The University of Tennessee Southern Grissom School of Education welcomes all Tennessee teachers in grades kindergarten through fifth grade to The Lynn McKee Erwin Conference on Children’s Literature: Igniting the Love for Literacy. The day-long conference, funded by Dr. Ronnie Erwin, in loving memory and honor of his late wife, Lynn, will feature nationally known children’s authors as well as a noted literacy advocate. This conference is designed to celebrate learning, literacy, and teachers themselves, who everyday make such a difference in the lives of their students—it will present teachers with a wonderful, fulfilling vehicle by which to earn professional development. The late Mrs. Erwin, herself a teacher, felt that a main attribute of these professionals is the encouragement they are able to give children and families. Teachers, she felt, so often made a difference in the life of a child.
It will be held on February 18th, 2023, in Martin Hall Auditorium on the UT Southern campus, in Pulaski, TN. The structure of this first annual conference includes six sessions throughout the day, and all participants will have the opportunity to meet in small groups with each of our four nationally-known presenters: noted children’s authors Dr. Lester Laminack, Ms. Kelly Starling Lyons, Dr. George Ella Lyon, and children’s literacy advocate Ms. Carol Hampton Rasco. Teachers love to look at books, though for most that opportunity is not available; for that reason, the Book Gallery will have hundreds of new books for children available for perusal in the “Book Gallery.”
How better to celebrate teachers than with free “goodies!” Each participant will receive six hardback books–two by each of our authors, and two more books that they may choose themselves– as well as a conference bag filled with Conference swag! And of course, lunch is included in the $10.00 cost of the Conference.
Below are highlights about our presenters.
Carol Rasco, a native Arkansan and a former 6th grade teacher and middle school counselor, got to know the national children and family literacy landscape beginning with position as director of policy and liaison to the National Governors’ Association, under Governor Bill Clinton. Following Clinton to Washington, she served as Assistant to the Director of the Domestic Policy Council and advocate for disability rights, literacy, and children from 1993 to 1996. From 1997 to 2000 Ms. Rasco served as senior advisor to the United States Secretary of Education, Richard Riley, and became director of the childhood literacy initiative, the America Reads Challenge, a program designed and implemented by Riley and Rasco. Rasco later joined Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the largest literacy non-profit organization in the United States, as its president and CEO. A proponent of children and families’ access to literacy and books in the home, by the time of Ms. Rasco’ s retirement in 2017, RIF had distributed over 415 million books to over 41 million children. Under her leadership, Reading Is Fundamental also conducted a seminal study on summer learning loss in reading, in 16 states, 173 of the poorest schools in the country, and 30,000 children.
Lester Laminack, a full time writer, reading specialist, and consultant working with teachers and schools throughout the United States, is Professor Emeritus at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina, where he was a noted professor and scholar. The author or co-author of over 25 books for children and teachers, his newest book for children, Three Hens, a Peacock, and the Enormous Egg, which will debute at the Conference. Among his works are The Sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins, Trevor’s Wiggly-Wobbly Tooth, Saturdays and Teacakes, and The King of Bees.
He is an active scholar, having authored and co-authored many publications on the teaching of reading and writing, and an entertaining presenter! For more information, visit lesterlaminack.com.
George Ella Lyon is a poet, former Kentucky Poet Laureate, writer, teacher, musician, storyteller with Appalachian roots and a worldwide reach. She has published 10 poetry collections, two adult novels, 6 novels for young people and 34 children’s picture books, in addition to stories, songs, plays, scripts, and memoirs. Lyon is the author of Trucks Roll!, Planes Fly!, and Boats Float!, co-written with her son. Among her many books are the ALA Notable All the Water in the World, What Forest Knows, The Pirate of Kindergarten, My Friend the Star Finder, and Time to Fly. Her many awards include the ALA’s Schneider Family Book Award, Jane Addams Honor, Golden Kite Award, Appalachian Book of the Year, and the Bluegrass Award. Visit http://www.georgeellalyon.com.
Kelly Starling Lyons developed the art of storytelling from her mom, who took her to productions at a children’s theater, wrote plays and made-up bedtime tales. She has written 16 children’s books, including My Hands Tell a Story, Ellen’s Broom, Going Down Home with Daddy, and Sing a Song: “How Lift Every Voice and Sing” Inspired Generations. She founded The Brown Bookshelf, a digital resource for parents, teachers, and librarians, focusing on the many black voices writing for young readers. Her books have received Caldecott honors and named Bank Street Best Children’s Books, Junior Library Guild selections, and Read Across America’s Book of the Month.. Visit https://www.kellystarlinglyons.com or https://www.amazon.com/stores/author/B002BMK938/about.
This conference offers an opportunity for all those attending to sit in the room with leaders in their field, passionate writers of children’s books, fervent supporters of children, sharing the successes of celebrated authors along with UTS celebrating the teachers who guide our children. For questions and/or more information, reach out to Dr. Jan Hanvy, Director of Teacher Education at UT Southern (firstname.lastname@example.org); Dr. Claire Paul, Program Coordinator, Special Education (email@example.com); Dr. Tina Smith, Program Coordinator, Elementary Education (firstname.lastname@example.org). Here is the link to register: https://bpt.me/5712053. If you need help, please contact Ms. Amber Birdsong (email@example.com). We hope to see you for the best professional day you have had in a while!
The University of Tennessee Southern is a liberal arts institution of higher education, originally formed under the name Martin Methodist College, founded in 1870 and related to the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church. Offering associate, baccalaureate and graduate degrees, UTS is located on an historic campus in Pulaski, among the beautiful rolling hills of southern Middle Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Southern is convenient to both Nashville (70 miles north) and Huntsville, Alabama (40 miles south).