About Me

Hi! Thank you for taking the time to peruse my website. I grew up at the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center in the Cook County Forest Preserves of Illinois. I currently live in the Lisle/Naperville area with my husband Rick, my Golden Retriever, Marley, and kitten, Rue. I have two children - John (who is a Software Engineer and Web Developer) and Ashley (who is an Education Consultant for an insurance company). I love to visit my stepdaughter Roslyn (who is a doctor and the Director of a Child Psychiatry Unit) and her husband (Will) who currently live on the east coast in Portland, Maine. I also enjoy visiting my Mom who lives in the Northwood’s of Wisconsin.

I graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 1984 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing/Advertising. My first few years after graduating were spent as a Director of Marketing in the business industry. After the birth of my first child, John, I began using my talents in the fitness industry. Although I have managed various fitness center departments over the years, I have most enjoyed the time I have spent teaching a variety classes that have included infants, parents, senior citizens and my fellow instructors. During that time I gave birth to my second child, Ashley. Teaching in fitness centers, however, was part-time work, which allowed me to spend time at home with my children when they were younger. But, as my children got older, my thirst to make a difference in the life of another through my passion for teaching brought me back to school.

Lifelong Learner

I earned a Master of Arts in Elementary Education from Benedictine University (2009) and an endorsement to teach English as a Second Language from National Louis University (2008). In 2013, I was very excited to extend my professional development by completing my National Board Certification. In May of 2018, I earned my Doctorate of Education in Literacy at Judson University. While working on my doctorate, I also earned a Reading Teacher endorsement.

I hold memberships in such organizations as National Education Association, Literacy Research Association, National Council of Teachers of English, Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators, International Literacy Association, and I am Past President and 2014 Conference Chair of the Illinois Reading Council. Throughout my coursework, and by attending various seminars and actively participating in educational organizations, I have committed myself to excellence in education through lifelong learning.

Educator / Presenter / Consultant

I am passionate about literacy and about building literacy communities full of curious joyful learners. I have worked to share my passion in fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms by engaging learners, students, and their families with authentic literacy experiences. I have written numerous articles including a column in the IRC Journal. I have traveled both nationally and internationally (Ghana and Guatemala) to share my passion for literacy learning. My interests include the affective domain of reading; multicultural literacy; and social equity and justice. I build upon current research and theory to provide practical, realistic applications in today’s classrooms.

Photo Gallery

As you take a moment to peruse my photo gallery, you will notice a plethora of uniquely diverse experiences that demonstrate my passion for lifelong learning and my eagerness to be a catalyst for change by assuming leadership roles. I have intentionally sought out diverse learning and leadership experiences and worked diligently to develop a substantial breadth and depth of knowledge while simultaneously being humbled by all I have yet to learn. Thank you to all those who have guided and mentored me with their gift of friendship.

Presentation & Workshop Portfolio

I offer learning opportunities in multiple formats and am happy to work with you to meet your specific needs. The following presentations can be adjusted into various possible formats that include but are not limited to: keynote address; presentation; half-day, whole day, or multiple day workshops.

Leveling the Playing Field

Choice. The power of choice to enhance reader engagement cannot be underestimated. As educators, we also know that readers need to choose books that are a “good fit” in order to grow. What exactly is a “good fit” book? How do we effectively match readers with “good fit” books that empower growth, instead of marginalizing them? Transitional readers describe how classroom leveling practices impact their choice, reading identity, self-efficacy, and self-reported perceptions of growth. Are we creating independent, or dependent, lifelong readers?

Mind and Heart: Embedding Social Emotional Learning into Literacy Instruction

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” –Aristotle. The recent adoption of the social emotional learning (SEL) standards reminds teachers that there is a relevant need to educate the whole child. Although it may seem like another curriculum needs to be added to an already full school day, the SEL standards can be seamlessly addressed within any existing English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum. Tools, strategies, resources for integrating SEL standards into an ELA curriculum will be shared.

What If? The Power of Storytelling

What if – we play with the power of storytelling in the classroom? Humans are hard-wired to experience life through the tradition of telling stories. The oral storytelling tradition began as a mainstay of literacy education. Today, the power of storytelling is still relevant in our current literacy practices, not only to help students meet the demands of reading and writing instruction, but also to enhance speaking and listening skills. The simple act of playing with stories invites imagination, reflection, revision and “dancing” with ideas and language (Cordi, 2014). In this workshop, we are going to slow down and linger with our curiosity – to play with the art of storytelling. We will also explore how oral storytelling can benefit written personal narratives and improve reading fluency.

Would You Consider? The Extra Degree to Educational Professionalism

Private sector for profit market-based policies are being implemented in a public-sector institution—schools. This shift has distorted the nature of teaching as a profession and consequently the professional identities teachers assume, which are grounded in three concepts central to professionalism: knowledge, autonomy, and responsibility. Based on the book "212: The Extra Degree" by Sam Parker and Mac Anderson, and told through personal stories of service, attitude, kindness, leadership, commitment, focus, belief and perseverance, I hope to inspire and empower teachers to move from where there are to where they want to be. Explore with me the extra degree of change necessary to generate enough force to transform the field of education. A single degree can change everything. (This is a keynote speech delivered as part of my doctoral program.)

Keynote Presentation Video

A One-Room Schoolhouse: The Simplicity and The Complexity

Compare the simplicity of a one-room classroom to the complexity of today’s classroom by engaging in an historical analysis to identify implications for the modern classroom. Presentation will include: classroom activities used for evaluating quality literature; how to use storytelling to enhance narrative writing and present social studies from the lessons from multiple perspectives; the use of picture books and series books to support instruction; and exploring the use of multicultural and multimodal literature in today’s classroom.

Unlocking Perspectives

A culturally conscious and responsive education entails more than celebrating Black History Month or Cinco de Mayo. It requires not only access to a variety of texts, but also access to texts that reflect the reader. It requires engaging instruction that is not only culturally conscious, but also incorporates projects that move a community toward social justice. Participants will learn more about how to teach from the perspective of social equity and how to connect instruction with the community through a social justice project.

For more information, contact me at cggerwin@comcast.net