Professional Development

About our PRofessional Development

These interactive workshops are lead by internationally recognized experts in the field of literacy from Texas A&M as well as around the world.

Workshops are provided via zoom with the opportunity to earn CPE credits.

Science of Teaching Reading (STR)

The Science of Teaching Reading workshop series is offered each fall, spring, and summer semester for a $40/hour fee per session. Sessions are typically 4-hours and held via ZOOM. Specific dates will be announced as they come available.

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Topics Include:

  • Foundations of Structured Literacy: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics and Fluency
  • The Science of Spelling Evidence-Based Writing Instruction
  • Building Vocabulary and Morphology
  • The Knowledge Acquisition and Transformation (KAT) Strategy for Building Reading Comprehension
  • Assessment and Targeted Instruction
  • Dyslexia and Reading Difficulties
  • Literacy Instruction for English Learners
  • Transitioning from Balanced Literacy to the Science of Teaching Reading

Meet Some of our Literacy Experts

Emily Binks-Cantrell, Ph.D.

Clinical Associate Professor, Literacy Education, Texas A&M University

Emily Binks-Cantrell, Ph.D., teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in literacy and multicultural education, serves as the Advanced Literacy Studies Program Assistant Chair, and also serves as the Director of the Lohman Learning Community. Her research focus is teacher knowledge of and preparation in the science of teaching reading. She is on the Board of Directors for the Center for Effective Reading Instruction, serves on the Editorial Board of Annals of Dyslexia and Education Sciences, and has worked as a consultant for the International Dyslexia Association, the National Council on Teacher Quality, and Neuhaus Education Center. Dr. Cantrell has taught first and third grades in a small, rural district in Texas and also taught 3-5 year olds with autism. She has worked with a variety of struggling readers as a reading specialist and has also closely mentored new elementary teachers throughout Houston ISD in their teaching of reading. Prior to returning to A&M, Dr. Cantrell was an Assistant Professor and Research Coordinator at the University of Hull in England. Dr. Cantrell is a firm believer that teachers are the most powerful tool in the education system and is passionate about increasing the quality of preparation and support teachers receive in order to meet the diverse needs of their students.

Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan, Ph.D.

President, Valley Speech Language and Learning Center

Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan, Ph.D., is a bilingual speech language pathologist and a certified academic language therapist. She holds a doctorate degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She is the President of Valley Speech Language and Learning Center in Brownsville, Texas and is an Associate Research Professor for the Texas Institute for Measurement Evaluation and Statistics at the University of Houston. Elsa’s research interests include the development of early reading assessments for Spanish-speaking students in addition to the development of reading interventions for bilingual students. She was the co-principal investigator of a longitudinal study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Institute for Education Science, examining the oracy and literacy development in English and Spanish of Spanish-speaking children. Elsa currently serves as the Vice Chairperson of the International Dyslexia Association, Chairperson of the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities and was a past board member of the National Academic Language Therapy Association. She has authored curricular programs, book chapters, and journal articles related to oracy and literacy development for English language learners.

Suzanne Carreker, Ph.D., CALT.QI

Principal Educational Content Lead, Lexia Learning

Suzanne Carreker, Ph.D., CALT.QI, joined Lexia Learning in 2015 as Principal Educational Content Lead, where she spearheaded the curriculum design of a ground-breaking reading program for struggling adolescent readers now known as Lexia PowerUp Literacy. Her career includes 28 years at Neuhaus Education Center, a nonprofit organization in Houston, Texas, that has offered professional development in evidence-based reading methods to more than 60,000 teachers. Suzanne served as Senior Vice President of Innovative Solutions at Neuhaus. During her 10 years of service on the board of The International Dyslexia Association (IDA), she led the development of IDA’s teacher certification exam. Suzanne co-edited the fourth edition of Multisensory Teaching of Basic Language Skills with Judith Birsh and, in addition, contributed two chapters. She has authored several peer-reviewed journal articles, has written numerous literacy-related curricula, and is currently contributing a chapter in Fundamentals of Literacy Instruction and Assessment. In 2009, Suzanne was the recipient of the HBIDA Nancy LaFevers Community Service Award for her contributions to students with dyslexia and other related learning differences in the Houston community, and in 2018, was the recipient of the Margaret Byrd Rawson Lifetime Achievement Award from The International Dyslexia Association for her commitment to excellence and advocacy for people with dyslexia. She is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences.

R. Malatesha Joshi, Ph.D.

Professor, Literacy Education & Educational Psychology, Texas A&M University

R. Malatesha Joshi, Ph.D., is a Professor of Literacy Education and Educational Psychology at Texas A&M University, and the Editor of Reading and Writing and the monograph series Literacy Studies. He has over 125 publications in high-impact journals and has published 21 books relating to literacy development. He has received numerous national and international awards such as Erasmus Mundus fellowship and has been invited as a senior research scholar in various countries. Dr. Joshi also has received many state, federal, and international grants totaling more than 15 million dollars. Because of his research contribution, Dr. Joshi was selected as the 2017 Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), their highest award that exemplifies the highest standards of excellence. In 2019, he received the honorary award from the Association of Reading and Writing in Asia for ‘extraordinary contribution to understanding literacy around the world’. In 2020, he received the Samuel Torrey and Joan Orton award which recognizes a person or persons who have made a vital contribution to our scientific understanding of dyslexia. Dr. Joshi has also been selected as a Literacy Research Panel Honoree, International Literacy Association, 2019-2022.

Ramona Pittman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Literacy Education, Texas A&M University

Ramona T. Pittman, Ph.D., is a professor at Texas A&M University . She has seven years of PreK-12 teaching experience in Title 1 settings, and she has over 15 years of teacher preparation experience in literacy education teaching courses, such as early literacy, literacy assessment, and dyslexia and reading differences. Moreover, she has served as a content advisor for literacy exams focused on initial teacher certification. Additionally, she has presented professional development and developed curriculum for Neuhaus Education Center and has served as a university reviewer for the International Dyslexia Association. Dr. Pittman understands that science of teaching reading knowledge can create equitable learning experiences for all students. Dr. Pittman has published her research in numerous venues and has presented at several international, national, and regional conferences.

Debra McKeown, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Literacy Education, Texas A&M University

Dr. McKeown is an Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Culture at Texas A&M University. She received her doctorate in Special Education from Vanderbilt University where she trained under Drs. Karen Harris and Steve Graham. Dr. McKeown also has ten years of classroom teaching in various settings including charter, urban and international schools. She currently conducts intervention research in the area of writing. Most of her work focuses on impoverished urban settings where she works at both the teacher and student levels. She is currently co-PI on a federal grant to demonstrate the efficacy of a writing intervention combining teacher instruction and an intelligent tutor to improve writing outcomes for elementary aged children.

Kay Wijekumar, Ph.D.

Professor & Houston Endowed Chair, Literacy Education, Texas A&M University

Dr. Kay Wijekumar is Houston Endowed Chair in the School of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University. She also serves as the Director for the Center for Urban School Partnerships (CUSP). Dr. Wijekumar holds degrees in Electronic Engineering, Computer Science, and Instructional Technology and utilizes all those degrees to help children in our schools. She is a passionate advocate for strong evidence-based literacy education for all children and believes that all children are capable of learning to read and write proficiently. Her work focuses on developing and testing intelligent tutoring systems to support literacy education, providing teachers with strong professional development, and ensuring that teachers have the support of school leaders to implement evidence-based practices.