Academic journal article Language Arts

Katherine and Randy Bomer, NCTE's 2017 Outstanding Elementary Educators in the English Language Arts

Academic journal article Language Arts

Katherine and Randy Bomer, NCTE's 2017 Outstanding Elementary Educators in the English Language Arts

Article excerpt

Established in 1995, the Outstanding Elementary Educator in the English Language Arts Award annually recognizes distinguished national or international scholars who have "made major contributions to the field of language arts in elementary education" (National Council of Teachers of English, n.d., para. 4). The award criteria note that "Nominees must have dramatically influenced literacy classroom practice, made ongoing contributions to the field of literacy, obtained national and/or international influence in literacy teaching and learning, [and] contributed a body of work that is compatible with the mission of NCTE" (National Council of Teachers of English, n.d., para. 5). Previous recipients of this award include Rudine Sims Bishop, Anne Haas Dyson, Ken and Yetta Goodman, Charlotte Huck, and Louise Rosenblatt. The 2017 recipients, Katherine and Randy Bomer, have served in many roles as literacy educators-teaching young readers and writers, teaching preservice teachers and graduate students in university courses, facilitating professional development, and writing to inform and enhance teachers' classroom practices. They met during their time at Teachers College, Columbia University, where they each received graduate degrees.

Katherine works with teachers and schools nationally and internationally as a literacy consultant, and Randy is dean of the College of Education at the University of North Texas. Along with numerous articles and chapters, Katherine and Randy have published several books that have impacted literacy teachers' classroom practices, such as Building Adolescent Literacy in Today's English Classrooms (R. Bomer, 2011), Hidden Gems: Naming and Teaching from the Brilliance in Every Student's Writing (K. Bomer, 2010), The Journey Is Everything: Teaching Essays That Students Want to Write for People Who Want to Read Them (K. Bomer, 2016), and Time for Meaning: Crafting Literate Lives in Middle and High School (R. Bomer, 1995). Together, Katherine and Randy wrote For a Better World: Reading and Writing for Social Action (2001).

Both Randy and Katherine have been active in NCTE, with Katherine serving as elementary representative-at-large on the Executive Committee from 2001-2004. Randy served as president from 2004-2005 and as chair of the committee responsible for writing and revising NCTE's Professional Knowledge about the Teaching of Writing. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Literacy Research Association.

Through their teaching, writing, and advocacy, the Bomers have urged literacy educators across grade levels to take a more critical eye toward unjust school systems, to engage students in meaningful writing and reading that draws on students' rich literate lives, and to live out principles of democracy in their classrooms. Their work has advanced the field of literacy education by demonstrating how capable young readers and writers are and how teachers can build on those capabilities. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to learn more about Katherine and Randy Bomer in the following interview.

Amber Warrington: What were some early influences on your work?

Katherine Bomer: My writing career began when I was an undergraduate studying creative writing with authors whose published work I had read. So writers were my first mentors. From these women and men, who spent their days hunched over books and typewriters, I learned how to look at texts as teachers, noticing how texts are made and how my writing voice might develop from bountiful amounts of reading and endless amounts of writing and rewriting. I continued to learn from writers after graduating, as I attempted to craft a life around my own projects and to find any work I could as a writer, from public relations to technical and grant writing. I'm still learning from writers, and that process of studying writers' work is one of the topics I write the most about.

My career in literacy education began when I took courses from Lucy Calkins in graduate school at Teachers College, Columbia University, and she invited me to come work with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. …

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