19th Annual Spring Reading Conference a hit


In 1995, a reading class in Grambling State University’s College of Education executed a class project in which they were able to showcase some of their work. Little did they know that simple class project was the start of what was to become the College of Education’s Annual Spring Reading Conference. 

On Saturday, with the sponsorship of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, the College of Education held its 19th Annual Spring Reading Conference in the Black and Gold Room. The theme of this year’s conference was Using Informational Texts to Enhance Reading/Literacy Skills Across the Curriculum. 

The event was presided over by founder and conference coordinator Dr. Loretta Walton Jaggers. Dr. Jaggers is a professor in the Department of Education, and it was in her reading class in 1995 that the conference came to life. 

The event emphasized the need for more non-fiction texts to be incorporated in the classroom. Some of the benefits to children who are taught with informational texts in the classroom were highlighted; among the benefits are improved critical thinking, a better understanding and appreciation of lifestyles other than their own, and enhanced literacy skills.

A highlight of the conference was an award ceremony in which five students who are enrolled in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction graduate program were honored. These graduate students, who also teach at schools in the surrounding communities, were recognized for their incorporation of informational texts in the classes they teach.

The awardees were: 

 Connie Findley, a first-grade teacher at Minnie Ruffin Elementary in Monroe; 

Yu Feng Huang, a third-grade teacher at Alma J. Brown Elementary; 

Tameka Miller who teaches sixth- and seventh-grade special education at Farmerville Junior High; 

 LaTisha Robinson-Vernon, a Simsboro High School sixth-grade teacher; and 

Zandria Westbrooks-Guidry who is an inclusion teacher (K-2) at Simsboro.

Before receiving their awards, each of the five ladies made a presentation showing how they use informational texts in their classrooms. Some of the materials they use as informational texts in their classrooms were also on display.

Following their presentation, each lady received the 2013 Pinkie Carolyn Wilkerson Literacy Award. The award is given for exemplary literacy achievements, outstanding scholarly works and continuous commitment to enhancing literacy development. 

Wesbrooks-Guidry was particularly humbled. “I had the pleasure of meeting Pinkie Wilkerson, and it’s such an honor to receive this award,” she said.

Another award presented at the conference was the Exemplary Literacy Service Award for 36 years of outstanding services as a mentor, educator and advocate for the development of reading/literacy skills. This award was presented to Mrs. Jean G. Brown, Louisiana Reading Association District II director; and Shirley Henderson, North Louisiana Reading Council treasurer. 

Other awardees included GSU alumna and retired educator Paulette B. Thompson for her donations; Dr. Jimmy McJamerson, retired professor of history who received the Outstanding Poet Laureate Award; as well as Young Authors Contest Award winners from Ruston Elementary, Grambling Middle School, Grambling High School, and the Alma J. Brown Elementary School.

Among the speakers at the conference was Dr. Janet Guyden, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research. Dr. Guyden once served as dean of Education.

Dr. Larnell Flannagan, dean of the College of Education, who expressed gratitude to Dr. Jaggers for her leadership and dedication to the conference.

He said he hopes the conference was beneficial to those hoping to enroll in the graduate program. “It’s a time to celebrate and a time to learn” is how Dr. Flannagan described the conference.