2019 Teacher & Librarian Scholarship Winners

We are delighted to announce the winners of our 2019 Teacher & Librarian Scholarships!

Each year we recognize a diverse group of individuals who are making a positive impact on readers in their communities. We hope that participation in our literary community will inspire fresh engagement with literature in schools and libraries around the country. Scholarship recipients will gain exposure to contemporary authors and texts, expand their professional network of teachers, librarians, and writers, and be inspired to bring new ideas to the institutions and communities they serve.

We have selected the twenty-one dedicated teachers and librarians below to join us for the seminar in January. Thank you to everyone who applied, and congratulations to this year’s scholarship recipients!


Zain Abdullah teaches Religion and Society and Islamic studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he is an associate professor. He holds a doctorate degree in anthropology, and he writes about the Black experience and the human condition. His first book, Black Mecca: The African Muslims of Harlem, is an ethnography written as creative nonfiction.


Michelle Alonso teaches language arts to tenth graders and composition to students at Miami Dade College. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Florida International University. In her master’s thesis, she discussed translation and influence in the work of Anne Carson, Canadian translator, poet, and novelist. She runs the National English Honors Society chapter at Mater Lakes Academy and has been a Florida High Impact Teacher for the past three years.


Jonathan De Young teaches writing and literature at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College. He studied poetry with Billy Collins in Key West, is a student at the University of Texas at El Paso’s MFA Online program, and wrote the nonfiction collection Any Day is Father’s Day. He lives in rural Pennsylvania with his wife and two teens.


Omar Figueras teaches at Miami Dade College’s InterAmerican Campus in Little Havana, where he is co-advisor to its student literary magazine, Urbana, and serves on the advisory board for Reading Queer. He grew up in Hialeah, Florida, and received his MFA degree in creative writing from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. He lives and writes in Miami Beach.


After studying the behavioral ecology of capuchin monkeys in the tropical dry forest, Kristin Fisher has gone on to teach middle school and high school in New York, California, and Oregon. She is especially interested in place-based outdoor school program designs and intersecting literature and printmaking processes with ecology. She holds a master’s degree in environmental sciences from the University of Michigan.


Roxann Fournier, a native of Pennsylvania, has taught middle school and high school for fourteen years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communication, woman’s studies, and French from the George Washington University and her master’s degree in secondary education from Saint Joseph’s University. She is a highly qualified, reading-endorsed teacher and is affiliated with Teach for America. She loves to travel and has lived abroad.


Diane Hance is the librarian at Grisham Middle School in Austin, Texas. She is a National Board Certified teacher, is a member of the IB educator network, and is active in the Texas Library Association. She is passionate about making the library the heart of the school and is always looking for ways to create meaningful interdisciplinary learning experiences for her students.


Amber Karlins is a full-time instructor of English at Lake-Sumter State College, and she serves as a volunteer with the United Nations, where she develops written content for educational nonprofits in Nigeria. She is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in English and holds a master’s degree from Tufts University. She is an award-winning writer and the Association of Florida College’s 2017 Professor of the Year.


Cristy Moran is a faculty librarian at Broward College’s North Campus and serves both college and public library visitors to the joint-use North Regional/Broward College Library in Coconut Creek, Florida. A self-professed riot grrrl librarian, her professional interests lie at the intersection of critical pedagogy and information literacy. She works to develop student-centered programs and resources to support Broward College’s Education Pathway, the Minority Male Initiative, College Read, and any programs that create opportunity and equity among all members of her community.

Genevieve Morgan Key West

Genevieve Morgan teaches ninth grade and AP Literature at Flintridge Preparatory School in La Canada, California, where she tries to create a dialogue between texts such as the Odyssey and The Handmaid’s Tale and the popular culture her students swim in. Lately she has has been exploring ways to leverage technology and contemporary fiction to make the issues in class relevant to her twenty-first century learners. She is the winner of two NEH awards to study literature in France and Italy.


Patricia O’Connor is a librarian for DeKalb County School District, a large, urban Title I district in the Atlanta area. Throughout her career, she has taken on many job challenges, but has always returned to her passion for sharing the magic of literature with her students and their communities. She is currently developing a school library program that integrates the makerspace movement, arts, and technology with literature and literacy, with a special emphasis on folklore.


Karen Parkman teaches writing and composition at Kirkwood Community College. She has also taught creative writing at the University of Iowa and the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio. She received her MFA degree in creative writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is at work on a novel.


Propelled into action as a New York City public school teacher and mother of a teenage daughter and middle-school-aged son, Connie Pertuz-Meza writes stories about her life, family, and ancestors. She is a staff writer for Hispanecdotes, a monthly online literary magazine. She is currently working on a semi-autobiographical young-adult novel and documents her life through personal essays on her blog.


Christal Raley is a twenty-five-year veteran teacher at Henry F. Moss Middle School. She has always taught her students that literature is the primary means by which we interpret the world and the human condition. She lives with her daughter and son in Bowling Green, Kentucky.


Andrea Rinard has been a high school English teacher in her native Florida for more than twenty-five years. Since 2015 she has been the subject area leader for English at Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School in Tampa, Florida. She is also a writer, and she has just completed her first novel. She is currently a student in the University of South Florida’s Graduate Certificate Program in Creative Writing.


Brittany Rogers teaches English language arts at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, and is also a poet, mother, and Hufflepuff Head of House. She is co-chief editor of WusGood? and a reader for Muzzle magazine. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and a fellow of VONA and Pink Door Writing Retreat.


Nona M. Shepherd teaches writing and literature at Northeast State Community College in rural Tennessee. An avid student and instructor of world mythology, she introduces her Appalachian students to ancient cultures and has taught Celtic and Greek mythos abroad. When she doesn’t have her nose in an epic or urban fantasy novel, she leads the international education programming on her campus.

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As a public school librarian, Deirdre Sugiuchi seeks to foster a love of reading and writing in her students by seeking out current culturally relevant materials and books reflecting student interests in a variety of formats. She hosts author visits and develops and implements the Reading Rock Stars program, which recognizes and celebrates students for reading at home. She lives in Athens, Georgia, with her husband and son, where she’s also finishing Unreformed, her memoir about surviving and thriving after spending her adolescence incarcerated in Escuela Caribe, a fundamentalist Christian reform school in the Dominican Republic.


Jodi Turchin has been a secondary English teacher in Broward County, Florida, for the past fourteen years. When she’s not in a classroom, she’s writing young-adult novels or out in nature taking photographs. She has been passionate about the written word since she learned to read at three years old.


Emily Vizzo teaches English in an online public school that serves disadvantaged youth. She previously covered Congress for the Scripps Howard News Service in Washington, DC, and has written on topics including the San Diego biotech industry, corporate social justice, surf, the arts, education, business, and health. She has completed a novel, and her chapbook, Giantess, is forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2018. She serves as artist in residence with the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.


Bobbie Warren is in her sixteenth year teaching English and AP Literature at Bentonville High School in Arkansas. She is National Board Certified, has been voted English Teacher of the Year, and has twice been elected Most Influential Teacher by her students. She is passionate about learning something new every day, about the power of literature to help us see the world through different lenses, and about empowering students through literature to become kind empathic adults who will do good in the world.

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