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Education Professor Co-Authors Book on Literacy Leadership

‘It takes a village’ to bring literacy learning to the forefront

Kristin Rainville of Fairfield, professor of education at Sacred Heart University, has co-authored a book to help guide and develop literacy teachers and leaders.

The book, Literacy Leadership in Changing Schools: Ten Keys for Providing Successful Professional Development, combines the work of five education professors, including Rainville, who aimed to help school administrators and literacy leaders improve teachers’ professional development. The book offers suggestions to help teachers improve their instruction of students who are learning English as a second language.

“Through these 10 keys, we provide professional learning opportunities in the area of literacy,” says Rainville, who teaches in the Educational Leadership and Literacy Department at SHU’s College of Education. She wrote two chapters in the book, published by Teachers College Press, and co-authored another.

Rainville says building-level administrators could benefit from the book, as well as teachers aspiring to become leaders and all literacy coaches and specialists. “This book takes theory and puts it into practice,” she explains.

Each chapter takes on one specific element that is necessary to becoming an effective literacy leader, Rainville says. The book discusses classroom issues teachers face every day and provides a variety of strategies, vignettes and tools to apply to these situations.

Before joining SHU last August, Rainville was department chair and assistant professor in the department of literacy at Manhattanville College, N.Y., for eight years. She wrote the book with four of her Manhattanville colleagues. In addition, she recently started a collaboration with a group of literacy coaches from Fairfield County.

Rainville began her career as an elementary school teacher in Stamford and then as a literacy coach in the New Jersey Department of Education before she became coordinator of its Office of Early Literacy.

Rainville obtained her bachelor’s degree in elementary education  at Saint Bonaventure University and her master’s degree from the University of Bridgeport, as well as a Certificate of Advanced Study from Fairfield University. She earned her doctorate at Teachers College at Columbia University, where she discovered her love for teaching higher education.

Rainville has been pleased to find “Literacy Leadership” receiving positive feedback.

“People see how it can influence their work in positive ways,” she says. “People are looking to adapt the book for courses.”

Karen C. Waters, clinical assistant professor and program director for literacy at the College of Education, says Rainville’s book should be required reading for every literacy professional, and it will be required reading for all SHU students pursuing the state reading consultant certificate.

“Kristin and her colleagues have shown us how to reconsider and reimagine powerful, customized and sustainable school and district-wide literacy professional development, with particular emphasis on the changing classroom and the teaching of English learners,” Waters says. “A step-by-step strategic process takes the literacy coach from self-assessment to collaborative work with faculty. Self-efficacy checklists, charts and leadership toolkits provide practical guidelines for cohesive planning and are embedded with structured opportunities for literacy leaders to engage in ongoing self-reflection while supporting staff in addressing problems of practice.

“Real-life vignettes provide a lens in which every reading specialist or literacy coach will come to recognize themselves as they, too, grapple with common challenges of new standards, assessments and a growing list of digital literacies,” she adds. “The authors have experienced first-hand the adage, ‘It takes a village,’ in an inclusive model that partnered with administrators, teachers and parents to bring literacy learning to the forefront of the district.”