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Summer Speaker Series - Speaker Bios




Learn more about this year's speakers!



rla-summer-series-2022-poloroids-laminackLester L. Laminack is a writer and consultant working with schools throughout the United States. He is an active member of the National Council of Teachers of English and served three years as co-editor of the NCTE journal Primary Voices and as editor of the Children’s Book Review Department of the NCTE journal Language Arts (2003-2006).


Some of his publications include: Reading with Children (Literacy Volunteers of America), Spelling in Use (NCTE), The Writing Workshop: Working Through the Hard Parts (NCTE), Learning Under the Influence of Language and Literature (Heinemann), Unwrapping the Read Aloud (Scholastic), and many more.


Laminack has also authored several children’s books such as The Sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins (Peachtree Publishers), Jake’s 100th Day of School (Peachtree Publishers), and The King of Bees (Peachtree Publishers). Learn more and register for his June 7 session here.




Holly Durham is currently a Professional Learning Coordinator in Fort Bend ISD in Houston, Texas, but has assumed numerous roles in her 25+ years in education: English Teacher 6-12, Advanced Placement Coordinator, Interdisciplinary Instructional Coach, and Secondary Humanities Director, 6-12.


She is a co-author of the soon to published book, Patterns of Power: Teaching Grammar Through Reading and Writing for grades 9–12. Holly has also presented literacy and technology practices at district, regional, and national conferences throughout her career. She questioned Jeff Anderson, as to why there was not a Patterns of Power book for high school and the rest is history. Find her on Twitter @HollyDurham70.


Learn more and register for her June 9 presentation here.



rla-summer-series-2022-poloroids-sharpColby Sharp is a fifth grade teacher in Parma, Michigan. He and his wife have five children (Breslin, Dharia, Adelai, Hobbes, and Harvey). Helping kids find the books that help them fall in love with reading brings Mr. Sharp tremendous joy. He has been a classroom teacher since 2006. In 2011, he started the Nerdy Book Club blog with his friend Donalyn Miller. He co-hosts The Yarn podcast with Teacher Librarian Travis Jonker. He also serves on the Nerd Camp Michigan team. Nerd Camp is a free literacy event that takes place in Parma, Michigan each summer.


Learn more and register for his June 16 session here.






rla-summer-series-2022-poloroids-laroccaWhitney LaRocca is the co-author of the book Patterns of Power: Inviting Young Writers into the Conventions of Language, Grades 1-5 and the resource, Patterns of Power Plus for Grades 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. She is also the co-author with Jeff Anderson, on the much anticipated Patterns of Wonder: Inviting Emergent Writers to Play with the Conventions of Language (PreK-1).

With more than 20 years in education, Whitney has been a teacher, a literacy coach, and a consultant, working with children and teachers across grade levels, schools, and districts. With a deep knowledge of content, standards, and best practices, Whitney enjoys delivering professional development and coaching teachers to support children as they develop their identities in the world of literacy. She continues to learn from children each day. Find her on Twitter @whitney_larocca.


Learn more and register for one of her two sessions (both on June 23) here.



rla-summer-series-2022-poloroids-blevinsWiley Blevins is an author, educational consultant, and researcher. He completed his graduate work at Harvard Graduate School of Education He has taught both in the United States and South America. Wiley has written more than 16 books for teachers, including A Fresh Look at Phonics, Phonics from A to Z, and Meaningful Phonics and Word Study.


He has authored several phonics and reading programs and wrote the phonics brief for the International Literacy Association (Meeting the Challenges of Early Literacy Phonics Instruction). Wiley’s current focus is on adaptive technology, differentiated professional development, and children’s literature. Wiley has written more than 90 children’s books and is Associate Publisher at Reycraft Books, a new imprint focused on publishing books by authors and illustrators from under-represented groups.  Learn more and register for his June 30 session here.



rla-summer-series-2022-poloroids-alvaroMeredith Alvaro is a national consultant and staff developer located in theNY/NJ metro area. Alvaro previously served as the director of student teaching in the Elementary Inclusive Preservice Program at Teachers College Columbia University as well as held a tenured NYC public school teacher position at PS 116 in Manhattan’s former District 2.
Alvaro’s in-classroom coaching and practical workshops focus on developing strategies alongside teachers to help them successfully assess, instruct, differentiate, and adapt curriculum to support the developmental and learning needs of all students in powerful, teacher-friendly ways.


Learn more and register for one of her two sessions (on July 26 and 27) here.




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For more information about this series, e-mail



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