KSOE’S Tamara Spencer Receives Early Childhood Literacy Educator Award  

Associate Dean of the KSOE Tamara SpencerKalmanovitz School of Education (KSOE) Associate Dean and Associate Professor Tamara Spencer, EdD, has been honored with a 2019 Early Literacy Educator of the Year Award from the Early Childhood Assembly of the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE). Spencer received the award last week during the NCTE Annual Convention in Baltimore, Md., where she was acknowledged as a master educator who has demonstrated innovative, rich language and literacy pedagogy in the field of early childhood teacher preparation.

“To be nominated and receive this is an honor, particularly because NCTE is known for being both a serious research body and for making an intentional and purposeful investment in the professional practice of educators,” said Spencer. “The Early Childhood Assembly of the NCTE is particularly concerned with language and literacy issues in early childhood education. Its work focuses on the complexity of literacy learning and development, and within my work, I focus on very young children’s first experiences with formal literacy instruction.”

The many nominations for Spencer’s NCTE award cited her stellar scholarship, vision, empathy, and advocacy in the field of teacher education. Recommendations from peers across the country noted her important contributions to centering issues of equity in the education of young children, especially children of color, demonstrating strong and public commitments to educating all children in culturally and linguistically equitable ways, and having a significant impact on how faculty collectively approach social justice issues in teacher preparation.

“We are tremendously proud of this latest recognition of Tammy Spencer,” said KSOE Dean Carol Ann Gittens. “She exemplifies the College’s Lasallian, Catholic values and KSOE’s academic mission to prepare educators to become thoughtful, effective classroom teachers and champions of equity in education and our communities.”

Spencer serves on the faculty in KSOE’s Teacher Education Department (Multiple Subject Program) and the School of Liberal Arts’ Justice, Community, and Leadership program. Her academic research explores young children’s literacy development, attending to children’s authentic and purposeful reading and writing experiences within multiple contexts. The work builds on a research tradition that emphasizes contextualized, qualitative studies of young children’s literate lives, both in and out of school. Her scholarship has appeared in numerous academic journals. In 2019, she received a Saint Mary’s College Provost Grant to support her current research initiative, “Using Children’s Literature to Lead Critical Early Literacy Teacher Education.”