BLTN Awards and Announcements

May 28th, 2021 | By | Category: BLTN Teachers, Spring 2021

Andover Bread Loaf youth, Jiberly Sandoval and Faith Omosefe, were featured in an “Youth Leaders Unlocking Justice: 100 Years of Advocacy in Lawrence, MA,” an Aspen Institute webinar held December 8. They spoke about their experiences as writers, youth activists, and writing leaders within the Lawrence, MA collective. The webinar is part of the Aspen Institute’s Criminal Justice Reform Initiative led by BLTN’s Doug Wood. 

Professor Damián Baca’s Rhetorics Elsewhere and Otherwise: Contested Modernities, Decolonial Visions (NCTE 2019) (edited with Romeo García) was awarded the Conference on College Composition & Communication (CCCC)’s Outstanding 2020 Book Award. Congratulations to Professor Baca, who continues to inspire and shape the work of BLTN teachers.

BLTN NextGen – La Casa Roja and Diné College, under the leadership of Dr. Ceci Lewis (MA ‘99) and Rex Lee Jim (MA’ 01, MLitt ’19 ), were awarded a grant from the Spencer Foundation (June, 2020) for “Interview-Based Psychosocial Support/Storytelling Program for Covid-19 in Rural Navajo Nation”, a project in which they are recording stories of resilience and survival among Navajo people. 

Professor David (Wandera) Bwire (MA ‘08, MLitt ‘13) was chosen as 2021 commencement speaker by the senior class council of the College of New Jersey. (David’s speech begins at the 18:24 mark of this recording. )

Lorena German (MA ‘14) will serve as a facilitator for Heinemann’s Institute for Racial Equity in Literacy (IREL) program this summer. In October, Lorena published “I Am Every Good Thing: An Antiracist Counternarrative” on the NCTE Blog. Lorena is also featured in “How These 6 Educators Are Integrating Antiracist Education Into Their Classrooms” in the entertainment and lifestyle website, HelloGiggles.

On February 3, Gladys Gitau-Damaskos moderated the Lawrence Public Library’s Social Justice Series discussion with author and activist Angela Davis, who spoke on the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial, and gender justice. Gitau, a BLTN Fellow and teacher at Phoenix Charter Academy in Lawrence, was among three moderators for the evening. Gladys commented, “Speaking with Dr. Angela Davis was the dream of a lifetime….The best part was that nearly 600 people, including Dr. Davis, got to see Lawrence the way I see it: as a city full of bright minds eager to step into a more righteous future.” 

Kayla Hostetler, English Teacher at Aiken High School in South Carolina, and Jamon Dubose, BLTN NextGen Youth Ambassador, have collaborated to publish “We Be Family,” a chapter on building communities that feel like family. The chapter is in We Be Lovin’ Black Children: Learning to Be Literate about the African Diaspora (Myers Education Press, 2021). All proceeds from the book go to the Center for the Education and Equity of African American Students. See our interview with Kayla and Jamon in this issue. )

Lauren Jewett’s article “How to Plan Online Lessons with Universal Design for Learning (UDL)” (July 2020) was published by and ASCD In-Service published:  “Serving Kids with Disabilities in Remote Learning: Three Key Strategies” (Sept. 4, 2020). Lauren was the featured teacher for October in Tulane University’s Afterclass program newsletter.  Citing an impressive list of media engagements, Lauren commented that taking stock of these moments reminders her “how much incredible and sometimes unseen work beyond the classroom walls that we all do as educators.”

Ceci Lewis (MA ‘99), Bread Loaf Teacher Network Associate Director, announced her retirement this fall. Below are remarks from Beverly Moss, BLTN Director, published in our September newsletter. 

For the past three years, I have had the honor and pleasure to work with Dr. Ceci Lewis in her role as the Associate Director of the Bread Loaf Teacher Network. Her commitment to BLTN began with her accepting a DeWitt-Wallace Reader’s Digest Fellowship to attend the Bread Loaf School of English in 1996 and becoming a member of the Bread Loaf Rural Teacher Network and has continued to the present. As Associate Director of BLTN, Ceci has brought her passion for social justice, her keen intellect, incredible organization skills, and pedagogical genius to BLTN’s fellows and to our administrative team.

In May 2020, Ceci retired from her position as faculty member and chair in the Department of English at Cochise Community College. And now, she is stepping down as Associate Director of BLTN. Her last day was August 31st.  While I am sad to see her leave this position (I’m still trying to imagine life without her in the BLTN office), I am pleased that she will continue her work with La Casa Roja in the BLTN Next Generation Youth Network. Please join me in thanking Ceci for all that she has given to BLTN.  As she reminds us in her letter to BLTN, she is not leaving us.  Let’s hold her to that.

-Beverly J. Moss 

NCTE President, BLTN Advocate and Ally, and Alfredo Lujan (MA ‘87; MLitt ‘18) not only chaired !Confluencia! the 2020 NCTE Annual Convention, and not only reserved a place for BLTN NextGen youth to showcase their artistry, but he and NCTE won the Virtual Events Institute (VEI) 2021 Virtual and Hybrid Event Award in the Association Events category. Read more about the award here. Alfredo, who teaches at Monte del Sol Charter School in Santa Fe, was also featured in  this February piece on building school community in K-12 Dive.

Professor Andrea Lunsford published Let’s Talk: A Pocket Rhetoric (Norton, 2020) Andrea shared and she gifted a copy to each member of the NextGen Youth Advisory Board who is a high school senior or undergraduate. Andrea also shared her “Fall Reading on Linguistic Justice” journey via Macmillan Learning Bits Blog

Christopher McCurry (MA ‘16) was recognized as the Kentucky English Teacher of the Year for 2021-2022. He headlines the October, 2020 issue of with “2021 Kentucky High School Teacher of the Year Christopher McCurry Uses Poetry as an Outlet for Students”.

Bread Loaf Teacher Network Director Beverly Moss received the 2021 Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) Exemplar Award. The award recognizes Beverly’s scholarship, teaching, and service to the profession, as it honors “individuals whose record is national and international in scope, or whose record is local and regional with national implications, and who set the best examples for the CCCC membership.” We encourage you to read more about Beverly’s scholarship and leadership at .

Faith Omosefe of Andover Bread Loaf and BLTN Lawrence, recently released  16,” a poem, a video, and a public service announcement intended to encourage mask wearing in her community. Faith is a youth advisor to BLTN NextGen and a member of the ABL-NextGen Health Alliance, led by Jackie Schierembergg. (See Jackie’s piece on the initiative in this issue.) The Alliance is working on the next Covid-related PSA, featuring the work of elementary school writers, artists, and influencers. 

Fall River, MA teacher Kurt Ostrow published “A Field Trip to the Future: Helping Students Imagine a Better World” in Rethinking Schools. Kurt chronicles his teaching using Franny Choi’s “Field Trip to the Museum of Human History” as part of a creative writing unit he calls “Another World Is Possible”.  Kurt notes that Choi also has her own teaching guide on her website. See links to several of Kurt’s other publications this year in BLTN: Changing Lives and Changing Systems.

Lillian Reeves (MA ’07) became a trustee of the Write to Change Foundation, serving with Betty Bailey (MA ’74) and Sara June Goldstein, C.E.O. Founded in 1994 by Dixie Goswami and Rocky Gooch, Write to Change “seeks to raise public awareness and influence policy and practice by supporting young people with limited resources, their mentors, and networks. The perspectives, knowledge, skills, and insights of such youth are essential assets for achieving a more equitable society.”

What’s the Story? Vermont Co-Director and BLRTN fellow and network leader Bill Rich (MA ‘99) was the University of Vermont Tarrant Institute’s guest blogger with his November 23 piece, “Trust the Science: Using Brain-based Learning to Upgrade Our Educational OS.” In this piece, Bill contrasts industrial age approaches to learning with approaches better informed by modern brain science. 

Holly Spinelli (MA ‘13) was among four educators featured on BAM Radio with Larry Ferlazzo, in an 11-minute episode called “Tough Classroom Questions: Why Is ‘Black Lives Matter’ Okay, but ‘All Lives Matter’ Not?” 

What’s the Story? has hosted “a monthly, hour-long series of free, fun, and substantive Creative Conversations, devoted to unpacking “the five laws of learning” described in Bill Rich’s blog post, “Trust the Science: Using Brain-based Learning to Upgrade our Educational OS.” 

After each of these Creative Conversations, Bill and What’s the Story? Vermont’s Co-Director Tim O’Leary (MA ‘07) synthesize their conversation and organize related resources in a blog post. They’ll convene their final Creative Conversation June 2 from 3:30 – 4:30 pm Eastern. Register here to join the June 2 conversation. 

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