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Marching Toward Tomorrow: Race, Class, Privilege and Power in Education

The 2015 presentations addressed the following 4 goals as related to both adult and K-12 literacy.

  1. Develop participants’ skills in addressing and navigating difficult conversations and experiences surrounding issues of race, class, power and privilege in literacy or community service settings.
  2. Provide models of civic/community engagement projects or programs. We are especially interested in models that include a social justice training or focus.
  3. Provide specific teaching techniques based on best practices for student-led and community-based literacy groups and organizations.
  4. Describe systemic issues that lead to barriers in access and what can be done to effect change

Develop skills to address and navigate issues of race, class, power and privilege

Power & Privilege in Service

Brittany Campese, Vision Driven Consulting

In this interactive webinar, we will use mixed media to identify power structures at play in community service settings, specifically those focusing on education (e.g. mentoring, tutoring, afterschool programming, Teach for America, etc.). We’ll tap into the collective wisdom and experiences of the group to identify common problems and potential solutions regarding the power dynamics between those “serving” and those “receiving services.”

Implicit Bias in Tutoring: How do we combat the effects of the negative stereotypes we don’t even know we have?

Alexana Garcia, SCALE

Through empirical evidence, extensive research has documented that most people hold implicit biases that affect our feelings, attitudes, and behaviors towards others without being aware of these biases. Biases can be both positive and negative, and much research shows that most people have negative biases regarding African-Americans. The presentation will provide a definition of implicit bias and a summary of current research about implicit bias. As a group, we will discuss some of the stereotypes held about the learners we serve, as well as ways in which we can become aware of our own implicit biases. We will also discuss ways in which we can mitigate the negative effects of our own unconscious biases within a tutoring framework.

Literacy for whom: college students and adult learning

Janet Isserlis, Brown University

This presentation invites participants to consider the varying forms of privilege they bring to their work in supporting adult learning: we may have school privilege, class or race privilege, immigration status privilege and/or other (often unearned) attributes that enable us to live our lives in sometimes greater comfort than those of the learners with whom we work. Having this awareness informs our understandings of the contexts and content of material we develop with adult learners. We’ll discuss the language experience approach, a key means of surfacing learner input while respecting privacy and agency. We’ll look at ways of utilizing the language experience approach to build meaningful texts with learners of varying levels, abilities and experiences with English language and literacy learning. Without discussing power, as such, our understandings of how it functions will strengthen our abilities to meet learners at their points of readiness and support their learning in community setting.

Someone Like Us: How to Address the Lack of Diversity in Literature

Allison Reavis, Dept of Arkansas Heritage

“The lack of diversity in literature has gained a lot of attraction lately. Organizations like First Book, We Need Diverse Books, and VIDA have published statistics showing the great discrepancy between what the world looks like in literature versus real life. Research suggests children look for characters like themselves as role models in literature, and are more likely to read a book about someone similar to themselves; thus, we are often failing our students by not offering them quality-literature that resonates.

This presentation will take a look at current statistics of diversity in children’s literature, and then ask what we can do about it as educators. ”


Models of civic and/or community engagement programs

Leadership Disparities and Opportunities in the Public Sector

La-Tasha Best-Gaddy, Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC)

This presentation will highlight the talent disparities that currently exist within the Public Sector. The presentation will provide leadership opportunities for young people of color as they are the next generation of leaders. The presentation will discuss strategies on changing the face and practice of leadership.

Engaging youth in environmental and social justice literacies for transformative change.

Stacey Duncan & Eileen Davis, Critical Literacy Collective

This presentation will demonstrate the possibilities of social justice training for youth involved in environmental education and community stewardship projects in both urban/rural areas. The focus is twofold; a) developing critical understandings of the way race, class, power and privilege systemically affect access and change in community service settings; b) developing skills in engaging complicated conversations surrounding diverse issues that effect transformative change in youth empowerment and environmental justice literacy and advocacy. Our intention is to identify best practices that reinforce models of empowerment for increasing environmental literacy consciousness and solutions to ecological problems.

Exploring Civic Engagement in the Writing Classroom: Service-Learning and Policy Research

Lesley Graybeal, University of Central Arkansas

Right on Time: St. Croix Youth Advisory Council

While many college students dread academic research projects, community-engaged learning can connect academic research to the social realities that surround us and increase students’ civic literacy along with their information literacy. This presentation will provide an interactive overview of a policy research project originally used in the community college writing classroom to give students a voice in the issues that they research and write about. The policy research project guides students in selecting a social issue and researching how public policy at the local, state, national, or international level could be changed or used to help resolve the issue. Participants will come away with an example of the use of service-learning in the college writing classroom and a practical toolkit for implementation.

Leslie Hamdorf, St. Croix Foundation Youth Advisory Council

The presentation will share how the Youth Advisory Council came to be, its mission and purpose. Members will also share how it operates and the systems that help it grow annually. YAC was created to help youth participate in community development, philanthropy, leadership and civic acion. Members have awarded small grants to youth organizations, held a youth forum and distributed a school climate survey to better understand their community and help improve the dire economic and social situations the residents face. YAC has improved leadership density and socioeconomic conditions of the Virgin Islands by providing college readiness, career exploration, and mentoring opportunities to youths on St. Croix.
This model can be adapated

Project Bookworm: Providing ‘books like me’ to inner city youth

Erin Payseur, Baylor University

This session will utilize a case study approach to highlight Project Bookworm, a new initiative launched this past spring as part of an existing mentoring program facilitated by Baylor University and Communities In School in the Heart of Texas. Project Bookworm is a program that provides culturally relevant books to children served by the Baylor Buddies mentoring program to promote literacy, diverse role models, & engaging stories to inner city youth. This session will overview the program rationale, implementation practices, and suggested strategies for adopting similar programs on other campuses. Join us as we share our insights and passion for connecting youth with culturally relevant and engaging stories!


Teaching techniques for student-led and community-based literacy

Teaching Diverse Learners, Preparing Literacy Mentors to Engage & Tutor English Learners

Eva Boehm, America Reads University of Minnesota

This virtual presentation will outline the essential considerations for literacy mentors when engaging in relationship building and embarking on the instructional journey of tutoring English Learners. This hour long presentation will support participants in recognizing what they already know about the second language learning trajectory and identifying the various stages of second language acquisition and building knowledge around the selection of age and ability appropriate resources. Participants will also have access to video clips of America Reads literacy mentors discussing and demonstrating several vocabulary & comprehension instructional strategies they use with their English Learners.

How to Teach Self-Evaluation to Set and Meet Goals

Anna Ridener, Reading Connections

The presentation would explain why self-evaluation is important and introduce strategies and tools to empower adult students to self direct in order to set short and long term goals.

Writing Creatively

Dr. Lillian Fawcett, Cracking the ABC Code

Many students find it difficult to write in a cohesive, interesting and fluent style. This presentation will provide some specific strategies for helping students develop their written expression skills.

Go in, Poet! Youth Spoken Word Poetry and Social Justice

Beth McDonough, Western Carolina University

The youth speak. Adults and fellow students listen. This is the simple formula that built a robust, inclusive youth spoken word poetry movement in Asheville, NC, requiring only an invitation, a stage, and a microphone. Longtime educator and community activist, Beth McDonough, will share her experiences working with youth and spoken word poetry; video examples of students ages 11-18 using their original poetry to address issues of race, class, power and privilege; and simple tips for success in facilitating an environment where youth voices are heard. Examples

Systemic issues and effecting change

Youth4Education: Isn’t it time you shared your voice?

Emily Uecker & Sheridan Sumouske, National Youth Leadership Council

Imagine a school where teachers understand why youth are not motivated. A school where diverse youth have a voice in the classroom. A school that challenges youth to look at the world outside of school. Then they investigate a community need, research the causes, and apply what they are learning to help resolve inequity in their schools and community.
Youth work with each other to mobilize their plans and begin to see real change happen in their communities because of their knowledge. This is the power of service-learning.
We’re advocating that young people themselves take an active role in their education, and that service-learning can help us make strides on all of those fronts. There are 76 million youth in America under the age of 18. How many have been given a voice in their own education?

Join the National Youth Leadership Council’s Youth Advisory Council in an engaging session to explore how youth as leaders can address equity within their classrooms. Leave with an action plan to Serve. Learn. Change the World.

Tutoring Homeless and Highly Mobile Youth

Jennifer Kohler, University of Minnesota

This session is designed to demonstrate how tutoring programs can prepare tutors to work with homeless and highly mobile student populations. This session highlights the specific homeless and highly mobile student population of Minnesota, where homeless youth has reached its highest level since 1991 (Wilder Mn Homeless Study). Participants will- 1) gain background knowledge of this issue, supported with highlights from the Wilder Foundation 2012 Minnesota Homeless Study, 2) view a brief clip from a locally filmed documentary about homelessness, 3) Engage in a cause/effect/strategies activity, and 4) discuss the McKinney Vento Act and reflect on participants’ current and future level of engagement regarding this issue.

Literacy, Political Efficacy, Race, and Civic Engagement: Results from the PIAAC Study

Katherine Landeros, American Institutes for Research

The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is a large-scale international household study that assesses a broad range of adult competencies through a direct assessment in three domains: literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving. The study includes an extensive background questionnaire that deepens our understanding of how adult skills are acquired and distributed across the population. PIAAC offers adult educators critical information on the characteristics of low-skilled adults and how skills relate to social and economic outcomes. This session will focus on the literacy performance of low-skilled adults in the U.S. by various characteristics such as gender, age, race/ethnicity, and nativity. The PIAAC data contain information on how literacy proficiency is related to many social and economic contexts such as trust in others, political efficacy, education, income, social mobility, and civic engagement. In addition, a demonstration of Education and Skills Online (E &SO), an online assessment tool will be provided. E&SO is an individual assessment tool for adults of any age who want to measure their basic and workforce-readiness skills and compare their results to the PIAAC study results. Presenters will engage the audience in a discussion on how the data can be useful in their programs.

Reboot Your Digital Strategy!

Bill McNutt & Duren Thompson Center for Literacy, Education & Employment, University of Tennessee

This workshop supports state and local level efforts to cross-train staff on digital literacy, and builds awareness about national and regional Internet access expansion efforts.

Tutoring and Social Justice

Megan Pieters, CEHD America Reads – University of Minnesota

This presentation will address how poverty affects classroom engagement (using Educational Leadership article:, address the intersection of class and race regarding the achievement gap, engage participants in a “Root of the Problem” activity around social issues, provide a social change wheel as a model for involvement, and share resources for America Reads literacy mentors/tutors.

Teaching about the Prison Industrial Complex and Mobilizing for Change

Cynthia Peters, The Change Agent

Given that the U.S. has the highest per capita prison population in the world, we can be sure that our students are affected by mass incarceration. The majority of our students have spent time in prison or have family members or someone else they know who has been incarcerated or detained. Use powerful student writing by ABE learners and immigrants to teach about this issue. Connect the writing to actions that students can take to address various kinds of injustice associated with mass incarceration. Use the prison industrial complex to better understand systemic racism. By lifting up student voices and the voices of those taking action against injustice, your students will be empowered and emboldened rather than defeated by the enormity of this modern day debacle, also known as “the New Jim Crow.

Alexana Garcia

Implicit Bias in Tutoring: How do we combat the effects of the negative stereotypes we don’t even know we have?

Schools: UCLA, BA in International Development Studies
University of North Carolina at Greensboro, MPA
Hometown: San Diego, CA
I have experience working in the fields of adult literacy and K-12 literacy. I believe literacy is important because it empowers people to engage with the world around them while also allowing them to tell their stories.


Allison Reavis

Someone Like Us: How to Address the Lack of Diversity in Literature

Allison Reavis has taught EFL and creative writing classes, worked as a Volunteer Coordinator for a large nonprofit, and served as the Literacy Program Coordinator for SCALE. She currently develops curriculum for the Department of Arkansas Heritage, a state-agency devoted to promoting Arkansas history and culture.


Anna Ridener

How to Teach Self-Evaluation to Set and Meet Goals

2013 Graduate of UNCG, BA in English; originally from Tuscaloosa, Alabama; served as an AmeriCorps member through SCALE for the 13-14 program year. Anna currently coordinates ESOL Student Services for Reading Connections in High Point, North Carolina and also teaches an ESOL class at Davidson County Community College.


Beth McDonough

Go in, Poet! Youth Spoken Word Poetry and Social Justice

Beth McDonough has two decades years’ experience teaching information literacy and has been a youth spoken word advocate since 2006. She founded the annual Asheville Middle School poetry slam, and was a founding organizer of an annual inter-school poetry competition called Asheville Wordslam, and the Asheville Brave New Voices team. She also led the LEAF Festival teen poetry slam in Black Mountain, NC for nine years. Beth holds an MLIS from the University of North Carolina–Greensboro, and an Ed.D. in leadership of curriculum and instruction from Western Carolina University. Her dissertation focused on critical information literacy. She was formerly a National Board certified teacher in school library media, and currently works as a research and instruction librarian for education at Western Carolina University.


Bill McNutt and Duren Thompson

Reboot Your Digital Strategy!

“Bill McNutt came to adult education (AE) as a technologist, having designed and delivered educational content to be delivered via the internet since the late 1980’s. Since then he has been instrumental in developing and delivering AE professional development through LINCS for the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE). Bill has also been active as a face-to-face trainer, developing and presenting material for technology integration at both national and regional conferences for over ten years.h

Duren Thompson, an educator since 1989, has worked at the Center for Literacy, Education and Employment to apply innovative research-based educational techniques to K-12 and adult education issues both in Tennessee and nationally for the past 15 years. Currently her work includes researching, designing, implementing, and evaluating technology-related professional development activities, particularly Web 2.0 technologies and support for online PD courses and delivery methods. She is a National LINCS Technology trainer and part of the LINCS Region 2 Professional Development Center. For more information visit:

Brittany Campese

Power & Privilege in Service

For more than 10 years, Brittany Campese has actively supported the work of change-makers in many communities across the U.S. through her roles as a board member, facilitator, volunteer, employee, philanthropist, and now as a consultant. With a Master of Nonprofit Management and a Bachelor of Women’s Studies Degree, Brittany combines her dedication to social justice with a hands-on approach to community capacity-building. She teaches workshops online and in-person, and provides comprehensive support to Philly-based individuals, groups, and nonprofit organizations.

Brittany is passionate about her work and develops personal connections to each project and client. She starts conversations from points of strengths and assets, valuing and engaging different styles of learning and processing. Her methods are rooted in feminist and anti-oppression frameworks, and she seeks out the voices, opinions, and ideas of people at all levels of power to create sustainable, healthy, inclusive changes.


Cynthia Peters

Teaching about the Prison Industrial Complex and Mobilizing for Change

Cynthia Peters is the editor of The Change Agent (which is published by the New England Literacy Resource Center at World Education). She is a long-time ABE and ESOL teacher, and she is active in her community around social justice issues, including opposing wars abroad, stopping foreclosures and evictions, and supporting youth activism.


Dr Lillian Fawcett

Writing Creatively

Dr Lillian Fawcett has over 20 years experience in education, is an accredited Dyslexia-SPELD specialist teacher, and has additional qualifications in psychology. She has developed a range of spelling and reading programs based on well-research literacy acquisition and memory retention principles which has enabled her to successfully help hundreds of students improve their literacy skills. Numerous teachers and school are currently using Lillian’s evidence-based Cracking the ABC Code programs.


Emily Uecker & Sheridan Sumouske

Youth4Education: Isn’t it time you shared your voice?

Emily Uecker serves at the National Youth Leadership Council as our AmeriCorps Promise Fellow, Youth Initiatives.  As a young, recent graduate passionate about social justice, Emily is excited to work with a group of motivated young leaders collaborating for social change. During her time pursuing her social work degree at Augsburg College, Emily had the opportunity to intern at several nonprofits in the Twin Cities working to promote equal opportunity for all — whether through literacy, housing, or education. She was also a member of Students for Racial Justice, a group that organized events centered around educating students about race, racism, and white privilege, and was part of the Bonner Leaders, a national service-learning work study group. Emily’s dream is to work as a social worker focusing on community organizing with youth. She is excited for the amazing opportunities NYLC offers for her to begin on that path. When she is not working, Emily enjoys reading and exploring new neighborhoods in the Twin Cities via her bike or MetroTransit.

Sheridan Sumouske is currently on the 2014-2016 Youth Advisory Council (YAC) with The National Youth Leadership Council™. The Youth Advisory Council is a team of servant-leaders recognized for their dedication to youth leadership, service-learning, diversity, and educational achievement for all. They work across the United States, demonstrating how young people can contribute today. Sheridan lives in Pueblo West, Colorado and is a senior in high school. Sheridan’s extensive community contributions have been recognized with The Prudential Spirit of Community Award and the President’s Volunteer Service Award. In April, the YWCA honored her with the 2015 Young Leader Award at their 14th Annual Tribute to Women. Through The United Nations Foundation Girl Up™ club community, she was selected as one of 30 American girls to attend the first annual Women in Science (WiSci): Girls STEAM Camp, a three-week camp hosted at the Gashora Girls Academy in Rwanda for girls interested in the fields of STEAM (STEM + Art). The camp is a partnership between Girl Up™, The U.S. Department of State, Intel, Microsoft and the Rwanda Girls Initiative. Sheridan aspires to be an Aerospace Engineer.


Erin Payseur, Tomeka Morrison, & Kelly Connolly

Project Bookworm: Providing ‘books like me’ to inner city youth

Erin Payseur currently serves as the Associate Director of Community-Based Learning at Baylor University and the primary advisor for the Baylor Buddies Program. She has her Master’s Degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of South Carolina. Erin is responsible for the oversight & development of student co-curricular service and social justice initiatives and also teaches in the leadership minor. She loves the opportunity to shape the leadership development and civic engagement of college students, building connections between the campus and the community.

Tomeka Morrison currently serves as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Baylor University. She received her degree in International Studies and a Poverty Studies and Social Justice minor from Baylor University in 2014, where she is currently working alongside community partners and Baylor students to fill the service need of the community of Waco. She has worked alongside the Office of Community Engagement and service as well as Community in Schools to help develop Project Bookworm, a children’s book list of diverse titles aimed to expose youth to characters that resembled them and their community. She currently resides in Waco, Texas.

Kelly Connolly currently serves as the Mentor Coordinator for Communities In Schools in the Heart of Texas. Kelly is responsible for the oversight, development, and expansion of CIS’s mentoring efforts throughout the thirty schools in a six-county region. Kelly obtained her Masters degree in Social Work from Baylor University with a concentration in Community Practice in 2014. She enjoys her current role as it offers the opportunity to unite her passion for seeing local communities thrive with her commitment to seeing excellent programs offered to clients. Prior to serving with CIS, Kelly has worked for non-profits in Washington D.C., Boston, Santa Barbara, and Northern Uganda, and brings with her rich practice experience and a global perspective.


Eva Boehm

Teaching Diverse Learners, Preparing Literacy Mentors to Engage & Tutor English Learners

Eva Boehm has worked passionately as a Reading Specialist since 1991 in Ohio & Minnesota.
In August of 2011, Eva began her role as the Univ. of MN – America Reads Associate Curriculum Director. This work involves training the over 150 America Reads literacy mentors hired and providing professional development to the over 20 site supervisors and related on-site faculty.
Eva’s other professional projects include: advisory board member for LiRN (Leadership in Reading Network) & the Higher Education Literacy Partners project; MRA legislative /advocacy co-chair; Generation Next K-3rd grade working committee & MN Statewide College/University Faculty Book Club Coordinator
She is a wife and mother to daughters, Emma (18) & Abby (16), Neighborhood Watch Block Captain & Breast Cancer Thriver!


Janet Isserlis

Literacy for whom: college students and adult learning

Janet Isserlis has worked with adult refugee and immigrant learners in the US and Canada since 1980. For the past 15 years she has also worked with Brown and other university students who facilitate ESOL language and literacy classes for adults in Providence. She also teaches a practicum class, Language, Literacy and Community: an Education Practicum in the spring.


Jennifer Kohler

Tutoring Homeless and Highly Mobile Youth

Jennifer earned a B.A. in Communication with English and Writing minors from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 2001. She served as an Americorps VISTA with the Augsburg College America Reads/America Counts Program from 2001-2002, before joining the University of Minnesota America Reads Program in 2002. She has earned certification in training and facilitation, and completed the Successful Manager’s Leadership Program, both through the University of Minnesota College of Continuing Education. She is an alumni of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Leadership Institute and the University of Minnesota Women’s Leadership Institute.


La-Tasha Best-Gaddy

Leadership disparities and Opportunities in the Public Sector

La-Tasha Best-Gaddy is the Business Counselor with Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC) covering Durham and Person Counties. In this current role She provides business advisory services to Small Business Owners. Prior joining the SBTDC, She was the Executive Director of Public Allies North Carolina, a program of the Institute and AmeriCorps national service network. She was responsible for the career development and placement of young adults in a 10 month apprenticeship at non-profit and government agencies. La-Tasha is a passionate thought leader. La-Tasha has over 17 years of experience in the Accounting, Insurance, Financial Services, and Non-Profit Industry Sectors. Through her leadership at The Institute, the organization has received state and national recognition and funding on entrepreneurship, student debt, housing, and credit. As a result of her work, research and policy has changed in the areas of credit and student debt. She has been an instructor at NC Central University and Durham Technical Community College as well as guest speaker at several Colleges & Universities within North Carolina. She is active within the community and serves on multiple committees and boards. La-Tasha serves as Board Treasurer of The Collaborative, Executive Steering Committee of NC Assets Alliance, Executive Committee of Self-Help Credit Union, and PNC Blank Community Development Advisory Board. She holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from North Carolina Central University. She has a certificate from The College of Insurance in New York. She is a graduate of NC Rural Economic Development Institute, Leadership North Carolina and Leadership Triangle. La-Tasha is married with two children.


Lesley Graybeal

Exploring Civic Engagement in the Writing Classroom: Service-Learning and Policy Research

Lesley Graybeal currently serves as the Service-Learning Program Coordinator at the University of Central Arkansas and previously taught English composition and literature and coordinated the Service-Learning Program at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina. She holds a PhD in Social Foundations of Education from the University of Georgia and is interested in community education, experiential learning, and social justice.


Leslie Hamdorf, Iris Battiste & Shideya Parilla

Right on Time: St. Croix Youth Advisory Council

A committed service worker, Leslie has been involved with YAC since its inception in 2009. After serving three terms with AmeriCorps, she was driven to get her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Change. Her research focused on youth empowerment and voice through leadership training and civic action. She continues to refine her work in youth leadership, depending on the environments that she finds herself.

A current junior at the St. Croix Educational Complex and a committed youth to civic development. Iris has been apart of YAC for the past 4 years and has been a leader both in the meetings and the realization of different community events. She enjoys community development work and is exploring options in journalism and business.

Shideya joined YAC in 2012. Since her membership she has been actively involved in the direction YAC has moved and in marketing YAC materials and resources to the wider community. Shideya is a committed and involved student and wants to pursue an education in health and medicine.


Megan Pieters

Tutoring and Social Justice

Megan has been a coordinator with CEHD America Reads since fall 2011. She earned a degree in Family Social Science and a minor in Spanish Studies from the University of Minnesota. As an undergraduate, Megan was an America Reads tutor and served in several leadership positions on campus. She enjoys volunteering and considers herself a lifelong learner.


Sondra Stein

Literacy, Political Efficacy, Race, and Civic Engagement: Results from the PIAAC Study

Dr. Sondra Stein has worked in adult literacy and lifelong learning for more than 30 years, as a teacher, administrator, researcher and policy maker. After many years as a teacher and community-based program administrator in Boston, MA, Sondra led the Massachusetts Governor’s Literacy Initiative from 1986-1991. Sondra served as Senior Research Associate at the National Institute for Literacy from 992-2004 where she designed and coordinated several interagency initiatives including the Equipped or the Future standards-based system reform initiative. After leaving NIFL, she managed the National Work Readiness Credential Project at the Center for Workforce Preparation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Stein now lives in North Carolina and continues to consult on literacy and related issues.

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