Professor receives award for contributions to LGBTQ-inclusive literature in elementary education

Contact: Chris Hybels

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University’s Dr. Jill Hermann-Wilmarth, professor of educational foundations in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Educational Studies, was recently awarded the 2023 Outstanding Elementary Educators in English Language Arts Award by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). She shares the award with her longtime collaborator, Dr. Caitlin L. Ryan, associate professor in the Watson College of Education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

According to the NCTE, the award recognizes distinguished educators who have made outstanding contributions to the field of language arts in elementary education. Hermann-Wilmarth and Ryan have been collaborating for more than eight years and focus their work on LGBTQ-inclusive literacy instruction at the elementary level. Their research has been published in several journals, including NCTE’s Journal of Language Arts. 

"Dr. Hermann-Wilmarth is most deserving of the 2023 Outstanding Elementary Educator Award from NCTE because of her dedication to honoring LGBTQ+ students' and educators' rights and her support of equitable learning environments for all children," says Dr. Susan Piazza, chair of Western's Department of Teaching, Learning and Educational Studies. "She has dedicated her career to elementary teacher education and learning for social justice. WMU is proud to celebrate her scholarly accomplishments and advocacy for diversity, equity, and inclusion."   

In 2018, Herman-Wilmarth and Ryan co-authored "Reading the Rainbow: LGBTQ-Inclusive Literacy in the Elementary Classroom," a book discussing what LGBTQ-inclusive literacy teaching can look like in practice, including what teachers might say and how students might respond. The book also provides readers with opportunities to consider these new approaches with respect to traditional literacy instruction. The book received the 2018 Literacy Research Association’s Edward D. Fry Book Award, an award honoring members who author a book on literacy research and practice.

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