Reading, Teaching, and Learning with the 4th Annual Literacy Leaders Conference

(THE PICKET)-Shepherd University will be hosting the 4th Annual Literacy Leaders Conference  on April 9 in conjunction with the Jefferson County Reading Council.  This event focused on education, reading writing and literacy was first done in spring 2012 when Dr. LeAnn Johnson was asked to be the liaison between the Shepherd University Department of Education and the Jefferson County Reading Council.

“As I became active in this group, their officers (all teachers or retired teachers) shared their dream of collaborating with Shepherd to provide an opportunity for area teachers to network and learn more about literacy,” Johnson said.  “Literacy is a big deal in our local education this conference helps in a big way.”

The state hosts a similar event each fall in White Sulphur Springs but taking days off work, distance, and cost prohibit most teachers from being able to attend.

“West Virginia’s literacy rates are among the lowest in the nation and so giving teachers this opportunity for professional development and supplementing the education of our teacher candidates with more advanced learning opportunities is extremely important to the governor’s charge to improve the quality of literacy teaching,” Johnson said. “We are proud that we have been able to run this event each spring and that we have had more than 150 participants each time.  I don’t believe any other university in the state or in the quad state region has attempted such a thing. Most conferences of this nature cost approximately $100 per day to register (even for presenters) which doesn’t include any ancillary costs such as travel, hotel, and food.  We have been able to provide this one day conference for only $20 which includes lunch.”

In addition to giving support and development to teachers in the state and community the conference also gives Shepherd students opportunities for involvement as future educators. Such as Victoria Bowers one of Johnson’s students. Bowers presented a poster project in Johnson’s Education 443 class that has larger application potential.

“She encouraged me to present my poster and PowerPoint during the poster presentation at the conference,” Bowers said. “My project was on the benefit of using hashtags as a closing activity to assess student learning. Due to the students synthesizing a hashtag from the information they have learned, the students have to have a base knowledge of the information that was taught.”

Bowers said that as a result of her presentation, she was invited to present her idea at the West Virginia Reading Association Conference this past November.

Jessica Sharpless is a Staff reporter for The Picket and can be reached via email at

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