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Michigan Reading Association Teacher Educator Award Recipients

2017 Teacher Educator Award Recipient

Dr. Mary Bigler, Eastern Michigan University Professor – Department of Teacher Education

As a teacher of pre-school through college students, Dr. Bigler has inspired students and teachers for more than forty years across the United States. MRA claims her as one of our own as she served as President from 1982-1983. Mary has appeared in “Who’s Who of American Women,” has been an advisor to governmental and educational institutions, and has appeared on television and radio promoting literacy. Currently, she is an award-winning professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Eastern Michigan University where she teaches both undergraduate and graduate literacy courses. Her “Lessons Learned” publication continues to charm readers with her humor and optimism, and her dedication keeps her coming to MRA year after year to share her knowledge and enthusiasm. Please join the MRA in congratulating Dr. Mary Bigler as the Teacher Educator of 2017.

2016 Teacher Educator Award Recipients

Dr. Sue Ann Sharma, Oakland University, Visiting Assistant Professor

When someone is described as always having an iron (or two) in the fire, you know that person has the drive to make a difference. This year’s co-recipient of the Teacher Educator Award from Oakland University, Dr. Sue Ann Sharma, is one of these educators. Sue has donated incalculable volunteer hours to promoting literacy in our state. She is a Past President of the Michigan Reading Association, but that accounts for just some of those hours. She has worked on committees at both the state and international level. Her passion for helping others understand the importance of sharing literacy knowledge goes beyond her volunteer time and carries over to her college classes. Her classes bring to her students knowledge of the subject and engage them in a dialogue that helps them understand their own goals as educators. She is described as having enthusiasm and a genuine interest in people that makes her a natural leader who can go far beyond her already significant expertise. Congratulations to Dr. Sue Ann Sharma from the Michigan Reading Association.

Dr. Susan V. Piazza, Western Michigan University, Associate Professor of Literacy Studies

When one thinks of a person who has gone the extra mile to gain knowledge, western Michigan has a special person who fits the phrase. This year’s co-recipient of the Teacher Educator Award is Dr. Susan V. Piazza from Western Michigan University. Her travel to China with the People to People Language and Literacy Delegation opened up another world of literacy. This knowledge has been shared with many educators in our state. She is described as being a genius with sharing her time, experiences, and knowledge not only with her students, but with participants in her presentations, encouraging them to research, publish and practice literacy. She has gone beyond the ivy walls to help with a program at Baldwin Community Schools. Susan has a passion for working with teachers who serve students living in poverty. To help internationally she is on the ILA committee in the area of research. Congratulations to Dr. Susan V. Piazza from the Michigan Reading Association.

2015 Teacher Educator Award Recipient

Dr. Patricia A Edwards, Michigan State University Professor – Department of Teacher Education

Dr. Patricia A. Edwards is this year’s Michigan Reading Association Teacher Educator Award Recipient. Patricia A. Edwards is a member of the Reading Hall of Fame, Distinguished Professor of Language and Literacy in the Department of Teacher Education, and Senior University Outreach Fellow at Michigan State University. Dr. Edwards is an internationally recognized author and expert in parent involvement, home, school, community partnerships, multicultural literacy, early literacy, and family/intergenerational literacy, especially among poor and minority children. She served as a member of the IRA Board of Directors from 1998-2001, in 2006-2007 as the first African American President of the Literacy Research Association (formally the National Reading Conference), and as President of the International Reading Association (2010-2011). She is a recipient of the Albert J. Kingston Service Award and the 2014 IRA Jerry Johns Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading Award. Currently, MRA is proud to have Dr. Edwards as the co-chair of the newly revised Michigan Reading Journal (MRJ).

2011 Teacher Educator Award Recipient

Dr. Vivian Gail Johnson, Marygrove College, Coordinator Graduate Reading Program

Dr. Vivian Johnson loves to teach, loves her students and loves her field of study – Reading. She states that her personal experience as a reader influenced her desire to share a realistic perspective about the power of reading. Vivian is one of the most active members of the Marygrove College community. She works tirelessly on crucial tasks, mentors graduate students and reaches out to the community through United Way’s “lap babies.” Part of her teaching success can be attributed to her ability to make connections that engage students with subject matter. Dr. Johnson embraces text-self-world comprehension connections for each of her instructional audiences. She is active in policy practices in the institutional settings, state-level decision committees and professional organizations. Vivian decided to move to Michigan in 1996 after attending a church conference in Detroit where they mentioned the need for a faith-based school. She jumped at the chance to relocate and decided to stay. Marygrove College and the eastern part of the state is blessed to have Dr. Vivian Johnson working with them.

2010 Teacher Educator Award Recipient

Sandra M. Riccardi, Waterford School District, K-5 Consultant

“Teachers need to be life-long learners who instill that passion for learning in their students.” These words from this year’s Teacher Educator recipient, Sandra Riccardi, are exemplified in her focus on developing teacher leaders who are an integral part of their curriculum and policy decisions. Currently, Sandra is spending a week in each elementary building in her district. She models teaching strategies in the classrooms, and helps teachers set individual goals. Sandra makes herself available to everyone with whom she has contact. Teachers are constantly emailing her, calling her, and even texting her with questions. Her willingness to help enables the teachers she works with to experience and celebrate small success on their way to accomplishing larger goals. Sandra’s ability to self-reflect and look for ways to improve is a model for her entire district.

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