2019 Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Friday and Saturday, March 1-2

Shanna Peeples, the 2015 National Teacher of the Year, took the road less traveled on the way to her classroom. She worked as a disc jockey, medical assistant, and journalist before teaching, as she says, “chose her.” Shanna taught middle and high school English in low-income schools in Amarillo, Texas for 14 years. Because Amarillo is a resettlement area for refugees, students as diverse as the Karen people of Myanmar to the Bantu people of Somalia, make up classes in her former assignment at Palo Duro High School.

Currently, Shanna is a doctoral candidate in Education Leadership at Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she is a Teaching Fellow. She is also the Educator in Residence for TED Conferences in New York, where she is collaborating as part of team creating a mobile app for corporate learning and professional development.

A former reporter for the Amarillo Globe-News, Shanna won awards for reporting on health issues, schools, and music criticism. Her writing has appeared in Education Leadership, Education Week, Huffington Post, and the New York Observer. Her book, Think Like Socrates: Invite Wonder and Empathy Into the Classroom, will be published by Corwin this fall.

Shanna is a board member of the Longview Foundation, a 2016 National Education Association Global Learning Fellow, and a member of the Global Teacher Prize Academy

Shanna will deliver the Opening General Session keynote on Friday, March 1, at 8 am.

For almost thirty years, Jeff Anderson has inspired writers and teachers of grades 1-10 with the power and joy of the writing process. He has written five books for Stenhouse Publishers: Mechanically InclinedEveryday Editing10 Things Every Writer Needs to KnowRevision Decisions (coauthored with Dr. Deborah Dean of BYU), and his latest, for grades 1-5, Patterns of Power: Inviting Young Writers into the Conventions of Language (with Whitney La Rocca). He also writes middle grade novels, including Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth (Sterling), which was selected for the Keystone State Reading List in Pennsylvania.

Jeff grew up in Austin, Texas, where he fell in love with writing while journaling and sharing stories he’d written to entertain his friends on the phone. As a staff developer and demonstration teacher, Jeff says, “I love the ability to spark curiosity and creativity and to support people in finding their voices. That’s pure joy.”

Jeff’s first book, Mechanically Inclined, came to life when he was looking for ways to integrate grammar rather than ignore it. This book chronicles his journey to teach grammar in a way that would actually resonate with students and, most importantly, be applied to their writing. His other books come from his work in his own classrooms and those across the United States. The invitational process in Everyday Editing is built around facilitating the conversations students have around mentor sentences. 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know is Jeff’s chance to share the essential things writers need. In his first collaboration, Revision Decisions, Jeff and Debbie tackle sentence-combining and its larger effects on revision and writing. Jeff’s new book is written with Whitney La Rocca. They met at a staff development and immediately began tweaking the invitational process for primary and elementary writers. Three years of their professional relationship resulted in Patterns of Power: Inviting Young Writers into the Conventions of Language (2017).

In his free time, Jeff walks his dogs, Carl and Paisley, or sits on the deck with his partner, Terry. When he’s not doing that, he reads middle grade novels or meditates. His latest addiction is nonfiction.

Jeff will deliver the mid-day keynote address on Friday, March 1.

Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous national and state awards, as well as international recognition. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Laurie was honored with the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award given by the YALSA division of the American Library Association for her “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature.”

Laurie Halse Anderson was born Laurie Beth Halse. This would be a good place to clear up the matter of the pronunciation of her name, because it is, after all, her name, and she is weary of hearing it mangled by well-meaning people. Halse rhymes with waltz. Not “hal-see.” No, no, no, no. Halt-z. If she could have anything she wanted, it would be world peace. But if she could have a second thing, it would be having people say her name correctly.

Laurie graduated from Georgetown in 1984 with a B.S.L.L. in Languages and Linguistics, which was useless when it came to getting a real job. She was also a passionate fan of college basketball, but employers did not consider this a job skill, either. For years, Laurie had loved writing, but had considered it little more than a hobby. It eventually dawned on her that people would pay her to write and she became a freelance reporter. She also began to write all types of books and accumulated several inches of rejections letters. In 1996, her first book, Ndito Runs, was published.

In 1999, Laurie wrote Speak, which won award after award — it was a National Book Award Finalist, a Printz Honor book, a Booklist Top10 First Novels of 1999, and lots more. People loved it. And no, it’s not about her or her teenage daughters (thank God). After allowing her head a chance to return to normal, Laurie finished Fever 1793 and saw it published in 2000. She also started the Wild at Heart series, the twelfth book of which was published in March 2003. In 2001, she published The Big Cheese on Third Street, a salute to her adopted hometown of Philadelphia. Yo!

In 2002, the YA novel Catalyst was published. It is set in the same high school as Speak, and features a few cameo appearances from the earlier book’s characters. Thank You, Sarah! was published in 2002 as well. It is the story of Sarah Josepha Hale, a distant relation of Laurie’s who lived by the guiding principal that a person can change the world with her pen. Twisted, a YA novel told from a male perspective, was published in 2007. This became Laurie’s third novel to appear on the New York Times bestseller list. It received the ALA Best Book for Young Adults award, was named to the International Reading Association’s Young Adults’ Choices List, and was voted a Teen Top Ten.

Wintergirls is Laurie’s most recent YA novel. It debuted on the New York Times bestseller list and received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Booklist, and Kirkus, and was the focus of much media attention for its unflinching and raw perspective on eating disorders.

Laurie lives in northern New York, with her childhood sweetheart, now husband, Scot. She has four wonderful children and a neurotic dog, all of whom she dearly loves. When not enjoying her family and her large garden, she spends countless hours writing in a woodland cottage designed and built just for that purpose by her Beloved Husband. She also likes to train for marathons, hike in the mountains, and try to coax tomatoes out of the rocky soil in her backyard. She is quite sure that she leads a charmed life and is deeply grateful for it. Her official website may be found at www.writerlady.com.

Laurie will deliver the evening keynote at 7 pm on Friday, March 1.

Barry Lane is a writer, folksinger, filmmaker, and comedian.  He has written several popular books on writing instruction, including After THE END: Teaching and Learning Creative Revision; the Reviser’s Toolbox; Discovering the Writer Within; and 51 Wacky WeSearch Reports, to name a few.

In his 25-year career, he has presented to students and teachers in all 50 states and ran courses in prisons, colleges, and adult literacy programs.  Barry’s presentations include music, comedy, and many practical ideas to help teachers discover the true power of writing.

You can follow him @barrylane or visit www.barrylane.com.

Barry will deliver the Saturday morning keynote address, as well as a breakout session and a Saturday afternoon post-conference session.

Full-Day Workshop Speakers

Thursday,  Feb. 28

Sherry Norfolk is an award-winning storyteller, author, and teaching artist, performing and leading residencies and professional development workshops nationally and internationally. As a performing artist, she is a dynamic storyteller, appearing in the Manitoba International Storytelling Festival, Taiwan International Storytelling Carnival, International Art of Storytelling Festival, Miami, FL, International Storytelling Center, Jonesborough, TN, Singapore International Storytelling Festival, Manila International Storytelling Festival, and many more festivals, schools, libraries, museums and universities nationwide.

Sherry is a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist, a Wolf Trap Teaching Artist, an Arts Integration Teaching Artist with Tennessee Arts Commission’s Value Plus Schools and Arts360° programs, and is on the rosters of the Mississippi Arts Commission, Louisiana Council for the Arts, South Carolina Arts Commission, Virginia Commission on the Arts, and Springboard for Learning (Young Audiences) St. Louis.

An Adjunct Professor at Lesley University, Sherry is a recognized leader in integrating learning through storytelling. She is co-editor with Lyn Ford of Storytelling Strategies for Reaching and Teaching Children with Special Needs, and with Jane Stenson of The Storytelling Classroom series (four books that explore rigorous, standards-based storytelling strategies for learning across the curriculum).

Gretchen Bernabei has taught middle school and high school for 32 years. After earning her B.A. at Southwest Texas State University, she has devoted her professional life to learning, developing, and sharing best practices, particularly through the National Writing Projects.

She is also the author of many professional books for educators, including Why We Must Run with Scissors: Voice Lessons in Persuasive Writing (with Barry Lane, 2001); Reviving the Essay: How to Teach Structure Without Formula (2005); Sparklers: High Scoring Test Essays and What We Learn from Them (2007); The Good Writer’s Guide (2006); Crunchtime: Lessons to Help Students Blow The Roof Off Writing Tests and Become Better Writers in the Process  (2009); The Story of My Thinking: Expository Writing Activities for 13 Teaching Situations (2012); Fun-Size Academic Writing for Serious Learning: 101 Lessons & Mentor Texts–Narrative, Opinion/Argument, & Informative/Explanatory, Grades 4-9 (2013); Grammar Keepers: Lessons That Tackle Students’ Most Persistent Problems Once and for All, Grades 4-12 (2014); Text Structures From the Masters: 50 Lessons and Nonfiction Mentor Texts to Help Students Write Their Way In and Read Their Way Out of Every Single Imaginable Genre, Grades 6-10 with Jennifer Koppe, 2016); and Text Structures From Nursery Rhymes: Teaching Reading and Writing to Young Children (with Kayla Shook and Jayne Hover, 2017).

For her work, NCTE honored her with the James Moffett Award in 2010.

She currently lives with her husband and two children in San Antonio, TX.

Gareth Hinds is the creator of critically-acclaimed graphic novels based on literary classics, including Beowulf (which Publisher’s Weekly called a “mixed-media gem”); King Lear (which Booklist named one of the top 10 graphic novels for teens); The Merchant of Venice (which Kirkus called “the standard that all others will strive to meet” for Shakespeare adaptation); The Odyssey (which garnered four starred reviews and a spot on ten “best of 2010” lists); Romeo and Juliet (which Kirkus called “spellbinding”); and Macbeth (which the New York Times called “stellar” and “a remarkably faithful rendering”).

Gareth is a recipient of the Boston Public Library’s “Literary Lights for Children” award. His books can be found in bookstores and English classrooms across the country, and his illustrations have appeared in such diverse venues as the Society of Illustrators, the New York Historical Society, and over a dozen published video games.

Dr. Keri Franklin is a Professor in the Department of English and Director of Assessment for Missouri State University. Dr. Franklin is a first generation student who grew up in a rural community in the Ozarks. Those experiences have guided her interest in inclusive and active teaching and learning, especially in rural locations. In 2005, she started the Ozarks Writing Project to focus on improving student writing by working with all teachers to become writers themselves. In the last 10 years, the OWP has brought over 4,000 5-12 students to campus to experience writing.

In addition to her work with K-12 teachers, Dr. Franklin started Faculty Writing Workshops at Missouri State to support university faculty efforts to publish and develop a community of like-minded writers. She conducts faculty development focused on collaborative assessment of student work. Connecting writing across disciplines and empowering teachers to become advocates for themselves has been one of her life’s goals.

As the Director of Assessment in the Office of the Provost, Dr. Franklin works as a consultant to all colleges and units at Missouri State in their thinking regarding improving student learning experiences. Assessment has allowed her to work closely with math, science, physics, and criminology, to name a few.

Dr. Franklin has been a teacher to many audiences– including middle school students, high school students, undergraduate and graduate students, as well as a teacher to parts and service staff in the heavy duty truck industry. All of these experiences have informed her work in rural areas. She is committed to creating equitable opportunities for students and teachers in rural areas.

Christian  Z.  Goering is a professor of  English  Education  at  the  University  of  Arkansas  where he  directs  the  Northwest  Arkansas  Writing  Project  and  works  with  the  licensure  programs  in  English  Education  and  Theatre/Communications.  Chris taught high school English in  Topeka,  Kansas  and  is  a  National  Board  Certified  Teacher.  In 2018, he co-edited Critical Media Literacy and Fake News in Post-Truth America (Brill/Sense) and in 2016 co-authored The  Arkansas  Delta  Oral  History  Project:  Culture, Place,  and  Authenticity (Syracuse  UP).  He’s a singer-songwriter in his  spare  time  and  organizes  a  monthly Songs  in  Progress  event  in  the  community.

Ellen Shelton is the Director of the University of Mississippi Writing Project (UMWP), a site founded in 1987. She also serves as an instructor of the Department of English and the Director of Pre-College Programs for the Division of Outreach. She has presented at numerous conferences and was the primary developer and trainer for Grade Bands 9-12 for the Mississippi Department of Education Collaboration with the Mississippi Writing Projects for the Common Core State Standards Professional Development Program. She has served in a leadership role for the National Writing Project and as annual reviewer for National Writing Project Proposals. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Writing Project.

Ellen earned a B.A. in English from Hendrix College, and an M.A. in English and an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from The University of Mississippi. She is Nationally Board Certified in Adolescent/ Young Adult Language Arts and a 2003 winner of the Milken National Educator Award. She taught secondary English in Mississippi for fifteen years and has been teaching undergraduate and graduate courses for thirteen years. Her research interests focus on K-16 writing instruction and empowering teachers through reflective practice. She was recently named to The University of Mississippi’s School of Education Alumni Hall of Fame.

In her spare time she plays the cello, spends time with her husband and her cats (not in that order), and attempts gardening.

Featured Speakers

Friday and Saturday, March 1-2

Sam Bommarito began teaching in 1970. He spent 30+ years as a reading teacher/staff developer and go-to person in Title 1 buildings. During his time working in Title 1 buildings, he helped to develop and implement 3 national award-winning Title 1 programs, one in a rural district and two in urban districts.  The achievement gains made by students in these programs placed them in the top 1/10 of 1% of all programs nationwide. During his time in the Jennings school district he was trained in Reading & Writing Workshop over a multi-year period. This training included training conducted by Lucy Calkins, Katie Wood Ray, Isoke Nia, and Carl Anderson.

Sam also taught at the university level, spending 10+ years as a reading adjunct at UMSL and 6 years as an assistant professor at Fontbonne University. He has taught all the pre-service courses in reading.

Sam has presented a number of times at local, state, and national reading conventions, including ILA conventions. He has been a presenter at Harris Stowe’s Beginning Teacher’s Program for SLPS teachers. He also chaired a session at the NCTE convention in St. Louis. Dr. Bommarito is the President of the St. Louis Regional Literacy Association (ILA) and Co-Editor of the Missouri Reader. He has been active in volunteer literacy projects in the St. Louis Region. Overall, these projects have distributed over one quarter of a million books to Title 1 students in the last 3 years.  Dr. Bommarito Tweets daily (@doctorsam7) and blogs weekly on literacy issues (https://doctorsam7.blog)

One of Dr. Bommarito’s sessions at this conference will describe an innovative project being implemented by the Missouri Reader. David Harrison, poet laurate of Missouri, has written an article about how poetry is a game changer. It is the anchor article in this special issue, which is slated to come out in February of 2019. This issue deals exclusively with uses of poetry in literacy instruction.  Dr. Tim Rasinski, Eric Litwin, and Dr. Mary Jo Fresch are among the other literacy experts who are contributing articles to this issue. Sam and his co-editor, Glenda Nugent, will talk about the content of the upcoming issue and even perform songs and poems that will be featured in the special issue. This project demonstrates the depth and breadth of current literacy work within the state of Missouri.

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, Casey has visited schools in Central and South America, Europe, and Asia. She studied educational practices in Japan through a Toyota International Teacher Award and conducted research in the teaching of writing in the United Kingdom as a recipient of the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching.

Recently, Casey received her Educator Wellness Certification through Breathe for Change and works with teachers and classrooms to promote healthy lifestyles through mindfulness.

Christy Goldsmith grew up in Sedalia, Missouri—a small town in central Missouri known for being the home of the Missouri State Fair and for its infamous Guberburger. She spent summer days soaking up the smell of books in the Carnegie Library downtown and summer nights reading with a flashlight under the covers. From the time she was old enough to understand school, even though she was painfully shy, Christy knew she wanted to be a teacher.

Though her goal never wavered, during her years at the University of Central Missouri, Christy tried on many teacher hats, finally realizing that her love of reading and writing always had an inevitable end. With an undergraduate degree in English education and a graduate degree in English literature, Christy enjoyed teaching all levels of English in Missouri high schools for eight years. As her “teacher voice” suggests, the eight years she spent in the high school English classroom became the lens through which Christy viewed the world.

In 2014, she traded in the high school classroom for a classroom of a different kind to satisfy her dream of one day being able to teach future English teachers. She came to the University of Missouri and hit the ground running in her typical overzealous fashion of taking too many classes, teaching too many classes, and talking too loudly. In 2018, upon completion of her PhD in English education, Ms. Goldsmith turned into Dr. Goldsmith. She likens her entrance into the academic world as her admission into Hogwarts—and the assimilation still isn’t complete.

As the assistant director of the University of Missouri’s Campus Writing Program and an instructor in the College of Education, Christy’s research and professional development leadership seeks to celebrate teachers and the difficult, vital work they do every day in classrooms across Missouri. Through her narrative inquiry into English teachers’ identities as writers and as teachers-of-writing, she explores the tensions inherent in teaching writing in secondary schools, namely challenges to what constitutes “good” writing, origins of writing identities, and questions of authority in defining purpose and curriculum. Her second strand of research revolves around the teaching and learning of disciplinary literacy.

While she added a research agenda, her teaching–and her collaboration with amazing classroom teachers around the state–still remains the most important part of her work. Through opportunities with the Missouri Writing Project, Christy is able to learn with–and from–teachers from all disciplines and in all types of schools.

In her free time, like all good English teachers, Christy enjoys reading books, talking about books, tweeting about books, and buying books. While she doesn’t have any children, she’d be pleased to show you a collection of photos of her Scottish terrier, Beans. Connect with Christy on Twitter to see all the book talk and dog photos you can handle: @DocGoldsmith


For the last twelve years, Zachary “Zak” and Rachel Hamby have been high-school English teachers in rural southern Missouri. Teaching in a high-poverty area, they believe in the power of literature to enrich and improve their students’ lives. One of their tried-and-true approaches is using Reader’s Theater script-stories to bring classic literature to life. This interactive teaching tool turns their least enthusiastic readers into their most enthusiastic.

Zak and Rachel believe that English teachers preserve democracy. In order for America to survive, its citizens must be informed problem-solvers. A sign posted in Rachel’s room says it best:  “I’m not here to teach you what to think, but to teach you how to think.” To help give American literature additional scope, they incorporate a healthy dose of American history in the form of relevant non-fiction. Prepared with a knowledge of America’s past, they believe their students will be better prepared to face the problems of America’s future.

With Rachel as his trusty editor, Zak has authored and illustrated the Mythology for Teens series, the Reaching Olympus series, and, most recently, the Searching for America series. They also operate two websites for teachers:  www.mythologyteacher.com with a special emphasis on mythology resources and www.creativeenglishteacher.com with a wider focus on general English classroom resources. Zak and Rachel currently teach English at Ava High School—in classrooms right down the hall from one another.

Deborah MacPhee is an Associate Professor of Literacy and Director of the Mary and Jean Borg Center for Reading and Literacy at Illinois State University. A former first and second grade teacher and literacy coach in South Carolina, Deborah now works with pre-service and practicing teachers in Professional Development Schools in Illinois. She works with teachers to develop inquiry-based curriculum in which reading and writing are situated as tools for learning interesting content. She has published such work in The Social Studies and Social Studies Research and Practice. Deborah is a co-editor of Talking Points, journal of the Whole Language Umbrella. Talking Points provides a forum for parents, classroom teachers, and researchers to reflect about literacy and learning. Deborah conducts research on literacy coaching and the reading process. She has published her research in The Reading Teacher, The International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, and Reading Horizons. She recently established an Eye Movement and Miscue Analysis (EMMA) lab at ISU, where she uses eye tracking and miscue analysis to understand how readers perceive and comprehend texts and the effects interventions have on the reading process.

Erik Palmer is an author and educational consultant from Colorado. In his past lives, he managed a commodity trading office for a major Chicago brokerage firm and was the national sales leader of the company. He spent time as a floor trader on a major Chicago commodity exchange. When his sons were born, Erik moved into teaching, spending twenty years in the classroom, primarily as an English teacher but also as a teacher of math, science, and civics. He was the teacher of the year in one of the nation’s top school districts.

Now in his third career, Erik brings his unique experiences to his work as a consultant, speaker, and author. He is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences for educators, educational leaders, and training professionals. He has led workshops across the United States and around the world. Erik focuses on oral communication. He shows educators how to teach students the skills needed to speak well in any situation and shows educational leaders how to become more effective speakers. He also helps educators teach listening skills (including media literacy and Internet literacy) and thinking skills (including argument, persuasion, and reasoning), which are critical components of effective communication, as well.

Erik is the author of Well-Spoken: Teaching Speaking to All Students (2011); Digitally Speaking: How to Improve Student Presentations with Technology (2012); Teaching the Core Skills of Listening & Speaking (2014), Researching in a Digital World (2015), Good Thinking: Teaching Argument, Persuasion, and Reasoning (2016), and Own Any Occasion: Mastering the Art of Speaking & Presenting (2017). Erik is a program consultant on Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s reading and language arts programs.

Erik grew up in Detroit, Michigan.  His educational background includes degrees from Oberlin College and the University of Colorado. He lives in Aurora, Colorado, with his wife, Anne. He spends a lot of time traveling: for work, cycling vacations, and visiting grandchildren. You can follow Erik on Twitter (@erik_palmer) or contact him through his website (www.erikpalmer.net).

Sherry Swain directed the Mississippi Writing/Thinking Institute at Mississippi State University before becoming Senior Research Associate for the National Writing Project (NWP). She has had a major role in the development of two writing assessments: (1) the National Writing Project’s Analytic Writing Continuum Assessment System and (2) Prominent Feature Analysis with Richard L. Graves of Auburn University.

She has written widely about teaching and assessing writing, including Assessing Writing, Teaching Writers, with co-author Mary Ann Smith, published by Teacher’s College Press. A former classroom teacher at the primary and university levels, she also works with writing teachers and students across the nation to develop lessons for meaningful revisions.

Currently she serves as director and coach for Mississippi’s Rural Voices Radio, encouraging students (and their teachers) to write about their own insights and experiences. She then coaches the young writers through revisions and guides their rehearsals for recording sessions. The program is broadcast daily on Mississippi Public Broadcasting and is available online.