As past Director of the National Capital Centre for Literacy Research, Director of U-CAN READ, and Associate Professor (Language and Literacy), my goal has always been to find a way to support struggling readers achieve success. In addition, my aim has been to build a network of advocates who are well-positioned to support struggling readers from the early years through to adulthood. This network consists of teachers, parents, and significant others who have opportunities to make a difference in a reader's life.
My interest in reading began as an undergraduate with the desire to help a fourteen year old struggling reader. His success and resultant confidence paved the way for the many hundreds of struggling readers with whom I have successfully worked in pre schools, schools, adult education settings, jails, and juvenile justice. My work in educating parents about literacy is significant in assisting struggling readers.
Since completing two Masters Degrees in Education (majoring in literacy learning) and a PhD from Indiana University, I have taught undergraduate and graduate courses in literacy for approximately twenty years in the following capacities: Visiting Professor at the University of Kentucky and James Madison University (US) and lecturer/senior lecturer/Associate Dean at UWS Nepean and Associate Professor, Literacy at University of Canberra. My experience and qualifications extend from preschool to adulthood. I have published numerous articles and three books (one edited) and contributed many chapters to literacy publications. I have been the Editor of Language and Literacy: The Middle Years (ALEA).
While an academic at UWS, I was actively involved in professional associations in literacy. I was Chair of the Australian Literacy Federation and a board member of Primary English Teachers Association (PETA) for five years. I have served on the state executive for the Australian Literacy Educators Association and was a member of Pacific Circle Consortium.
I have conducted literacy in-service programs and workshops both in Australia and internationally (USA, Fiji and the Cook Islands). In Kentucky, I was Director of the Kentucky Adult Educator’s Literacy Institute and a founding member of the team that designed and implemented this state-wide initiative. As an academic, I present at national and international conferences on a regular basis.
I have a particular interest in adult learning and have designed online programs for low level literacy learners in Kentucky and the Northern Territory. These innovative programs endorse the best of literacy practices and make the most of multi-technologies including voice recognition, screen readers, interactive activities and video. I have worked with businesses, corporations, and state authorities to audit and improve workplace literacy practices.
I have been the Principal Investigator and Co-principal Investigator of literacy projects of national significance both in the USA and Australia. I was Principal Investigator for the state of Kentucky for the federally-funded Reading First Grant (Kentucky received $89 million U.S. to improve literacy outcomes for children in Grades K-3). I was responsible for creating, managing and implementing the state evaluation plan. The evaluation was funded in excess of $1.5 million U.S. per year for 6 years. I established and supervised a team of eight researchers. The research evaluation included more than 2000 teachers and 174 schools.
Additionally, during my time in Kentucky, I was Principal Investigator of the Early Reading Incentive Grants (Kentucky schools in low socio-economic areas receive approximately $9 million U.S. dollars to implement reading intervention programs.) I also completed evaluations in three counties for 'Reading Recovery'. These results were published and reported to State Legislators.
For the Council on Post Secondary Education and The Kentucky Virtual University, I designed Read on the Web – an online curriculum for illiterate adults. As Senior Research Fellow at Charles Darwin University, I evaluated literacy interventions in the Northern Territory. I was the subject expert for Read English on the Web. This online literacy program was designed for Indigenous learners and used multiple technologies. I worked with Batchelor Indigenous Institute of Tertiary Education and NT Libraries to create a website for Indigenous parents to help their children with reading and writing.
As Director/Co ordinator of U-CAN READ: Literacy Intervention Years 3-10 for five years, I worked closely with ACT education departments and schools to improve literacy outcomes for students from preschool to adulthood. The Literacy Centre, located at the University of Canberra, offerred a range of parent education programs including Boys, blokes and books (for boys and their dads); Nudge and Nurture (for Preschool-Year 2 parents) and U-CAN READ (for parents of struggling readers). I was also responsible for additional literacy programs that targetted disengaged and disinterested secondary students in ACT schools and beyond. My work and literacy research extended into other settings including juvenile justice and Indigenous communities.