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Literacy: A Social Justice Issue

Wednesday, April 14, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDT

Literacy: A Social Justice Issue

Presented by Hilderbrand Pelzer III, Educator and Author; Carissa Berliner, Teacher and Universal Literacy Reading Coach, New York City Department of Education; and Resha Conroy, Founder, Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children
Moderated by Debbie Meyer, A’Lelia Bundles Community Scholar

Sponsored by Learning Ally

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Closed captioning will be added to the recording within 2 weeks of the live presentation.
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The U.S. Department of Justice states, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded in reading failure.” The national reading crisis is much larger than poor grades and missing assignments. The effects it has on students last a lifetime. When reading deficits are identified early, they can be remediated with instruction rather than accommodations. Too often, however, struggling readers are unidentified and left behind, and the ramifications are manifold.

This recorded presentation features a principal, teacher, and parent who will share their journeys and how they advocate leaving no student behind due to inadequate instruction. This recorded edWebinar will be of interest to preK-12 teachers, librarians, and school and district leaders.


Hilderbrand PelzerAbout the Presenters

Hilderbrand Pelzer III is an award-winning educator with three decades of wide-ranging experience, having served as an assistant regional superintendent, a principal, an assistant principal, and a teacher. As the author of Unlocking Potential: Organizing a School Inside a Prison, Hilderbrand has earned a national reputation for his achievements in expanding opportunities in highly challenging schools and educational environments. Among his many notable accomplishments is the creation of an evidence-based school model for incarcerated youth in Philadelphia’s correctional facilities.

Hilderbrand is also a speaker. His presentations highlight the intersection of education and incarceration. His TEDx Talk, “What Incarcerated Youth Can Teach Teachers,” illuminates issues related to inadequate reading instruction, educational inequities, and illiteracy in the juvenile justice system. Hilderbrand’s education perspective is defined by incarcerated youths’ experience with reading and the belief that their insights can strengthen educators’ understanding of when and how to raise the academic bar while teaching.


Carissa BerlinerCarissa Berliner has been an educator in the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) for 16 years. She began her career as a New York City Teaching Fellow in 2004 and went on to teach in elementary school for 14 years in Queens, NY. Discovering a passion for literacy instruction and coaching, in 2018 Carissa joined the Universal Literacy Initiative (ULit) within the NYCDOE as a ULit Reading Coach. It is during her time with the Universal Literacy Initiative that she learned about the science of reading. Through ULit, she became highly trained in early childhood literacy pedagogy, content, and assessment. As a reading coach and mom of a first grader, Carissa has begun to advocate for changes to reading instruction in grades K-2. Due to the pandemic, this school year she is teaching kindergarten and first grade as a special education teacher. Carissa can also be seen on the WNET/WLIW television show Let’s Learn, teaching reading to young learners.


Resha ConroyResha Conroy is a founding member of the Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children. She is the mother of two children with learning differences, including a son with dyslexia. She is motivated by her family’s journey and a lifelong passion for education reform to bring awareness to the intersectionality of race and literacy. Resha has almost two decades of experience in charter school administration and non-profit management. She has served on school leadership teams and as a consultant for charter schools in Washington D.C. and New York City. She has an MPA in non-profit administration from NYU, where she is now an M.S. candidate in speech-language pathology.


Debbie MeyerAbout the Moderator

Debbie Meyer is a founding member of the Dyslexia (Plus) in Public Schools Task Force, a small group of community leaders working to help students with dyslexia and related language-based disabilities thrive in their neighborhood schools. In 2018, she was named as a Columbia Community Scholar to look at the intersection of dyslexia and mass incarceration and the role of universities in changing the trajectory of struggling readers. Debbie’s lengthy professional career is in non-profit management and fundraising. She lives in Central Harlem with her (dyslexic) husband and son.


Closed captioning will be added to the recording within 2 weeks of the live presentation.

Join the Empowering Struggling Readers community to network with educators, participate in online discussions, receive invitations to upcoming edWebinars, and view recordings of previous programs to earn CE certificates.

Learning AllyLearning Ally is a leading education solutions organization committed to transforming the lives of struggling learners. The Learning Ally Audiobook Solution is a proven reading accommodation comprised of human-read audiobooks, student centric features and a suite of teacher resources. Used in more than 17,000 schools, this solution successfully helps students with reading deficits become engaged learners and reach their academic potential.

Learning Ally


Wednesday, April 14, 2021
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDT
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