Eastern Students Attend and Present at Literacy Conference

The students' presentation focused on literacy in K-12 classrooms.

December 19, 2022

EWU’s School of Education sent three students to a respected literacy conference, the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE), in Anaheim, California on Nov. 17-20.

Shelly Shaffer, director of the school of education and literacy professor, and Melissa Bedford, the school’s assistant director and assistant professor of literacy, worked with the students on the project and conference presentation, including securing funding for the trip.

Shaffer has helped over ten students give presentations at the NCTE since 2016.

Michelle Arceo, Denise Sharkey, and Rachel Ruff, all seniors majoring in education with an endorsement in literacy, presented their research, “Picture Books as Visual Literacy in K-12 Classrooms,” as part of a larger session called “The Future is Now.” That session focused on preservice for beginning teachers.

During the conference, the students were able to meet and interact with education scholars, while also attending informational sessions that will assist them in their path to becoming teachers. Students also collected materials for their future classrooms, including preview copies of some of the latest children’s books.

“Going to NCTE as a future educator, opened my mind to the community of literacy. I enjoyed hearing thoughts from like-minded teachers, librarians and authors, all while having the opportunity to do it alongside my classmates and friends, Rachel and Michelle,” said Sharkey.

Attending the event left Sharkey with a feeling of inspiration and excitement for the future. “It felt like a supportive and inspiring environment where we were amongst other book lovers. I felt hopeful knowing that there are books being written that address new topics like LBGTQ+ relationships, immigrant stories, grief and race,” she explained.

Ruff, who also presented, said her experience at the NCTE conference was overwhelmingly positive.

“I took in so much unique information from the multiple breakout sessions provided. My favorite part of this year’s NCTE conference was being able to bring home so many amazing books along with hearing from the authors of these books,” Ruff said.

Sharkey said she was particularly grateful to her professors, Shaffer and Bedford, who facilitated and secured funds for the trip.

“I hope to come back as I make my own journey and growth within teaching and to become a valued member of the literacy community,” Sharkey said.