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Reading Conference

Online Registration (external link, opens in new window)

Senate Resolution No. 70 created the Task Force on Reading Curriculum and Instruction to conduct a study to gain data on the teaching of reading and the Reading Sufficiency Act (RSA).

Based upon its findings, the task force recommended that the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, in conjunction with higher education institutions, offer an annual reading conference for school teachers, administrators and higher education faculty that is focused on substantive reading professional development and curriculum alignment, effecting emergent and conventional reading.

Past conference literacy topics have included literacy development, technology, culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms, tools and practices.



2022 Conference Information
15th Annual Reading Conference
Friday, Sept. 23

The 15th Annual Reading Conference will feature keynote speaker, Dr. Heidi Anne Mesmer, speaking on effective practices in reading education. She will share frequent questions and concerns and how teachers can navigate current reading research to benefit all students.

The special afternoon panel will include Sharon Morgan, Lauren Vandever, Jason Stephenson and Dr. Leonard D.T. Newby.

Breakout sessions will feature exciting topics, with Claudia Swisher, Dr. Suzii Parsons and Ashley Valencia-Pate.

Conference Agenda (PDF, 127k)
Registration Flyer (PDF, 128k)
Online Registration (external link, opens in new window)

2022 Conference Speaker Information

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Heidi Anne Mesmer, Author and Former Teacher

A former classroom teacher, Dr. Heidi Anne Mesmer works extensively with teachers, schools and young readers, directing school-based initiatives to improve reading instruction. Since 1999, she has studied beginning reading instruction and text difficulty, and her work has been published in Reading Research Quarterly, The Educational Researcher, Elementary School Journal, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, and other outlets.

Mesmer is the author of five books, including Letter Lessons and First Words: Phonics Foundations that Work (2019) and the Alphabetics for Emerging Learners: Building Strong Reading Foundations in PreK (2021).

Twitter: @haemesmer

Sharon Morgan

Sharon Morgan serves as the director of elementary English language arts for the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE). She was a classroom teacher for 18 years and has also served as the director of early childhood at OSDE, state literacy specialist for the Oklahoma Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant (OSRCL) and elementary English language arts coordinator for Oklahoma City Public Schools.

Lauren Vandever

Lauren Vandever is a seventh grade reading teacher at Bristow Public Schools. She is completing her 10th year of teaching on top of being the District ELA department head.

Vandever earned her master's degree in reading and literacy from Oklahoma State University in 2021, and she was a finalist for 2022 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.


Jason Stephenson

Jason Stephenson serves as the director of secondary English language arts and library media for the Oklahoma State Department of Education. A former middle school and high school English teacher, he participates in the OKC Story Slam and Red Dirt Poetry.






Dr. Leonard D.T. Newby

Leonard D.T. Newby is a senior analyst with Bellwether Education Partners, a national nonprofit focused on dramatically improving education and life outcomes for systemically marginalized young people and their communities. A certified educator with more than 10 years of K-12 classroom experience, Newby specializes in educating individuals with mild and moderate disabilities and serves as an adjunct professor of special education in the School of Education and Behavioral Sciences at Langston University.

Newby holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Auburn University, a master’s degree in special education from Clark Atlanta University, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. His research interests include teacher recruitment and retention, racial and gender equity, and stereotype threat.

Newby enjoys serving his community and is a proud and active member of the Urban League of Greater OKC Young Professionals, 100 Black Men of Tulsa and the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma.

Claudia Swisher

Claudia Swisher has taught for nearly 45 years, every grade K-12, as well as undergraduate and graduate classes at Oklahoma universities. She has worked as a school librarian, remedial reading instructor and classroom teacher. Now, she loudly advocates for public schools and school libraries, and for teachers, students and parents.

Dr. Suzii Parsons

Dr. Sue (Suzii) Christian Parsons’ scholarship reflects a passionate belief that all learners deserve a voice in this world and outstanding teachers to foster their growth. Her research focuses on dialogue as pedagogy, representation of diverse perspectives in literature for children and young adults, and teacher preparation.

A strong proponent of full and effective integration of high-quality literature in classrooms, Parsons is president of the International Literacy Association Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group and has served on a variety of national book award committees.

Parsons has been twice awarded the OSU Regents Teaching Award and has received a variety of other teaching honors including the College of Education Teaching Award, the Mortar Board Golden Torch Award, the College of Education Teaching Excellence Award, and the OSU Outstanding Service-Learning Faculty Award.

Ashley Valencia-Pate

Ashley Valencia-Pate is a doctoral student in language, literacy and culture at Oklahoma State University. She taught high school English courses and knew she needed to learn more about reading, so she became a reading specialist to better support her students. Her research interests include reading and writing instruction and using technology in the classroom to create equitable experiences.

Conference Material Archives
If these files do not meet your accessibility needs, email or call 405.225.9184.

2021 Conference Information
Conference Agenda (PDF, 182k)

2019 Conference Information
Joy, Power, Possibilities Through Diverse Literature (PDF, 397k)

2018 Conference Information
Plugging In to Literacy (PDF, 81k)

2017 Conference Information
Looking Back... Moving Forward (PDF, 317k)

2016 Conference Information
Presentation: Proven Strategies to Strengthen Struggling Readers (PDF, 375k)