The Literacy Connection

A&M-SA (Volume 1: Issue 5)

April Was Poetry Month- Here's Faculty's Favorite Poem, Poet, or Poetry Literacy Practice:

Mother Goose Day

Date When Celebrated: Always on May 1

Mother Goose Day was created only recently, as a day to appreciate nursery rhymes and stories. They are a favorite of children and their parents.

The term "Mother Goose" dates back to the 1650's. It refered to stories like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty. It does not appear to represent a particular person, as many of "Mother Goose" stories were written both before and after this term was first used. And, the stories were written by numerous authors.

Enjoy "Mother Goose Day" by reading Mother Goose stories and rhymes to your children or grandchildren.

Origin of Mother Goose Day:

According to the Mother Goose Society: "Mother Goose Day was founded in 1987 by Gloria T. Delamar in tandem with the publication of her book, Mother Goose; From Nursery to Literature.


Date When Celebrated: Always on June 19th

Juneteenth day celebrates and symbolizes the end of slavery in the United States. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. It was not until June 19, 1865 that all slaves were finally freed. That concluding event was when General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas with his troops and issued Order Number 3 which finally freed the last of the slaves.

The formal end of slavery was marked by the passing of the 13th amendment of the constitution.

For a list of children's books about Juneteenth, visit .

June is Pride Month!

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In the United States the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as “Gay Pride Day,” but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the nation the “day” soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBT Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.

For a list of children's and young adult literature centered around LGBT identity, visit and

Outstanding Undergraduate Student

Clayton Jaskinia, from Poth, Texas, is working towards a degree in Special Education, EC-12 with a History concentration, 8-12. He is an outstanding student who in EDRG 3315 was always prepared and actively participated in class. Clayton’s work was thorough and he was a willing team member. He is committed to learning and has a mindset for success. In addition to his academics, Clayton is lead Jaguar Ambassador to the Office of the President, president of the National Society of Leadership and Success, president of the Council for Exceptional Children, president of the Student Council for Learning Disabilities, and a member of Kappa Delta Pi. When asked why he chose a career in teaching, Clayton states that he was inspired by many wonderful teachers. He says that he wants to help Special Education students so that no one will be ostracized. Clayton’s philosophy is: See the able, not the label. Clayton’s content knowledge and his passion for teaching will make him a superior educator.

Written by Ms. Jeanne Cantu

Graduate Student Spotlight

Mara Rubio is finishing her last semester towards a Master of Science degree in Reading. Mara is a member of San Antonio Independent School District's (SAISD) first cohort of three cohorts. Mara is certified as an Early Childhood through fourth grade (EC-4) teacher and is currently teaching first grade, Bilingual students at Japhet Elementary. Mara graduated from Brackenridge High School and received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Incarnate Word. In her spare time, she enjoys shopping, spending time with her family, and traveling. Her dream vacation would be a trip to Paris, France. Mara is married to Juan and has two girls, Hanna and Dahlia.

Alumnus Spotlight

Connie Ross is an alumna who graduated in 2016 and has been teaching elementary students at a private Christian school for the past two years. While life keeps her quietly busy as an educator and mother to three young children, she still finds time to volunteer in her community. You may see her feeding the homeless or assembling book packages for students in the SAReads program. Connie knows the importance of books and the power of reading. Her desire is not only to teach children HOW to read but to ensure that they HAVE access to books as well!

Written by Mary Kay Cooper, Director of Alumni Affairs

Little Libraries

On February 17th, graduate students (From L to R; Veronica Guerrero, Angel Prado, Summer Garrison, and Angela Votion) attended the Girls Scouts of Southwest Texas Troop 300-Little Free Libraries Tricentennial event at Cuellar Park. The event gave participants information on how to install the Little Free Libraries and information on how to become a steward for these libraries. The goal is to install 300 little free libraries in neighborhoods within San Antonio. Graduate students who attended the event are finding locations for these libraries so that families will have free access to literature within walking distance!

Submitted by Angela Votion, SAISD Cohort 1 Graduate Student, SAISD Gifted and Talented Teacher

Dr. Piper's The Academic Minute Debut

In March, Dr. Rebekah E. Piper was featured in The Academic Minute. Dr. Piper's discussion centered on children's literature and its impact on racial identity. The Academic Minute features researchers from colleges and universities around the world, keeping listeners abreast of what’s new and exciting in the academy and of all the ways academic research contributes to solving the world’s toughest problems and to serving the public good.

The Academic Minute is sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

To listen to Dr. Piper's discussion, click the following link: .

Congratulations, Dr. Piper!

Teaching Students How to Learn: Why This Matters in Higher Ed!

In April, Drs. Pittman, Piper, and Vice hosted Dr. Saundra McGuire, as part of the University Strategic Plan: Build. Impact. Transform. Grant. Dr. McGuire held a morning professional development session for faculty on teaching students to learn. She held a pizza luncheon for students on how they can teach themselves to learn, and an afternoon focused session for members of the faculty cohort selected to participate in additional professional development on teaching students how to learn.

Dr. Saundra Yancy McGuire is the Director Emerita of the Center for Academic Success and retired Assistant Vice Chancellor and Professor of Chemistry at LSU. Prior to joining LSU, she spent eleven years at Cornell University, where she received the coveted Clark Distinguished Teaching Award. She has delivered keynote addresses or presented workshops at over 400 institutions in 46 states and nine countries. Her book, Teach Students How to Learn: Strategies You Can Incorporate into Any Course to Improve Student Metacognition, Study Skills, and Motivation, was released in October 2015 and is a Stylus Publishing bestseller. The student version of this book, Teach Yourself How to Learn: Strategies You Can Use to Ace Any Course at Any Level, was released in January 2018.

Mrs. Mata's Undergraduate Reading Course Students Perform Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Mrs. Mata's preservice teachers performed Goldilocks and the Three Bears to students from Stewart Elementary (San Antonio Independent School District). The performance was part of the "Week of the Young Child".
The Week of the Young Child™ is an annual celebration hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) celebrating early learning, young children, their teachers, and families ( The week was planned by Drs. Jozwiak, Piper, and Krimbel.

PK-12 Public Education Forum

Drs. Pittman, Jozwiak, and Piper attended the San Antonio Regional PK-12 Public Education Forum presented by The Rivard Report at the Witte Museum, Mays Family Center in March. The focus of the 2018 forum was Early Childhood Development. The forum included a luncheon in which Dr. Steven Barnett, Founder/Director, National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University was the keynote speaker. Next, a panel discussion began with Robert Rivard from the Rivard Report, as the moderator. The panel included:

  • Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Director, Center of Health and Social Policy, LBJ School of Public Affairs - UT Austin
  • Kelsy Clark, Principal, Boston Consulting Group, Dallas
  • Dr. Alejandra Barraza, Principal, Carroll Early Childhood Education Center - SAISD
  • Dr. Sarah Baray, CEO, Pre-K 4 SA.

Dr. Pittman meets Astrophysicists and Best-Selling Author, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson visited the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts during the Spring Semester to discuss "Cosmic Collision". Neil deGrasse Tyson explained all the things that go bump in the night (and in the day). Dr. Tyson also discussed his latest, best selling book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.

Tyson is the fifth head of the world-renowned Hayden Planetarium in New York City and the first occupant of its Frederick P. Rose Directorship. He is also a research associate of the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. For more information on Dr. Tyson, visit

Hot Topics in Literacy Series (March)

On March 29, Dr. Myriam Jimena Guerra presented "Fostering Biliteracy Development with Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Literature" for the March Hot Topics in Literacy Series. The presentation focused how providing preservice teachers with strategies to incorporate culturally relevant pedagogy into their classrooms. The students were introduced to funds of knowledge (Moll et al, 1992) and how teachers should incorporate theirs students' home experiences and culture into their classrooms and practices. The preservice teachers learned how to use culturally relevant literature to plan instruction, as well.

Hot Topics in Literacy Series (April)

Dr. Tasha Vice presented "Enhancing Literacy Instruction with Metacognitive Strategies and Lessons on the Brain: Achieving Deeper Learning" during April's Hot Topics in Literacy. The presentation focused on ways educators can use lessons on the brain to help students learn, especially through the use of metacognitive strategies. Metacognitive strategies are those strategies that students can use to understand how they learn, which encourages them to "think about their thinking".

Hot Topics in Literacy Series (Summer Edition)

Dr. Emily Binks Cantrell, Clinical Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University-College Station, presented "Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice: Best Practices in Literacy Instruction" during a Summer Edition of Hot Topics in Literacy. The presentation focused on 10 myths that practitioners believe about reading instruction. Some myths include: relying heavily on context clues, teaching too many words as sight words, and inaccurate uses of readers. Dr. Cantrell provided the participants with ways to counteract these myths when they become teachers (preservice teachers). or while they are teaching (in-service teachers).

Dr. Piper Wins a Statewide Election

Dr. Piper recently won a statewide election to become the Secretary of the Texas Association of Literacy Educators (TALE). Her term begins in Fall 2018 and runs for two years. TALE is the Texas affiliate of the International Literacy Association (ILA), the largest literacy organization in the world. TALE's mission is to promote literacy that will enhance the lives of all Texas citizens personally, socially and economically.

Dr. Pittman Presents at UTSA

Dr. Pittman presented on African American English and Literacy at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Dr. Pittman served as UTSA's African American Visiting Scholar as part of the African American Studies program. Dr. Pittman presented a morning session geared towards students and keynoted a luncheon geared towards faculty. Afterwards, Dr. Pittman was presented with a plaque.

Student Research Symposium

The Reading Program's graduate students participated in the A&M-SA Student Research Symposium, which was held in May. The Reading Program had over 40 students to participate in the 4th annual research event. The students presented their research in the form of posters, roundtables, and oral presentations. The symposium was held May 4th and 5th.

Graduate Hooding Ceremony

The Graduate Hooding Ceremony was held on May 17th from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in the A&M-SA Auditorium. The Reading Program's graduates were able to walk across the stage and be hooded by their chosen professor, while their gratitudes were read aloud. For more pictures from the Hooding Ceremony, click the following link .

San Antonio Independent School District's Cohort I Graduates

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Spring Commencement

The Reading Program had 22 students to participate in the Spring Commencement, which was held at Freeman Coliseum on May 18th. The students who participated in the commencement were all pursuing a Master of Science in Reading degree. To access all of the graduation pictures, click the following link

Thank You, Cohort I

After graduation, San Antonio Independent School District's Cohort I presented each of the Reading Program faculty with a beautiful acrylic trophy as a gesture of "thank you". From the faculty, we appreciate your thoughtfulness and generosity!

Spring 2018 Professional Development Recap

Reading Program Orientation

If you began the Reading graduate program this summer, the Reading Program will have an Orientation during the first few weeks of the Fall semester. More details will follow during the first few weeks of the Fall semester.

Drs. Piper, Vice, and Pittman Publish on Using Multicultural Children's Literature

Drs. Piper, Vice, and Pittman published, "Using Multicultural Children's Literature to Address Social Issues: The Power of Interactive Read Aloud" in Read: An Online Journal for Literacy Educators. The article sought to address usage of interactive, multicultural read alouds, as a means to help bridge the students who need inclusive and equitable pedagogical practices in race, gender, and ability identity and those who need to understand those who identify as one or more of the aforementioned. The article can be accessed at

International Literacy Association's Annual Convention

The International Literacy Association's Annual Convention will be held July 20-23 in Austin, TX. To find out more information about the conference and/or to register for the conference, visit

Drs. Pittman, Vice, and Piper will be presenting, When Do I Have Time to Provide Effective Feedback to Teachers?: Video-Coaching as a Change Agent for Literacy Coaches, July 22 (Sunday).

We look forward to seeing you!

Jag Literacy Conference -SAVE the DATE!

Wednesday, Oct. 3rd, 3:30pm to Saturday, Oct. 6th, 5pm

One University Way

San Antonio, TX

As part of the University's Strategic Plan Grant, the Reading Program faculty, under the guidance of Dr. Tasha Vice, will host its first Literacy Conference. Please save the date! More details to come!

Dr. Pittman to Attend the HERS - Leadership Training Institute for Women in Higher Ed

For two weeks in July, Dr. Pittman will be attending the HERS Leadership Training Institute for Women in Higher Ed at Bryn Mawr (Pennsylvania). The HERS Institute is one of the most compelling leadership development opportunities in higher education. For more information, visit

Reading Program Faculty

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For questions, comments, or concerns, please contact the Editor, Ramona T. Pittman.

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