16 RCOE Students Selected as Literacy Scholars

Appalachian State University’s Reich College of Education (RCOE) has been selected by the UNC System to serve as a Literacy Innovation Leader (LIL). The LIL initiative is designed to create synergy between higher education and K-12 schools to address the continuum of educator preparation and development with the common goal of improving students’ reading achievement.

“This is an opportunity for us to serve as a model for literacy excellence and innovation, as well as a leader in the state’s efforts,” said RCOE Dean Dr. Melba Spooner. “We are so proud of our student education leaders engaging in this initiative!”

“This is an opportunity for us to serve as a model for literacy excellence and innovation, as well as a leader in the state’s efforts,” said RCOE Dean Dr. Melba Spooner. “We are so proud of our student education leaders engaging in this initiative!”

Group photo of literacy scholarsThe 16 Literacy Scholars at the initial meeting. 

The two-year process for the LIL program includes identifying 16 Literacy Scholars, who are undergraduate elementary education and special education teacher candidates. Literacy Scholars will 

  • Engage in workshops held four times per year; 
  • Serve on RCOE Program Advisory Teams, where they will help shape the future of teacher education; 
  • Participate in a mentorship program with an in-service educator from Wilkes County Schools or App State’s Academy at Middle Fork; and 
  • Complete the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) training alongside in-service educators.

“Participation in this project will set these students apart as high-quality candidates when they begin to search for their first teaching position,” said RCOE Assistant Dean Dr. Hannah Reeder and LIL Principal Investigator. “They will be receiving the same training current teachers across the state are taking.” 

“Participation in this project will set these students apart as high-quality candidates when they begin to search for their first teaching position,” said RCOE Assistant Dean Dr. Hannah Reeder and LIL Principal Investigator.

“Likewise, the mentorship program will provide participants with networking connections as well as on-the-ground practical experiences and advice which is sure to benefit their future teaching,” she added.

Dr. Rebecca Jordan, assistant professor in the Department of Reading Education and Special Education and LIL Coordinator, praised the students for taking the initiative to apply for a rigorous one-of-a-kind program early in their educational careers. 

“Our Literacy Scholars are phenomenal,” she shared. “They represent a diverse group of future educators who will make a meaningful difference in the lives of the students they teach. Not only will they serve their future students well, but also their entire community as they lead their schools and communities.”

Meet the Literacy Scholars 

Alexus Adamiak

Alexis Adamiak

Alexus Adamiak, from Granite Falls, North Carolina, is majoring in elementary education and is anticipated to graduate in December 2023. 

Why App State and why your major? 

“I knew that App State was a great university to attend to pursue elementary education. I chose to pursue elementary education because, during difficulties in my life, my teachers always went above and beyond to be there for me academically and personally. I want to be that for my future students. I have a genuine love for learning and working with children.”

What do you hope to gain by being part of the Literacy Scholars program?

“I hope to elevate my teaching in a way that can impact all students no matter where they are.”

What is your favorite book (or series) and/or author?

“I really love The Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne. Although it is a children’s series, Jack and Annie’s adventures still interest me. It inadvertently teaches me small bits about different places and time periods that I may not have known about.”

What is your "teachosophy"?

“Every child deserves a quality education and a teacher who cares. No matter their background they can accomplish great things.”

Melanie Andrion

Melanie Andion

Melanie Andrion, from Largo, Florida, is majoring in elementary education and is anticipated to graduate in December 2023.

Why App State and why your major? 

“I chose App State because out of the colleges I looked at this had the best education program. As for my major, I want to help children build the fundamental building blocks to be successful in the future.”

What do you hope to gain by being part of the Literacy Scholars program?

“I hope to gain more understanding about the fundamentals of reading. With the knowledge that this program will provide, I can help the students in my future classroom even more than without it. It will help me further my goal of giving students the fundamentals to be successful.”

What is your favorite book (or series) and/or author?

“My favorite book series is the Splintered trilogy by A.G. Howard, and my favorite author is Sarah Dessen.”

What is your "teachosophy"?

“Each and every student has a right to feel comfortable, safe, and be themselves in a classroom. With that in mind, they deserve a chance at success no matter who they are or identify as.”

Summer Bailey

Summer Bailey

Summer Bailey, from Gaffney, South Carolina, is majoring in elementary education and is anticipated to graduate in May 2023.

Why App State and why your major?

“I decided to attend App State because of the education program offered here, the medium-sized campus, and the cold weather.” 

What do you hope to gain by being part of the Literacy Scholars program?

“I hope to gain more knowledge on literacy taught in an elementary classroom, as well as learning from my mentor. I look forward to taking this knowledge and incorporating it into my future classroom.”

What is your favorite book (or series) and/or author?

“My favorite book is Sisters' Entrance by Emtithal Mahmoud.”

What is your "teachosophy"?

“Rita Pierson said, ‘Every child deserves a champion; an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be.’ I strongly believe that teachers should be that champion for every student in their classroom.”

Kayla Bare

Kayla Bare

Kayla Bare, from West Jefferson, North Carolina, is majoring in elementary education and is anticipated to graduate in December 2023.

Why App State and why your major? 

“Most of my teachers graduated from App State, and they inspired me to follow in their footsteps. I’ve always lived in the mountains, so I decided to go to college close to home. I’m majoring in elementary education because I want to make a difference in the lives of students. Every day I want my students to know they are loved and valued.”

What do you hope to gain by being part of the Literacy Scholars program?

“As a Literacy Scholar, I hope to gain knowledge and skills to help all students become strong readers. Reading is the foundation of all subjects. I want to help all students excel in whatever they do.”

What is your favorite book (or series) and/or author?

“My favorite book is Wishtree by Katherine Applegate!”

What is your "teachosophy"?

“Love first, teach second.”

Riley Barnes

Riley Barnes

Riley Barnes, from Clayton, North Carolina, is majoring in elementary education and is anticipated to graduate in December 2022.

Why App State and why your major? 

“App State is truly a home away from home. I love the natural elements of our location and how much of a community the RCOE is. My passion for education grew at the kitchen table from hearing stories of my mother's own classroom. I believe in fostering natural curiosity in all children to create a genuine love for learning. I feel it's the best way I can give back to my community.”

What do you hope to gain by being part of the Literacy Scholars program?

“I hope to gain the tools I need to ignite a passion for reading in my future students!”

What is your favorite book (or series) and/or author?

“The Wrong Way to Save Your Life by Meagan Stielstra.”

What is your "teachosophy"?

“‘Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.’ - Colleen Wilcox”

Rebecca Bretzke

Rebecca Bretzke

Rebecca Bretzke, from Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, is majoring in elementary education and is anticipated to graduate in December 2023.

Why App State and why your major? 

“Ever since I was in third grade, I have wanted to be a teacher. When my classmates and I were asked to read books to the kindergarten class I was ecstatic. I have always loved children and being able to work with them. The group of children I was assigned to was laughing, asking questions, and overall, very engaged. I left with such a big smile on my face and all I could think was ‘I want to be able to do activities like this every day, I want to be a teacher.’ In eighth grade, we had to do an assignment in English choosing a college for our intended major. That is when I found App State and fell in love with the area and program.”

What do you hope to gain by being part of the Literacy Scholars program?

“Literacy is one of the hardest subject areas to teach so being equipped with extra resources on how to efficiently teach it will help not only me but my students as well. I hope to be a part of the teaching generation that exponentially increases literacy among children.”

What is your favorite book (or series) and/or author?

“There's a Wocket in my Pocket by Dr. Seuss. It was the book I read to the kindergarteners.”

What is your "teachosophy"?

“All students are unique and will be met with an all-inclusive and nurturing environment conducive to their mental, physical, emotional, and social growth.”

Madison Dever

Madison Dever

Madison Dever, from Charlotte, North Carolina, is majoring in elementary education and is anticipated to graduate in May 2023. 

Why App State and why your major? 

“I used to always visit Boone with my parents when I was younger, it has always felt like a place for me and I love all the outdoor activities that it has to offer. I also loved that they had a really great education department. I chose elementary education because I love watching kids become excited about learning, especially at a young age they are so eager to learn new things.”

What do you hope to gain by being part of the Literacy Scholars program?

“I am excited to learn more about how I can better support my future students. I also am eager to create new connections among current teachers as well as administrators who can help me on my journey to finding the right school for me.”

What is your favorite book (or series) and/or author?

“My favorite children's book author is Oliver Jeffers.”

What is your "teachosophy"?

“I want to teach to help students fall in love with learning and remind them that they are capable of anything they set their mind to.”

Madison Goodwin

Madison Goodwin

Madison Goodwin, from Raleigh, North Carolina, is majoring in elementary education and is anticipated to graduate in December 2023.

Why App State and why your major? 

“I chose App State because we are FIRST for teaching and that prioritization excited me as a future educator! My enrollment in the education field is because of my belief that young people can be encouraged, supported, and inspired to be the next generation of leaders, starting with elementary school. Establishing positive relationships with adults and peers in a safe environment such as school can make or break the overall development of a student into a high functioning adult. I believe that teachers have the power to inspire and lead by sharing the space with their students to inspire and lead others.”

What do you hope to gain by being part of the Literacy Scholars program?

“Preparing myself as a future educator is paramount. I believe that being part of this project will help me to be a more prepared, knowledgeable, and thoughtful educator when I enter the classroom. I am dedicated to a lifelong pursuit of learning and this program represents that journey by providing pre-service and active-service teachers the opportunity to grow in their understanding of the profession as it relates to teaching reading and writing.”

What is your favorite book (or series) and/or author?

“To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It was the book that made me want to teach because my cousin took the time to read and teach it to me one summer before he went to college.”

What is your "teachosophy"?

“Teach them so they may grow into lifelong learners who are passionate about knowledge and always seeking to expand their curiosity.”

Kristen Jones

Kristen Jones

Kristen Jones, from Fuquay Varina, North Carolina, is majoring in elementary education and is anticipated to graduate in May 2023.

Why App State and why your major? 

“I chose App State because I love the mountains and for the teaching program! I chose elementary education as my major because I have always loved working with kids and want to make an impact on as many children as I can.”

What do you hope to gain by being part of the Literacy Scholars program?

“I hope to gain a better understanding of how literacy works and how we can teach students so they will be successful in their academic careers. I am also super excited to work with a mentor teacher and learn from their experiences in the classroom and participate in workshops to help with the literacy program. I am so thankful for this opportunity and am so excited to start learning all about literacy!”

What is your favorite book (or series) and/or author?

“The Selection series by Kiera Cass.”

What is your "teachosophy"?

“I want to help students create a hands-on environment and be a teacher that is excited about learning. I hope to give my students many opportunities to grow and learn and build the foundation of their learning, so they will be successful in any future endeavor.”

Ashley McMurray

Ashley McMurray

Ashley McMurray, from Washington, Illinois, is majoring in elementary education and is anticipated to graduate in December 2023.

Why App State and why your major? 

“App State was the most beautiful campus I had been on, and it felt like home the moment I stepped on campus. I chose elementary education because I love working with kids and hope to make a difference in their educational journey.”

What do you hope to gain by being part of the Literacy Scholars program?

“I hope this program will provide supplementary experience and insight from mentors and educators. It will be a great opportunity to further prepare myself to effectively teach my future students.”

What is your favorite book (or series) and/or author?

“My favorite book is The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.”

What is your "teachosophy"?

“The classroom is a welcoming environment, where my students feel comfortable and free to grow and learn.”

Jillian Parrish

Jillian Parrish, from Hickory, North Carolina, is majoring in special education and is anticipated to graduate in May 2023.

Why App State and why your major? 

“App State was desirable to me because of the beautiful nature, the close proximity to home, the great education program, and the people. I chose special education because I want to inspire students to grow who may have been overlooked in the past. I have always been the ‘helper’ type of personality and I knew teaching would give me an opportunity to serve others and make the future generations of humanity better.”

What do you hope to gain by being part of the Literacy Scholars program?

“I hope to gain innovative knowledge about the English language and reading. As I do this, it will prepare me to purposely teach literacy to elementary students.”

What is your favorite book (or series) and/or author?

“My favorite books are the non-fiction books, specifically those by Torey Hayden. These books are about her experiences working with students with special needs.”

What is your "teachosophy"?

“BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS! I'm a strong believer that an important factor in having a successful classroom is having strong relationships with your students. Students won't want to learn if they don't trust you, don't like you, and think that you don't care. At the beginning of every year, I want to mold strong relationships with my students and let that build throughout the school year, as well as when they get older.”

Samantha Roberts

Samantha Roberts

Samantha Roberts, from Mebane, North Carolina, is majoring in elementary education and is anticipated to graduate in May 2024. 

Why App State and why your major? 

“The reason I chose App State is because of the great educational opportunities and the beautiful campus. The reason I want to pursue elementary education is that I want to help kids learn and have wanted to be a teacher since I was a kid myself.”

What do you hope to gain by being part of the Literacy Scholars program?

“I hope to gain information to help me become a better teacher and ensure that I help students learn the information they need to succeed through school.”

What is your favorite book (or series) and/or author?

“My favorite book series so far is The Selection series by Kiera Cass.”

What is your "teachosophy"?

“John Quincy Adams said, ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.’ I want to incorporate this in my classroom to encourage students to become leaders while also learning from the quote to be inspired to be a good teacher.”

Jenna Sager

Jenna Sager

Jenna Sager, from Charlotte, North Carolina, is majoring in elementary education and is anticipated to graduate in May 2023.

Why App State and why your major? 

“When I stepped on campus for the first time, I felt at home. I want to take part in the education of our world's future - students - and the beautiful mountains were the perfect place to start that journey. The elementary education program here at App State is highly regarded and during my time here, I've experienced nothing less.”

What do you hope to gain by being part of the Literacy Scholars program?

“What I hope to gain from being part of the Literacy Scholar program is the proper training and knowledge for the benefit of my students and myself. I know I will be able to gain tools to teach the English language through reading and writing, starting with word and language comprehension to assist my students in achieving the goal of reading comprehension.”

What is your favorite book (or series) and/or author?

“Eric Carle. His illustrations are visually pleasing with his concern for shape, color, and texture.”

What is your "teachosophy"?

“To form a relationship with each child, assisting them in becoming kind and compassionate members of the classroom and societal community. I want to advocate for my students in all aspects, especially when it comes to their learning.”

Alondra Salinas

Alondra Salinas

Alondra Salinas, from Charlotte, North Carolina, is majoring in elementary education and is anticipated to graduate in May 2023.

Why App State and why your major? 

“App State has a great teacher education program. After all, it is FIRST for teaching. I fell in love with teaching through the JROTC program in my high school. We had partnered with Junior Achievement for our Community service project, we had the opportunity to teach kindergarten through second grade. As soon as I stepped into the classroom I fell in love with teaching.”

What do you hope to gain by being part of the Literacy Scholars program?

“I hope to learn as much as I can from my mentor, take in all the advice given to become a better and confident teacher stepping into my future classroom.”

What is your favorite book (or series) and/or author?

“The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister.”

What is your "teachosophy"?

“‘Just go with the flow.’ Not everything is going to go as planned and it's important to keep an open mind.”

Isabelle Trew

Isabelle Trew

Isabelle Trew, from Boone, North Carolina, is majoring in elementary education and is anticipated to graduate in May 2023.

Why App State and why your major? 

“I chose to come to App State because of their incredible teacher education program. I feel so supported here and appreciate that I am getting the education I need to excel in my future job. I have always loved working with kids and so I chose elementary education because I am excited about being a supportive figure for my future students and being able to offer them a more diverse and inclusive curriculum.”

What do you hope to gain by being part of the Literacy Scholars program?

“I hope to gain the skills and knowledge I need to become the best possible reading teacher. I want to help kids to get passionate about reading and find ways we can use literature to foster acceptance in our classrooms. I believe the Literacy Scholars program will help me learn how to teach reading most effectively.”

What is your favorite book (or series) and/or author?

“My favorite book series growing up was the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, and I still love to go back to it. It brings me so much comfort and nostalgia.”

What is your "teachosophy"?

“I believe at the base of teaching is a personal connection and trust between the teacher and student. I think that is the first and one of the most important steps of being an effective teacher is fostering that connection and being a loving and supportive presence in your students’ lives.”

Jasmine Wiley

Jasmine Wiley

Jasmine Wiley, from Hickory, North Carolina, is majoring in special education and is anticipated to graduate in May 2023.

Why App State and why your major? 

“After a field trip in middle school, I knew that App State was where I wanted to go. I fell in love with the campus and the overall feeling that it gave me. I chose to major in special education because after working with children and adults with disabilities in my community, I recognize the need that there is for great teachers.”

What do you hope to gain by being part of the Literacy Scholars program?

“I hope that I gain a greater ability to teach students who struggle with reading.”

What is your favorite book (or series) and/or author?

“Malcolm Gladwell.”

What is your "teachosophy"?

“All students can learn and want to learn. It is up to me to give them the instruction and the support to get there.”


Group photo of literacy scholars
Published: Oct 29, 2021 10:10am

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