2019 Annual Conference
Join us for an unforgettable MRA conference with inspirational speakers, educators, authors and special events!
The conference will be held at DeVos Place Convention Center and Amway Hotel, 303 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Please note there is no Friday Pre-Conference this year.
Take a break from sessions to enjoy a meal on Saturday while you engage with ground-breaking national authors, John Schu and Gary Schmidt. John Schu will speak at both his Saturday luncheon and the Kaleidoscope Student Author Luncheon on Sunday, while Gary Schmidt will only speak at his Saturday luncheon.
John Schu (aka Mr. Schu) is nationally known for his expertise in children’s literature and for igniting a passion to read. He will share his experiences in promoting a culture of reading among students, staff, and parents. This luncheon is only available through online registration. The cost of the luncheon is $35.00.
Since American children's literature became truly American in the late 1930s, writers for young readers have struggled with the issue of writing about the hard stuff we encounter as children--and adults. How does a writer for young readers write about national and individual fears and calamities? Here is one writer's perception of our responsibility to tell the truth about a broken world--
a world that is so very, very broken, but also so worthy the winning. This luncheon is only available through online registration. The cost of this luncheon is $35.00. A book signing will follow the luncheon in the exhibit hall.
Join us for a fun luncheon and a chance to interact with your fellow educators, authors, and illustrators. Each attendee will receive a signed book from the author/illustrator at your chosen table. Sign up for your table at the Conference Registration Desk. This luncheon is only available through online registration. The cost of this Sunday luncheon is $35.00.
Come enjoy a night of Music, friends, and honored MRA guests. The Michigan Reading Association would be honored by your presence at this exclusive event. After a full day of education, it is time to let loose and relax with crackers, cheese, fruits, a cash bar. Past Presidents of the Michigan Reading Association, and our 2019 award recipients, will be honored at this party, so you do not want to miss out! Please come and socialize with our MRA Board members, Conference Committee members, sponsors, authors, and presenters. Don’t miss out on your next professional opportunity and interesting connection. Register today! Immediately following the last General Session on Saturday. The cost of this reception is $15.00.
Since Pernille Ripp was a child growing up in Denmark, she knew she wanted to work with kids. She began her journey in education as a math resource teacher, then transitioned into the classroom as a 4th and 5th-grade teacher, and has now found her home as a 7th-grade English teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin. Pernille is also a speaker, author, blogger at https://www.pernillesripp.com
Stephanie Harvey is passionate about literacy. Whatever the size of the group, 500 teachers at a national conference, 50 administrators in a district workshop, or 25 students on the floor, Stephanie brings something special when she talks about literacy. Passion . Described by a colleague as “a gregarious, inquisitive, compassionate woman with boundless energy and a story for every occasion”, she is an author, educator and an enthusiastic advocate for kids and for those who teach them to read, write , question, think and understand. As Stephanie says, “Passion and wonder are contagious. No better way to fire up our kids than to share our own passion for and wonder about the world and all it has to offer.” She believes that schools need to be havens for thinking, incubators for deep thought and kindling for curiosity and inquiry.https://www.stephanieharvey.com
Penny Kittle teaches freshman composition at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. She was a teacher and literacy coach in public schools for 34 years. She is the co-author of 180 Days with Kelly Gallagher, and is the author of Book Love, and Write Beside Them, which won the James Britton award. She also co-authored two books with her mentor, Don Graves, and co-edited (with Tom Newkirk) a collection of Graves’ work, Children Want to Write. She is the president of the Book Love Foundation and was given the Exemplary Leader Award from NCTE’s Conference on English Leadership. She regularly works beside teachers to empower young readers and writers.
Since 1985, Kelly Gallagher has devoted himself to the teaching of reading, writing, listening and speaking—first and foremost, as a high school ELA teacher in Anaheim, California, and also as an author/consultant who works with educators around the world. Today, he is considered one of the leading voices in literacy education.
Inspired by his classroom, mentors and professional development experiences, Kelly has written six books for teachers, many of which have been used in education schools around the world. He is also a featured author for several ELA classroom textbooks and programs.http://www.pennykittle.net
Ellin Oliver Keene has been a classroom teacher, staff developer, non-profit director, and adjunct professor of reading and writing. For sixteen years she directed staff development initiatives at the Denver-based Public Education & Business Coalition. She served as Deputy Director and Director of Literacy and Staff Development for the Cornerstone Project at the University of Pennsylvania for four years. Ellin works with schools and districts throughout the country and abroad with an emphasis on long-term, school-based professional development and strategic planning for literacy learning. She serves as senior advisor at Heinemann, overseeing the Heinemann Fellows initiative and is the editor of the Heinemann Professional Development Catalog-Journal.
Ellin is author of Engaging Children: Igniting the Drive for Deeper Learning (2018), is co-editor and co-author of The Teacher You Want to Be: Essays about Children, Learning, and Teaching (Heinemann, 2015); co-editor of the Not This, but That series (Heinemann, 2013 - 2015); author of Talk About Understanding: Rethinking Classroom Talk to Enhance Understanding (Heinemann, 2012), To Understand: New Horizons in Reading Comprehension (Heinemann, 2008), co-author of Comprehension Going Forward (Heinemann, 2011), Mosaic of Thought: The Power of Comprehension Strategy Instruction, 2nd edition (Heinemann, 2007, 1st edition, 1997) and author of Assessing Comprehension Thinking Strategies (Shell Educational Books, 2006) as well as numerous chapters for professional books and journals on the teaching of reading as well as education policy journals.
Chad Everett currently serves as a middle school literacy coach in north Mississippi. He is a self-proclaimed literacy and technology geek. His knowledge of effective technology practices to enhance student learning, coupled with his passion for literacy, makes him a significant resource in the school districts he works. He previously served as an instructional technology specialist and educator in student discipline where he examined the power of restorative discipline practices to transform the student discipline process, and he continues to bring all he has learned from his previous roles to his current practice with students. Everett is also deeply involved with community adult literacy, believing the change needed to transform education extends beyond the school’s walls.http://www.scholastic.com/bookfairs/reading-summit/chad-everett
Nell Duke, Ed.D., is a professor of language, literacy, and culture and faculty associate in the combined program in education and psychology at the University of Michigan. Duke’s work focuses on early literacy development, particularly among children living in poverty. Her specific areas of expertise include development of informational reading and writing in young children, comprehension development and instruction in early schooling, and issues of equity in literacy education.http://www.heinemann.com/authors/3704.aspx
Tanya Wright is a former kindergarten teacher whose research and teaching focus on curriculum and instruction in language and literacy during the early childhood and elementary years. Her research examines instructional practices that promote oral language, vocabulary, and knowledge development for young children. Wright is co- author of several books for teachers and parents including, "All About Words: Increasing Vocabulary in the Common Core Classroom PreK-2." Her work has been published in journals such as American Educator, The Elementary School Journal, The Reading Teacher, Reading and Writing, and Reading Research Quarterly.
In addition to being the author of The Unstoppable Writing Teacher, M. Colleen Cruz is the author of several other titles for teachers, including Independent Writing and A Quick Guide to Helping Struggling Writers, as well as the author of the young adult novel Border Crossing, a Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award Finalist. Colleen was a classroom teacher in general education and inclusive settings before joining the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project where she is Director of Innovation. Colleen presently supports schools, teachers and their students nationally and internationally as a literacy consultant.http://www.colleencruz.com/
Sara K. Ahmed is currently a literacy coach at NIST International School in Bangkok, Thailand. She has taught in urban, suburban, public, independent, and international schools, where her classrooms were designed to help students consider their own identities and see the humanity in others. Sara is the author of Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension and coauthor with Harvey "Smokey" Daniels of Upstanders: How to Engage Middle School Hearts and Minds with Inquiry. She has served on the teacher leadership team for Facing History and Ourselves, an international organization devoted to developing critical thinking and empathy for others.https://www.heinemann.com/authors/99305.aspx
Kate Roberts is a national literacy consultant, top-selling author, and popular keynote speaker. She taught reading and writing in Brooklyn, NY and worked as a literacy coach before joining the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in 2005, where she worked as a Lead Staff Developer for 11 years. Kate's latest book, A Novel Approach, asks how we can teach whole class novels while still holding onto student centered practices like readers workshop. She is also the co-author of Falling in Love with Close Reading (with Christopher Lehman), DIY Literacy (with Maggie Beattie Roberts), and she co-wrote two Units of Study books on Literary Essay. Her work with students across the country has led to her belief that all kids can be insightful, academic thinkers when the work is demystified, broken down and made engaging. To this end, Kate has worked nationally and internationally to help teachers, schools, and districts develop and implement strong teaching practices and curriculum.https://www.kateandmaggie.com
Donalyn Miller has taught in the Fort Worth, Texas area and was a finalist for 2010 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year. In her popular book, e Book Whisperer, Donalyn reflects on her journey to become a reading teacher and describes how she inspires and motivates her middle school students to read 40 or more books a year. Her articles about teaching and reading have appeared in publications such as Education Week, Teacher, The Reading Teacher, Educational Leadership, and The Washington Post.https://www.bookwhisperer.com
Colby Sharp is a fifth grade teacher in Parma, Michigan. Helping kids find the books that help them fall in love with reading brings him tremendous joy. He has been a classroom teacher since 2006. In 2011, he started the Nerdy Book Club blog with Donalyn Miller. He co-hosts The Yarn podcast with Teacher Librarian Travis Jonker. He also serves on the Nerd Camp Michigan team. Nerd Camp is a free literacy event that takes place in Parma, Michigan each summer.https://www.mrcolbysharp.com/
John Schu (AKA Mr. Schu) is a blogger, a part-time lecturer at Rutgers University, and the Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic Book Fairs. He served on the 2014 Newbery committee, which named the title Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures "the most distinguished contribution to children's literature." He has also served on ALSC’s Children and Technology committee, AASL’s Best Websites for Teachers and Learning, two readers’ choice award committees, the School Library Month Planning Committee, and the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature selection committee.
Every day is a giant book party for this teacher-librarian! In fact, Library Journal named him “The Xtreme Librarian” for the high level of exertion – along with some gears and stunts – he uses to get kids reading, and Instructor Magazine named him a Cool Teacher for redefining what it means to be a teacher-librarian.
John is one of the contributors to The Creativity Project and blogs at MrSchuReads.com..
Jim Bailey is the principal at Hemmeter Elementary in Saginaw, Michigan. He has a passion for helping all students become lifelong readers. Jim spends his time reading, cheering on the Detroit Tigers, and enjoying time with his family (wife, Laura, and two sons, Evan and Griffin). He is an all-around nerd who probably spends too much time obsessing over Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Clash of Clans, and comic books. You can follow him on Twitter @jcbailey3. He writes for the Classroom Communities blog (www.classroomcommunities.com) as well as the Nerdy Book Club.
Nicol Howald loves to read, teach reading, and talk about reading. She has taught in 5 schools, 4 grades, and 3 states and currently calls Hemmeter Elementary in Saginaw, Michigan home. She and her students encourage each other with new technology challenges, including creating a YouTube series titled Hemmeter’s Hidden Helpers, and have great conversations about the latest books. When she’s not teaching her 5th graders, she enjoys traveling and playing games with her family, stalking authors on Twitter, and reading. You can follow her on Twitter @NicolHowald.
Kelly Hendrick is a 3rd grade teacher at Hemmeter Elementary in Saginaw, Michigan. She loves connecting with her students each year and learning about their favorite things. She strongly believes that writers begin as readers and should be given ample time in class to “play” with both. She enjoys golfing with her family and browsing Barnes and Noble with her kids who MAY have been known to put on an impromptu puppet show in the children’s section from time to time. You can follow her on Twitter @kel2orange.
Gary Schmidt is the author of such novels as the Newbery Honor-winning The Wednesday Wars, the Newbery Honor- and Printz Honor-winning Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, and the National Book Award finalist Okay for Now. His most recent novel is Orbiting Jupiter; his most recent book is the picture book biography So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth's Long Walk Toward Freedom.http://www.hmhbooks.com/schmidt/
Ellen Airgood grew up on a farm in Michigan's thumb, where her favorite things to do were read books, ride horses, swing in her tire swing, and write stories. She almost left the University of Michigan after her first year to go back home and farm, but did return to school after her parents offered to cosign the loan for the new fencing she'd need to raise beef cattle on their eighty acres, the only crop they considered feasible. (She was a vegetarian at the time.) She graduated with a Bachelor's Science from the School of Natural Resources and Environment and now lives on the shore of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula, where she writes and owns a diner along with her husband. She is the author of three novels published by Penguin Books, including Michigan Notable Book and Midwest Bestseller, South of Superior (also featured on National Public Radio's Radio Reader), the award-winning Prairie Evers, a Bank Street Best Book for middle grade readers, and The Education of Ivy Blake, a companion book to Prairie Evers. Her work also appears in The Way North: New Upper Peninsula Writings, from Wayne State University Press; Here: Women Writing on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, from Michigan State University Press; and the upcoming Bob Seger's House, also from Wayne State University Press.http://www.ellenairgood.com
Alison DeCamp grew up in the Upper Peninsula hearing many stories about the generations before her and spending her school holidays at ACE Hardware conventions. Although she once won a set of monogrammed glasses, she wouldn't recommend hardware conventions as your next holiday destination. She would, however, recommend you listen to your family stories. She now "works" at Between the Covers in Harbor Springs, helps with the Harbor Springs Festival of the Book, and often wonders what she does with the rest of her time.https://www.alisondecamp.com
Kelly DiPucchio is an American writer of children's books. DiPucchio was born in Warren, Michigan. She attended Michigan State University where she graduated in 1989 in child psychology and development. She currently lives in Detroit, Michigan.http://www.kellydipucchio.com
Anne Drozd is a public librarian by day and a cartoonist by night. She’s an avid space exploration enthusiast and a card holding member of the Planetary Society. Her favorite NASA mission is Apollo 12. Anne helps to introduce people to comics through her work at the Ann Arbor District Library and as co-organizer of the Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival.
Jerzy Drozd is one of the artists of The Warren Commission Report. He leads cartooning workshops for children and teens in libraries and schools, as well as for teachers who want to bring comics to the classroom. He also podcasts about comics and how to make them. Drozd has drawn special projects for Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, Marvel Comics, VIZ Media, and others. His favorite NASA mission is Apollo 15.http://www.jdrozd.com
Formerly an attorney, Jean Alicia Elster is the author of the novel The Colored Car—for ages 8 and older—published by Wayne State University Press and released in September 2013. The Colored Car was selected as a 2014 Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan. It was awarded the 2014 Midwest Book Award in Children’s Fiction by the Midwest Independent Publishers Association and was chosen as an Honor Book for the 2014 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. Elster is, also, the author of the novel Who’s Jim Hines?—for ages 8 and older—published by Wayne State University Press and released in August 2008. Among other honors, Who’s Jim Hines? was selected as one of the Library of Michigan’s 2009 Michigan Notable Books. In addition, Elster is the author of the children’s book series Joe Joe in the City, published by Judson Press. The first volume in that series, Just Call Me Joe Joe, was released in October 2001. The remaining volumes are: I Have A Dream, Too! (May, 2002), I’ll Fly My Own Plane (September, 2002), and I’ll Do the Right Thing (January, 2003). She was awarded the 2002 Governors’ Emerging Artist Award by ArtServe Michigan in recognition of the series. I’ll Do the Right Thing was awarded the 2004 Atlanta Daily World “Atlanta Choice Award” for children’s books. Most recently, Elster was honored with a 2017 Kresge Artist Fellowship in Literary Arts, awarded by Kresge Arts in Detroit, a program of The Kresge Foundation. In 2012, she was selected as the inaugural visiting author for The Lori Lutz Visiting Artist Series at The Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. She was awarded residencies at the internationally acclaimed Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, Illinois, in 2001, 2003, and 2005.http://www.jeanaliciaelster.com
Award winning children's book author and illustrator Matt Faulkner graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. With dozens of books to his credit, Matt enjoys working on projects both historical and fantastical (and he concentrates very hard not to get them confused). His most recent authored/illustrated work Gaijin: American Prisoner of War, a graphic novel (Disney/Hyperion), won the ALA Asian/Pacific award for 2015. He is married to author and children’s librarian, Kris Remenar. They’ve worked together to create the delightful picture book Groundhog's Dilemma(Charlesbridge). They live with their kids and cats in the lower right hand corner of the Michigan mitten.http://http://www.mattfaulkner.com
Debbie Gonzales is a career educator, curriculum consultant, former school administrator and adjunct professor, and once served as a SCBWI RA for the Austin Chapter. Deb currently devotes her time to writing middle grade novels, crafting teacher guides and various other freelance projects. She's the author of six “transitional” readers for New Zealand publisher, Giltedge, and the forthcoming non-fiction picture book Girls with Guts: The Road to Breaking Barriers and Bashing Records (Charlesbridge, 2019). A transplanted Texan, Debbie now calls beautiful Ann Arbor, Michigan home where she lives with her husband John and spunky pup, Missy. Deb earned her MFA in writing for children and young adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.http://www.debbiegonzales.com
Leslie Helakoski is the author and illustrator of 11 picture books. Her book, Woolbur, has won awards and nominations in 15 states and Big Chickens and Chickens Fly the Coop won starred reviews in Kirkus and SLJ as well as Michigan Reads and the Great Lakes Great Books award. As a follow-up, Ready or Not, Woolbur Goes to School was recently released and tackles school readiness. The upcoming Are Your Stars Like My Stars will release in January of 2020. Leslie is a creative writing instructor at Highlights Foundation and teaches picture book workshops across the country. She is also one of Michigan's regional advisors for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.http://www.helakoskibooks.com
Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger are teaching artists who inspire and engage students as they build literacy skills and find their own voices. Sara Holbrook is a full time educator, author/poet and consultant who brings practical knowledge to the classroom helping students to develop the complex thinking and literacy skills they will need to succeed in the 21st century workplace. With over 30 years' experience as a writer in the fields of education, law, public housing, and drug prevention, she has been teaching in classrooms around the US and abroad for over 20 years. She is also the author of more than a dozen books for children, adults and teachers as well as an award-winning performance poet. A frequent keynote speaker, she shows teachers how to use writing and oral presentation exercises in order to help raise vocabulary and other literacy skills along with comprehension through collaboration, writing and classroom performance across all grade levels and content areas. Known for their lively, informed and interactive presentations, both Sara and Michael are frequent speakers and keynoters at state, national and international literacy conferences, as well as providing assembly presentations for students at all grade levels, classroom workshops on writing and public speaking skills, and teacher professional development. Together they have visited over 30 international schools, which has helped them develop expertise in working with second language learners. They are the authors of over 20 books of poetry for adults and young people as well as four teacher professional books. Practical Poetry (Heinemann), Outspoken: Improving Literacy Skills through Poetry Performance (Heinemann), High Definition: Memorable Vocabulary Instruction (Heinemann), High Impact Writing Clinics (Corwin) and their latest, co-authored with Stephanie Harvey - From Striving to Thriving for Writers (Scholastic)https://www.outspokenlit.com
Kevin Kammeraad is an award-winning artist, performer, and author of several books, including “The Tomato Collection” and “Spinach Dip Pancakes.” He also has released several acclaimed children’s CDs, twice receiving the Parents’ Choice Fun Stuff award. He has performed across the United States – from the National Children’s Museum in Washington D.C. to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Hawaii.http://www.lindakmclean.com
Kristin Bartley Lenz is a writer and social worker from metro-Detroit who fell in love with the mountains when she moved to Georgia and California. Now she’s back in Detroit where she plots wilderness escapes and manages the Michigan Chapter blog for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Her fiction, essays, and articles have been published by Hunger Mountain, Great Lakes Review, and Writer's Digest. Her debut young adult novel, THE ART OF HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO, was the 2016 Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize winner, a 2016 Junior Library Guild Selection, and a 2017-2018 Great Lakes Great Books Award honor book for grades 9-12.www.kristinbartleylenz.com
"But, I'm not good at writing..." As educators, we are all working to improve writing. Sometimes that journey calls for us to take different approaches. Join me for an interactive session on how to spark writing growth by applying the 10 Rights of Writers!https://www.wrinkleswallace.com
Carrie Pearson feels that being a children’s book author represents the best merger of her education, occupations, and passion. She holds a BA in early childhood education, taught at the University of Michigan’s preschool and then moved into the business world for 15+ years. From her office in Marquette, MI, she is a full-time writer for children and owner of a consulting business in the children’s book industry that focuses on preparing writers to connect with the right agent. She is also a regional advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Her first two books were published by Arbordale and are nature nonfiction picture books. Her third launched October 2018 with Charlesbridge and is also a nature nonfiction picture book about the world’s tallest tree. Her next projects are a picture book biography about Dr. Virginia Apgar and a nonfiction survey of real-life princesses. Carrie would love to connect with you on Twitter @carrieapearson, Pinterest carrieapearson, through her website www.carriepearsonbooks.com.http://www.carriepearsonbooks.com
Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger are teaching artists who inspire and engage students as they build literacy skills and find their own voices. Michael Salinger has been writing and performing poetry and fiction for over 30 years. His work has appeared in dozens of literary journals published in the U.S.A. and Canada. Eight time captain and coach of the Cleveland Poetry Slam team that represented the city at the National Poetry Slam competition, he has also served as an educational consultant and board member to Poetry Slam, Inc. and is the founder of the teen writing and performance program at Cleveland's Playhouse Square Foundation - the second largest performing arts center in the United States after Broadway. After 23 years working as an engineer, he is now a full time educator/consultant bringing practical knowledge to writing instruction. Known for their lively, informed and interactive presentations, both Sara and Michael are frequent speakers and keynoters at state, national and international literacy conferences, as well as providing assembly presentations for students at all grade levels, classroom workshops on writing and public speaking skills, and teacher professional development. Together they have visited over 30 international schools, which has helped them develop expertise in working with second language learners. They are the authors of over 20 books of poetry for adults and young people as well as four teacher professional books. Practical Poetry (Heinemann), Outspoken: Improving Literacy Skills through Poetry Performance (Heinemann), High Definition: Memorable Vocabulary Instruction (Heinemann), High Impact Writing Clinics (Corwin) and their latest, co-authored with Stephanie Harvey - From Striving to Thriving for Writers (Scholastic).https://www.outspokenlit.com
Buffy Silverman is the author of 90 nonfiction books for children, featuring topics from Angel Sharks to Alligators, and Mars to Monster Trucks. Her nature and science-inspired poetry appears in popular anthologies for children and in children's magazines. She enjoys speaking to elementary school children and teachers about two of her favorite subjects--science and writing. To learn more about her books, please visit her at www.buffysilverman.comhttp://www.buffysilverman.com/
Ruth McNally Barshaw wrote and illustrated The Ellie McDoodle Diaries, six highly-illustrated middle grade novels with Bloomsbury. She is illustrating a new middle grade novel for Lee & Low (available Spring 2018, if all goes well!), illustrated Leopold the Lion for Sleeping Bear Press, and wrote four short stories for Amazon Rapids, a digital app encouraging children to read. She received her first sketch-journal from a prescient art teacher at age 15, and has been keeping journals ever since. She and author-husband Charlie travel extensively doing school presentations.https://www.ruthexpress.com