The Joy of Literacy

Alabama Literacy Association's 53rd Annual Conference

November 4-5, 2021

Virtual Conference via Zoom

The theme for this year’s conference is The Joy of Literacy. Proposals should focus on literacy and may include the science of reading, integrating ISTE standards into literacy curricula, STEAM, children's/YA literature, ESOL, digital literacy, reading/writing workshop, reading intervention, literacy instruction and assessment, new ELA standards, socio-emotional learning and blended learning. Presentations should be designed for P-12 or teacher preparation. Please make sure you include the grade level(s) and intended audience in your proposal.

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Jan Burkins

Author, Speaker, and

Staff Development Specialist

Dr. Jan Burkins has spent her career studying and teaching about how children learn to read. Her undergraduate degree is from Birmingham-Southern College and her master's is from the University of Alabama. She attended the University of Kansas, where she earned her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in reading, and her dissertation meta-analysis of the research on phonemic awareness earned multiple awards and was one of three finalists for the International Literacy Association’s Dissertation of the Year Award. 

Jan taught elementary school for seven years and served as an elementary literacy coach for seven years. She has also worked as a part-time assistant professor at the University of Georgia.

Jan has written or co-written six books about literacy and literacy coaching. Her most recent book--co-written with Kari Yates--Shifting the Balance: 6 Ways to Bring the Science of Reading into the Balanced Literacy Classroom (Stenhouse, 2021) was written in response to increasing questions from dedicated literacy educators who were trying to make sense of experimental science while holding onto the heart of balanced literacy.

Currently, Jan is a full-time writer, speaker, and staff developer. Her work includes speaking engagements, literacy audits for schools and districts, presentations at conferences, professional learning support for school districts, and curriculum development for schools and other agencies working to improve the literacy learning of children. With more than 30 years of experience in education, Jan’s favorite work is in classrooms, alongside teachers and students, where she coaches dedicated educators to support students in becoming independent and proficient readers.

Jan lives in Athens, Georgia with her husband and her youngest of four sons. You can learn more about Jan’s work at or, or you can contact Jan directly at

Kelly Boswell

Educator, Author, Literary Specialist

Kelly Boswell has many years of experience as a classroom teacher, staff developer, literacy coach, and district literacy specialist.   

Her latest book, Every Kid A Writer, will be available in October 2020. She is the coauthor of Crafting Nonfictionand Reading Solutions and the author of Write This Way and Write This Way From the Start. She is also the author of several nonfiction children’s books.  

Kelly works with schools and districts around the country to support educational leaders, coaches and teachers. Her emphasis is on developing literacy practices that help students become joyful and passionate readers and writers.  

Sara Holbrook

Educator, Author/Poet and Literary Consultant

Sara Holbrook is an educator, author/poet and literary consultant 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 U.S. and over 50 other countries for more than 20 years. She is also the author of more than fifteen books for children, adults and teachers as well as an award-winning performance poet and frequent keynote speaker. Her middle grade historical fiction novel, The Enemy, Detroit 1954 won the 2018 Jane Addams Peace Award.

Michael Salinger

Educator, Author/Poet, Playwright

Michael Salinger is an educator, author/poet, playwright has been writing and performing poetry and fiction for over 30 years. He has written books for elementary to adult readers as well as having co-authored four professional books for teachers. His book, Well Defined, Vocabulary in Rhyme, won a VOYA top shelf award. As a literacy consultant, he has visited over 200 cities spread across more than 50 countries, developing an expertise in working with English language learners.

Together, Sara and Michael were named the 2021 Outstanding English Educators of the year by the Ohio Council of Teachers of English and are the authors of five professional books, including their most recent publication, From Striving to Thriving Writers, Strategies to Jump-Start Writing (Scholastic), a collaboration with Stephanie Harvey and the digital curriculum supplement             Read Write Speak it! Empowering Student Voices


Marissa Stukey

Senior Director – Field Team Learning with Center for the Collaborative Classroom

Dr. Marisa Ramirez Stukey is Senior Director – Field Team Learning with Center for the Collaborative Classroom. She received her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in teacher education and professional learning and a Master’s Degree in Reading Education, both from the University of Florida. She is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher with over fifteen years experience teaching in both elementary and higher education contexts, instructional coaching, and professional learning systems development. Her research interests focus on reading comprehension instruction and designing literacy professional learning. She has consulted with numerous school districts in developing change models and collaborative professional learning structures, particularly to shift literacy instruction. She lives in Gainesville, Florida with her husband and young daughter.

Dr. Laurie Lee

Emproving Literacy Research Alliance Manager
Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southeast

Dr. Laurie Lee began her career as a teacher and taught elementary and middle school for 13 years in three different states. She served in the literacy office in two different state education agencies, with a ten-year stint at the Florida Department of Education. Currently, Dr. Lee is the Improving Literacy Research Alliance manager for the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southeast. She has co-authored several REL Southeast literacy tools and has extensive experience providing training to states, districts, and schools. 


Alabama Literacy Association

Start Date: Monday, November 1, 2021

End Date: Sunday, November 7, 2021

Last Day to Book: Friday, October 8, 2021

Hotel(s) offering your special group rate:

  • Marriott Birmingham for 125 USD per night

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