2021 Symposium


Friday, December 10, 2021 | 8:00 a.m. ‚Äď 3:30 p.m. | WMU’s Fetzer Center | FREE to the Public

2251 Business Court, Kalamazoo, MI 49008

Literacy is the ability to read, write, comprehend, and use technology at a level that empowers an individual to reach his or her full potential as a parent, employee, and community member.  


This year’s theme is “Fostering Leadership and Equity Through Adult Literacy.” This free, annual event is for anyone who is interested in supporting adult literacy ‚Äď from experienced volunteer tutors and instructors to individuals who want to learn more about how they can serve this important cause, particularly during a time of hybrid learning.¬†
We are pleased to have WMU president Dr. Edward Montgomery, who will deliver the welcome address. Read below to see the agenda and list of presenters. 
During this day-long symposium, attendees will participate in workshops and presentations that explore best practices for adult literacy instruction. Focus areas include Parent Literacy/Multi-Generational Learning, Health Literacy, Workforce Literacy, English as a Second Language, and Digital Literacy. This university-community partnership enhances the growing faculty of tutors, instructors, and supporters who are advancing the status of adult literacy in the region. Participants will receive strategies that help learners thrive in the workplace, manage their health, and become more capable and confident ‚Äúfirst teachers‚ÄĚ of their children. Attendees will also hear ways to better serve English Language Learners and how to create vibrant learning opportunities in virtual and in-person environments.
New! The Symposium qualifies for SCECHs. Credit hours are listed below. Forms will be available at the event, both in-person and online. What are SCECHs?
Registration deadlines: For in-person, register by November 29th. Lunch is provided for in-person attendees. If participating virtually, please register by December 9th. 


8:00 a.m. – 8:15 a.m. Registration

8:15 a.m. – 8:20 a.m. Welcome Address by Dr. Edward Montgomery

8:20 a.m. Р8:40 a.m. Opening Presentation by Michael Evans 

8:45 a.m. Р9:45 a.m. 1.0 Parent Literacy Together within Digital Worlds by Dr. Laura Teichert and Dr. Elizabeth Isidro 
The digital divide continues to remind us that it is not merely having technology that allows families to thrive in today‚Äôs society; it is also about knowing how to use it. In response to this equity issue, the KLC’s Parent Literacy Together Program in partnership with Western Michigan University offered a series of in-person and virtual sessions that centered on empowering families with digital literacy skills. This interactive presentation will highlight features of the program as well as perspectives of the families and session facilitators. ¬†¬†¬†

9:45 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Morning Break

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. 1.0 Career Pathways by Michael Evans, Nichole Blum, and April Goodwin
The Edison Early Childhood Education Career Pathway Partnership is an innovative approach to developing an effective workforce. The program provides a sustainable career pathway that increases the availability of qualified Early Learning Professionals (ELPs) in Kalamazoo. The program expands access to childcare and early learning options for neighborhood residents that lead to strong and resilient families through multi-generational learning approaches. This presentation will explore the program strategies and successful outcomes.

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 1.0 Making Hybrid Learning Work by Jackie Denoyer and Rose Fetzer
Throughout the pandemic, the Kalamazoo Literacy Council has kept up with learners’ needs by offering virtual and hybrid options. As we continue to adapt to the ever changing world, we realized that our adult learners really enjoy hybrid options. Today, we are discussing how to run a hybrid class, the pitfalls to avoid, and the opportunities for learning that can happen when it is run successfully.

12:00 p.m. Р12:45 p.m. Lunch 

12:45 p.m. Р2:15 p.m. 1.5 Interacting with Non-Native English Speakers by Jen Kruger 
As the non-native population in our community grows, many of us find ourselves interacting personally or professionally with those on a language and culture learning journey. In this presentation, we will explore ideas and strategies for removing the stress from communication across a language and culture divide. We will instead replace this with confidence and positivity for ourselves as guides and teachers, as well as the learners around us. Whether you are a teacher, tutor, volunteer or just a community member, you will leave better understanding the non-native speakers around you and your role in their positive learning experience.

2:15 p.m. Р3:15 p.m. 1.0 Health Literacy: Teaching What Adult Learners Want to Learn by Andrea VanDyke 
As learners are transitioning between virtual and in-person learning it is even more important to be engaged with them about what they want to learn. In this talk, I will share some of my personal experiences and insights on how to best meet their needs.  

3:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Closing Address by Dr. Luchara Wallace


Dr. Edward Montgomery, President, Western Michigan University 
Edward Montgomery, who has served as president of Western Michigan University  since 2017, is a nationally known labor economist who played major roles in both the Clinton and Obama administrations. During the Obama administration, Montgomery  was a member of the president’s auto task force and led the interagency White House Council for Auto Communities and Workers. 

During the Clinton administration, Montgomery served as chief economist, then counselor and assistant secretary for the Department of Labor, before being named¬† deputy secretary of labor. In the latter role, the department‚Äôs second highest position,¬† he oversaw operations of the $33 billion department. In his current role as president¬† of WMU, he has had the distinction of presiding over the university during a landmark¬† time: In June 2021, President Montgomery made the groundbreaking announcement that Western has received a gift of $550 million ‚ÄĒ the largest gift ever made for a public university ‚ÄĒ called the Empowering Futures gift. This gift will allow Western, already a¬† leader in social mobility, to become an engine of social mobility for generations to come.¬†

Montgomery has held faculty positions at Michigan State University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Maryland, winning teaching awards some five times over the years. Prior to becoming the ninth president of Western Michigan University, he served as founding dean and professor of economics at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. 

Montgomery was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2019,  alongside distinguished inductees including former first lady Michelle Obama, and former governors Mitch Daniels and Deval Patrick. The academy honors world leaders  for achievements in the arts and sciences, business, philanthropy, and public affairs.  

As a researcher, Montgomery has focused on state and local economic growth, wage  and pension determination, savings behavior, productivity and economic dynamics,  social insurance programs, and unions. For more than two decades, he has been a  research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and since 2006, he has been a fellow of Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality. 

In 2011, he was elected a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. He  serves on the board of directors of the Center for Law and Social Policy. He also serves  on the Committee on Economic Statistics for the American Economic Association. Montgomery earned a bachelor’s degree in economics with honors from Pennsylvania  State University, and a master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from Harvard University. 

Montgomery and his wife, Kari, a Michigan native, have three grown children‚ÄĒLindsay,¬† Elizabeth and Edward.

Michael D. Evans is Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Literacy Council (KLC) and has been with the organization since August 2010. He is the facilitator of the Adult Literacy Collaborative of Kalamazoo County, which serves as a forum to determine adult literacy priorities, identify and expand resources, and align services and programs in the county. Evans is Vice-Chair of the Region 8 Regional Prosperity Initiative for the State of Michigan. He serves as the Co-Director of the Adult Literacy Research and Training Symposium, which is hosted annually in collaboration with Western Michigan University. He serves on the Advisory Board for the WMU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and on the Board of Directors of Family & Children Services. Before coming to the KLC, Evans worked for 15 years in the nonprofit sector in Battle Creek with several organizations including Community Inclusive Recreation, Summit Pointe, and New Level Sports. He was Executive Director of Heritage Battle Creek and the Sojourner Truth Institute of Battle Creek and has served on many statewide boards, including the Michigan Humanities Council, the Michigan Freedom Trail Commission, and the Michigan Association of Cultural Arts Associations.

Nichole Blum is a¬†Development Manager at YWCA Kalamazoo overseeing the funds and partnership development for the strategic focus area that is Improving the Lives of Children. With the YWCA’s mission to eliminate racism and empower women at the core of her work, Nichole works strategically to create equitable access to early learning and child care services for community members who typically are blocked from engaging by systemic barriers. Currently, Nichole is completing her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Development and Learning from Central Michigan University. Continuing to work on systemic change at the neighborhood level has inspired Nichole to pursue a master’s degree in Applied Anthropology. Her professional goals are focused on reworking the early learning and child care sector so that it is less stressful for staff, children, and families and, in doing so, creating spaces where authentic relationships can take root. Nichole has worked as an Early Learning Professional (ELP) for the last 22 years and has been with YWCA Kalamazoo for the past seven years. Her roles have included infant/toddler teaching and preschool teaching in traditional, Montessori, and Reggio settings, a program director over for-profit and non-profit¬†programs, and as an early childhood systems consultant. Her hobbies include being outdoors, drawing, writing, reading, and exploring new places.¬†

April Goodwin is first and foremost a wife, mother of 4 and a grandmother to 5 brilliant young children. She is also the Executive Director of Southwest Child CareResources. April directs this non-profit agency in being the first stop for all things child care related including referral, training, education, and advocacy. April, along with her team of Quality Improvement staff, works to promote quality care andeducation for all children by supporting providers and the families they serve with community resources. Under her leadership, Southwest Child Care Resource’s Quality Improvement team developed one of the first nationally recognized pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship program and early childhood education credentialing. Upon completion of the program, child care participants can receive a Child Development Associate (CDA) certification and a Child Care Development Specialist (Early Childhood Education) certification through the US Department ofLabor and Apprenticeships.
April brings to the table a wide variety of expertise from being a Diversity Coordinator at Parchment Public Schools to working with young students as an Alternative Principal at Barclay Alternative High School. She later transition in to working with families as a Family and Community Coordinator for Head Start. April holds a Master’s in Social Work from Western Michigan University and a Bachelor’s in Organizational Management from Spring Arbor College.
April is inspired daily by her husband of 39 years to keep her faith in front of her and to continue to find time for herself. April loves to take long walks with her husband, garden and spend lots of time with her family. April‚Äôs favorite quote is “When life getsyou down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming.” ‚ÄĒ Dory

Dr. Elizabeth Isidro is an Assistant Professor of Literacy Studies at Western Michigan University. She also serves as the Director of the McGinnis Reading Center and Clinic, where she works with teacher candidates and families to support the literacy development of Prek-8th grade students. Her research interests center on developing novice teachers’ reading instruction to prepare them to teach students from diverse backgrounds, the use of multi-literacies in reading instruction, and the intersection of stories, response, and identity of readers.

Dr. Laura Teichert comes to WMU from Vancouver, British Columbia, where she completed her Ph.D. in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia. While completing her Ph.D. studies, she worked as an enrichment teacher at a K-8 private elementary school and used a project-based, inquiry learning curriculum with her students. Her previous education includes a BA in English Language and Literature from Western University (London, Ontario), Graduate Diploma in Education-Primary from Deakin University (Melbourne, Australia) and a M.Ed in Curriculum Studies from Western University (London, Ontario). In addition to elementary teaching, Laura worked for a number of years as an Early Literacy Specialist in Ontario where she facilitated ‚Äėintroduction to school‚Äô and reading intervention programs in local schools and community outreach through family literacy programs and intergenerational learning programs. Laura‚Äôs research interests focus on early literacy in home, school, and community contexts, early digital literacy, multimodality and play-based learning.

Jen Kruger is a graduate of WMU with a Bachelor’s degree in English and German. She is an introductory-level German instructor at WMU since 2013, and has taught ESL with ESL of SWMI and KLC since 2017. Her focus is teaching survival English for adult learners and providing access to parent literacy for lowest-level learners. Jen’s experience watching students thrive in a confidence-buliding environment drives her to guide others in recreating safe and encouraging moments with non-native adults.

Jacqueline Denoyer is the ESL Adult Learning Services Navigator at the KLC where she supports English Language Learners and volunteer tutors in the ESL of SW Michigan program. Jacqueline joined the KLC just before the pandemic and has been instrumental in moving our ESL program online and helping with efforts to bridge the digital divide for these motivated learners. She is a qualified court and community interpreter in Spanish and English and interpreter trainer. Jacqueline holds a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Michigan. She served as a Basic Sanitation Volunteer in Peace Corps Bolivia and has worked in construction in the US and Bolivia. She has worked as a translator from Spanish to English for over 10 years. She served as one of the Directors at the Centro Boliviana Americano in Tarija, Bolivia, where she was also a youth mentor for their high school leadership program.

Rose Fetzer joined the KLC as an Adult Learning Services Navigator in October 2020. In her role she empowers learners to continue their education towards a GED, Digital Literacy, JOBS skills, and more through virtual learning. Rose has a BA in Human Resources and uses this background to make connections between learners and employers. She has a passion for community service and helping where there is a need. She is excited to be a part of this great team and promote literacy in Kalamazoo! 

Andrea VanDyke started with the Kalamazoo Literacy Council in September of 2017 as a Health Literacy intern. In that role, she taught SNAP-Ed nutrition classes and was a co-presenter at the annual Adult Literacy Research & Training Symposium with students from WMU‚Äôs Homer J. Stryker M.D. School of Medicine. In 2018, she transitioned to being a part-time Health Literacy Navigator and again was a featured speaker at the Symposium along with KLC fellow Dr. Doris Ravotas. After accepting a full-time position at Ascension Borgess in 2019, Andrea continued her volunteer work by acting as an ‚Äúintern mentor,‚ÄĚ assisting new Health Literacy interns get familiar with the organization, our services, and adult learner population. In May of 2021, she took over the Read and Seed Health & Parent Literacy project and has been designing curriculum and teaching weekly classes. Andrea has been an amazing volunteer and leader in the Health Literacy program. She continues to put the KLC at the top of her priority list and always appreciates the opportunity to speak to someone about the agency. She was recently recognized with the 2021 Volunteer Service Award. As we like to say, Andrea bleeds KLC green!

Dr. Luchara Wallace is the Director of the Lewis Walker Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations and an Associate Professor in Special Education where she leads research and advocacy on topics such as juvenile incarceration, generational wealth attainment, and policies impacting families and individuals with disabilities. Prior to her appointment as Director of the Walker Institute, Dr. Wallace taught courses in the Learning Disabilities endorsement block and was a co-principal investigator on the Turnaround School Leaders Project, which was a federal grant designed to turnaround priority schools and develop a leadership pipeline within the partner districts. Dr. Wallace is currently engaging in research related to the development of an off-campus alternative to school suspension in an effort to interrupt the school to prison pipeline for at-risk middle and high school students. Most recently, Dr. Wallace developed a summer youth employment program based upon preliminary results from the alternative to school suspension research and feedback from incarcerated youth.

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