Debra Coffey, Kennesaw State University
Dr. Debra Coffey is an associate professor in the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education at Kennesaw State University. She is the recipient of the 2018 A.B. Herr Award honoring outstanding contributions to literacy education from the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers. She has established national collaborative networks as President of the Clinical Division, President of the College Literacy Division, and Secretary of the Teacher Education Division of the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers. Her chapters, articles, manuals, and six textbooks resulted from extensive professional collaboration, and they highlight innovations with digital literacy, effective assessment, and research-based strategies for literacy development. Dr. Coffey has served the profession internationally as President of the Concern for Affect in Reading Education (CARE) Special Interest Group of the International Literacy Association. As the KSU Phi Kappa Phi President, the State Field Council Representative for the Literacy Research Association, the Regional Coordinator for the International Alliance for Invitational Education, and Advisor of the KSU chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, she has orchestrated local, national, and international literacy projects.
Melanie Keel, Wingate University
Dr. Melanie Keel earned her M.A. in Special Education: Cross Categorical and Reading License from Appalachian State University and her Ph.D. in Language and Literacy from the University of South Carolina. Dr. Keel has been a professor at Wingate University for seven years. In her capacity as professor in the Thayer School of Education, Dr. Keel teaches Reading Assessment and Instruction, Reading Foundations K-8, Introduction to Differentiated Instruction, among other literacy courses. Dr. Keel is also the English and Education and Reading Program Coordinator.
Elizabeth Bemiss, University of West Florida
Dr. Elizabeth M. Bemiss is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at The University of West Florida. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in literacy, reading, and children’s and young adult literature. Her research addresses literacy practices for teacher preparation, the use of children’s literature and graphic novels with pre- and in-service teachers, and the nature of teacher identity construction.
Dianna Sand, Montgomery County Community College
Dr. Dianna Sand is currently an adjunct professor teaching college reading at Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania, and she is a 2019 recipient of funding for assessment research of the college developmental reading program at the college. Dr. Sand also teaches at Holy Family University in teacher preparation and certification programs, including the reading specialist and graduate educational leadership programs. She is a recipient of the 2018 Ray L Taylor Memorial Award that funded a research study in postsecondary literacy assessment at Holy Family University. In service to the higher education literacy profession, Dr. Sand served as a Division Chair for the College Literacy Division and the Adult Learning Division of the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers.
Dr. Sarah Hamsher is an associate professor at Indiana Wesleyan University (Marion, Indiana) in the School of Educational Leadership. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education (K-8), a master’s degree in Special Education - Mild/Moderate with Reading Endorsement (K-12), and a doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction in Elementary Education. Dr. Hamsher previously taught in the middle school and elementary school settings as a regular education teacher and intervention specialist, respectively. She has worked with exceptionalities, including mild-moderate, moderate-severe, severe-profound, gifted, and twice exceptional. Dr. Hamsher has since taught literacy, special education, and core elementary education courses at the university level and provided professional development to fellow educators in India, Belize, and Ecuador. Her line of research involves the affective domain of learning related to reading, assessment, and online learning. Dr. Hamsher enjoys volunteering for a child sponsorship organization and at church. She has one son with whom she enjoys traveling and whom she enjoys watching play lacrosse.
Dr. Katherine Higgs-Coulthard has served at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame for 24 years. Prior to her current position as assistant professor of literacy education in the Education Department, she served as Director of Student Teaching and Field Study. Her research focus is elementary language arts, especially as it pertains to situated literacy and writing. In this role, she has forged professional development school partnerships with area elementary schools, collaborated with local entities to establish an annual national conference for teen writers, and accompanied several cohorts of student teachers to study literacy instruction in Kirinda, Uganda. Dr. Higgs-Coulthard serves the profession as a consultant for the Indiana Department of Education, as well as a member of the Executive Leadership Councils for regional affiliates of both the National Writing Project and the National Council for Teachers of English.
Mariam is a sophomore at Kennesaw State University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Emerging Media. She serves as News Editor and photographer of the student-media-led newspaper at KSU, The Sentinel. Mariam’s passion for writing has drawn her to this opportunity, and she is proud to offer her contribution to this field of academia. She looks forward to working with the greatly accomplished team at JYACL.
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Check back for biography soon!
Dana Oliver, Southwestern Oklahoma State University
Dr. Dana Oliver is a Literacy Education Assistant Professor and Reading Specialist Program Director at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. She leads doctoral candidates from Southwestern College of Winfield, KS in dissertation development and implementation. Her own research endeavors focus on understanding the complexities of reading engagement and effective support for novice teachers. Favorite professional activities include providing and organizing professional development for surrounding K-12 school districts and presenting at conferences across the nation for organizations such as ASCD and NSSA. She also serves in various roles within many professional organizations including the Association of Literacy Educators and Research (ALER), the Oklahoma Literacy Association (OKLA), the Oklahoma Higher Education Reading Council (OHERC), and the International Literacy Association (ILA).
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After graduation from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor’s in Education and a minor in science education, Dr. Sargent taught for years as an elementary teacher in Ponca City, Oklahoma. He taught science as well as all subjects in homeroom courses. Dr. Sargent graduated from The University of Tulsa with a Master’s in School Counseling. He has also taught developmental reading to adults. He also taught reading methods courses, study skills courses, and served as a reading specialist for an athletic team. Later, Dr. Sargent began work at Northeastern State University as a professor of reading methods. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in reading methods and works extensively in the NSU Reading Clinic. Dr. Sargent works closely with area schools, teaching the majority of his courses in clinical settings. Dr. Sargent works closely with school accreditation at all levels. He currently volunteers with Cognia/AdvancEd for PK- 12 schools and reviews graduate reading programs for CAEP. Finally, Dr. Sargent volunteers with Quality Matters, the recognized body that certifies on-line courses for P-12 and higher education.
Anastasia holds a Specialist Degree in Instructional Technology and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Kennesaw State University, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education with emphasis on Language Arts and Social Studies from the University of Liberia, and an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts from Ricks Institute Junior College. She is highly motivated, flexible, and passionate about providing a wholesome environment in which children can thrive. Apart from her academic qualification and professional expertise, Anastasia has first-hand knowledge of constraints faced by teachers in working with culturally and linguistically diverse children, and she has a keen interest in working with children with challenges in literacy.