansas City RPDC.  A National Writing Project Teacher Consultant, her love for developing writing skills is born from a desire to help students find their voice in a new language. Her style as a learner, teacher, and facilitator is hands on, inquiry based, and self-reflective.

Lindsey Mueller graduated from Columbia College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.  She went on to obtain her Master’s Degree in Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum from the University of Missouri-Columbia.  Lindsey has been teaching for 10 years.  During this time, she has taught Reading Recovery, second grade, third grade, and served as a literacy coach.  Having grown up a reluctant reader and writer, Lindsey is passionate about engaging students in their learning and fostering a love of literacy early. When she is not teaching, you can find her buried in a pile of books and playing with her two children.

Glenda Nugent has been recognized locally, statewide, and nationally for her innovative teaching and dedication to literacy education. In addition to being an award-winning classroom teacher, she has served as a literacy specialist, literacy coach, and administrator of literacy and early childhood programs at the state and district levels.  In these roles and as a national literacy consultant, she has provided support for many schools and teachers, leading them in effective standards-based literacy practices.  She has led district and state-wide literacy reforms that have resulted in significant achievement gains by focusing on standards, comprehensive literacy instruction, early literacy, differentiation, and intervention.  As a literacy consultant, she has provided extensive professional development for teachers and administrators in effective literacy practices throughout the United States and in Canada and Puerto Rico. She has served as a literacy volunteer with schools in South Africa and Pakistan. She is currently the International Literacy Association (ILA) Coordinator for the Missouri State Council of the ILA.

Melinda Odom is a fifth grade teacher for Hollister Elementary. In this role, she teaches all areas of curriculum. Prior to teaching fifth grade, she taught Kindergarten.  Melinda believes in helping students change their mindsets and developing their potential.  She holds an Early Childhood and Elementary Education degree from Southwest Baptist University and is currently earning her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education.  She has been married for twenty-three years and has three teenage children.  She and her husband are also licensed foster parents.

Katherine (Katie) O’Daniels is an Assistant Teaching Professor at University of Missouri-St. Louis where she teaches literacy methods courses and co-directs the Gateway Writing Project. She holds Missouri teaching certificates in special reading (K-12), elementary (1-6) and Spanish (K-9), as well as a graduate certificate in the teaching of writing. Prior to her faculty appointment at UMSL, she taught 4th grade in a public school and worked as a Literacy Specialist at a community college. Katie’s research interests reflect her commitment to teacher professionalism and critical literacy education.

Leigh Anne Patrick has been in education for 10 years with Springfield Public Schools.  Currently, she is in her fourth year as Literacy Coach at Westport Elementary.  Prior to working as a literacy coach, she served as a Reading Interventionist/Reading Recovery teacher at Bowerman Elementary.  She earned a Master’s degree in Reading in 2008 and a Master’s in Administration in 2013 from Missouri State University.  In addition to her literacy coaching responsibilities, she serves as the Parent Involvement Coordinator and the Site Testing Coordinator for her building.

Ann Powell-Brown taught students and supervised teachers in public schools for many years before she joined the faculty at the University of Central Missouri.  Ann is currently a Professor of Literacy Education at UCM, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses and is heavily involved in research and writing in the fields of literacy education and cultural diversity. Ann has earned Missouri state certifications in elementary education, reading, gifted education and special education. Her Ph.D. is in Reading Education, with a minor in Cultural Anthropology/Ethnic Studies. “Dr. P-B” (as her students call her) loves her work, her students, and the company of dynamic and interesting colleagues.  She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband, Dick Brown, and a feisty family dog who thinks the humans in his family are his pets.

Woods Prael has an MSE in Secondary Literacy from the University of Central Missouri, has taught English Language Arts for 18 years, is an instructional coach at Warrensburg High School, and provides struggling freshmen with reading assistance.  Working for the Missouri STARR program (Select Teachers As a Regional Resource) and the Missouri Staff Development Council, Woods has presented at numerous middle schools, high schools, universities, and to anyone willing to listen.  With an academic focus on struggling teen readers, behavior issues, and classroom engagement, his passion stems from being the product of San Francisco’s McAteer High School, which the city deemed too dangerous and unsalvageable to stay open.

Tamara Rhomberg has been in education for more than 30 years, working as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, district administrator, Title I Director, and adjunct professor.  In 2012, she received the Missouri State IRA Council Literacy Award.  She is an active member of local, state, and national literacy organizations and has presented locally and nationally on a variety of literacy topics.

Katie Ritter has been a first grade teacher for 12 years in the Warrensburg School District and an adjunct for the University of Central Missouri.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education from the University of Central Missouri, a Master’s degree in Literacy Education from the University of Central Missouri, and an Education Specialist degree in Reading from the University of Missouri-Columbia.  Katie combines her love of reading and positive reinforcement by working with students individually to develop a love of reading, so that no matter where they are in their reading journey, they leave first grade feeling like “a reader.”  Katie resides in Shawnee Mound with her husband and two children.  She enjoys living on the family farm where she can share her animal’s shenanigans with her students, in particular her pet goats who grew up in her family’s kitchen!

Justine Rogers is a 22-year veteran of public education. She attended the University of Northern Iowa and William Woods University. She specializes in teaching composition, as well as gifted education. She has taught students from ages 3 to 93. She is currently the gifted instructor for Southern Boone schools in Ashland, Missouri, and is also an adjunct instructor of English for the Columbia College Online Campus.

Classically trained as a cellist and composer, Sandy Sanders was also a professional drummer with acts as disparate as Blood, Sweat & Tears and The Lawrence Welk Show. At age 45—and in deference to looming bachelorhood—Sanders began a serendipitous ten-year career as a high school English teacher. Having since completed a Ph.D. in English Education at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Sandy today teaches courses in writing, literature, and pedagogy at Ozarks Technical Community College and the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Tiffany Seaman is a proud graduate of the University of Kansas who holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, Master of Science in Education with an Emphasis in Reading, and Reading Specialist Licensure. She has experience as an early intervention teacher, special education teacher (K-6), first and fourth grade classroom teacher, and is currently a Reading Specialist (K-5) for the Blue Valley School District in Overland Park, Kansas. She has presented at the district level, and believes that it is of great importance for educators to be lifelong learners, as well as to build positive climates for, and relationships with, all students. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her three young children.  She is very excited to explore the importance of growth mindset with you.

Courtenay Slinkard has taught English for twelve years in Missouri and Kansas.  This school year, she began a new adventure as the Instructional Coach at Ft. Scott High School.  Courtenay is known by her colleagues as an “education nerd” because of her zeal for learning and sharing all things pedagogical.  In truth, Courtenay is an all-round nerd who enjoys learning merely for the sake of winning Trivial Pursuit matches.  Clad in jeans, a cardigan and hiking boots, she can often be found in the woods behind her home, romping with her children or napping beneath the trees.  Courtenay fancies herself a guitar player, but she can only strum a few chords in awkward time.  Her true love is writing, which is what brings her to WTL.

Brenda Steffens serves on the MSTA Reading Circle, where she reviews books for their publication.  She retired last year from 35 years as the school librarian at Morgan County R-I School District in Stover.  During her time at Stover, she served students in grades PK-12.  Reading and finding the right book for the right student at the right time has always been her goal.

Lysha Thompson is the Library Media Specialist at Miller County R-3 Schools in Tuscumbia, Missouri. Lysha received her Bachelor of Science degree from Williams Wood University and a MLIS from the University of Central Missouri. As a member of the MSTA Reading Circle, she reads over 100 books each year in search of the best young adult books to share with Missouri teachers.

Blake Thorne’s eighth grade students sometimes use adjectives like “wacky,” “weird,” and “different” to describe him and his teaching style. He takes these descriptions as high praise. He believes they are evidence his students are being exposed to new ideas and are encouraged to think deeply and creatively. These are goals Blake has strived for throughout his six years as an English Language Arts teacher in Savannah, Missouri. Prior to being hired by Savannah, Blake attended Missouri Western State, where he served as president of several honor societies and worked as a writing tutor. He graduated summa cum laude in 2012 and is a Missouri Writing Project Teacher Consultant. In addition to teaching ELA, Blake is a sponsor for his school’s weekly video broadcast and is the high school cross country coach.

Marsha Tyson has been Physics 1 teacher since 1997 in Columbia, Missouri. During her career, she has achieved National Board Certification and has received several awards, including Science Teacher of Missouri, Columbia Public Schools Junior High Teacher of the Year, and the prestigious national award—the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Currently, she teaches at Battle High School in Columbia, Missouri, and is the science department chair.  Marsha has a passion for her content and enjoys participating in various workshops to bring current information to the classroom. She loves to learn from all content areas and has a special interest in Reading and Writing in the Content Area because she believes we are ALL teachers of reading and writing.

Sarah Valter is currently a Mentor Teacher for the MU Fellows Program at Sappington Elementary in the Lindbergh School District in St. Louis.  She has been teaching for 14 years and has worked with all grade levels, K-5. Sarah has both a Master’s Degree from Maryville University and National Board Certification in Literacy, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education.  She is currently working toward a Doctorate in Teacher Leadership. When she is not in the classroom, Sarah loves spending time with her own children and reading. Sarah presents regularly at local and state conferences and is passionate about authentic reading and writing instruction.

Betty Porter Walls, currently an Assistant Professor in the College of Education at Harris-Stowe State University (HSSU) in St. Louis, Missouri, is a career educator—classroom teacher, school administrator, university professor.  Her university teaching specializations are in the areas of literacy/reading, leadership development, diversity, curriculum and instruction, and early childhood education.  Betty is a noted literacy consultant and professional development presenter who is the recipient of several awards, including the “High Flyer Award” from the University of Missouri-Columbia, “Celebrate Literacy Award” from the Missouri State Council of the International Reading Association, “People Making A World of Difference” from the B’nai B’rith, “Salute to Excellence in Education Award” from the St. Louis American Newspaper, and “MoSTAR (Star Educator)” from Missourians for Students At Risk.  Betty is also Treasurer of the Missouri State Council of the International Literacy Association (MSC-ILA) and Past President of the St. Louis Suburban Council of the International Reading Association.

Lori Wertz has been a Missouri educator for the past 12 years. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary and a Master’s of Reading degree. She served nine years in the elementary classroom, then became a Reading Recovery teacher and Reading Specialist. She is currently in her second year as a Literacy Coach at Westport Elementary School in Springfield, Missouri. Her job is to support teachers in the classroom and see students for intervention.

Kelli Westmoreland is a veteran teacher who has supported instruction through the use of classroom libraries for over twenty years. She has experience writing educational resources, and she is a frequent presenter at local, state, and national educational conferences. Currently, she is the owner of KelliWest Educational Services, offering professional development and coaching. Kelli is a doctoral candidate studying the integration of multimodal resources into ELA curricula.