2020 Teacher & Librarian Scholarships

We are delighted to announce the winners of our 2020 Teacher & Librarian Scholarships!

Each year we recognize a diverse group of individuals who are making a positive impact on readers in their communities. We are pleased to offer these talented educators and librarians full scholarships to our annual Seminar. We hope that participation in our literary community inspires fresh engagement with literature in schools and libraries around the country.

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

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Ashley Anderson Bidwell has spent more than ten years as an education professional. Her career has been devoted to students who have exceptionalities / disabilities, have experienced trauma, and/or live in a poverty-level environment. She has a passion for researching and presenting information in a way that enables students of all abilities and backgrounds to realize their full potential.

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Katie Cerqua is youth and family services manager at Virginia Beach Public Library where she coordinates library services for citizens from birth to age eighteen. Library Journal chose her as one of its 2016 Movers & Shakers in the change agents category for her work fighting summer slide through a program that brings library events and literacy programming into school buildings to help at-risk youth combat summer learning losses.

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Sheila Chari teaches fiction writing at Mercy College in New York with a special interest in immigrant stories. She focuses on innovative ways to help historically marginalized students access their imaginations to tell stories that give them a sense of voice and agency. She is author of two middle-grade novels, Finding Mighty and Vanished. She has an MFA in creative writing from New York University.

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Macy Cole is a third-year English teacher at Enloe High School, a magnet school in Raleigh, North Carolina. She specializes in world literature and sheltered ESL instruction. She also co-teaches a paideia English course paired with world history. Macy is driven to unite her students across language and background by dissolving social constructs that may inhibit them, thus allowing them to become advocates for change.

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Yesenia Flores Díaz is an English composition assistant at Montgomery County Public Schools. She’s an award-winning writer and lifelong library lover. Her strongest calling is to teach low-income communities of color because representation matters. She strives to inspire learning and to provide continuity of high-quality education for all students. She is the proud mother of two strong girls and resides in Maryland.

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Aurora Dominguez teaches AP and AICE courses at Boca Raton Community High School. She was previously a journalist for the Miami HeraldWhere, and Bauer Xcel Media. As a teacher, she mentors ninth and tenth graders in writing and research and keeps her students updated on current events and on how to write that “oh-so-important” college research paper. She is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and lives in Hollywood, Florida.

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Faran Fagan is a transplanted Marylander who now lives in sunny South Florida. When he’s not teaching high school journalism, writing, or watching sports, he reads—both to himself and to his son and daughter. Faran won the Best & Brightest Teacher award from Florida Department of Education and received a letter of recognition from the House of Representatives for his Big Brother Big Sister club.

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J Dia Green-Jones currently works as ESE coordinator, graduation coach, and interventionist for Bay District Schools in Panama City, Florida, where she helps students who are academically deficient in the core subject areas of mathematics and reading. Literacy is extremely important in her work because it allows students to discover who they are and complete the necessary steps to improve their future.

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Rebecca Hankins is a professor and certified archivist at Texas A&M University. She is an affiliated faculty in the Interdisciplinary critical studies program that includes Africana studies, women’s and gender studies, and Arabic language and culture. She is committed to exposing students to the excellence represented in diverse collections, particularly emphasizing race, gender, and sexuality.

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Karen Javits is an educator, poet, and lifelong learner. She currently teaches English to immigrant and refugee women and their children in Clarkston, Georgia, where she focuses on skills for the whole person using a family literacy approach. She has more than twenty years experience teaching and motivating kids, teens, and adults. She lives near Emory University in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband, two daughters, and pup.

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Anne Katz has a doctorate degree in language, literacy, and learning. She is an associate professor of reading at Georgia Southern University and has a strong interest in community literacy initiatives with a focus on local middle school students. She serves as a collaborator on a National Institute of Health grant and has provided professional development for educators through three federal Teacher Quality Partnership grants.

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Shannon Korta has worked in education for thirteen years and is currently at Landmark Christian School in Fairburn, Georgia. She is passionate about cultivating students’ interests in reading and writing and strives to encourage open and constructive discussion about race and class so her students develop independent thinking. She lives with her husband and is Mom to two pugs and four humans.

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Joel Newsome is a mobile services librarian from Worcester, Massachusetts, where he visits elementary schools, retirement communities, and neighborhoods in one of two bookmobiles running year-round and making fifty-five stops per month. He is dedicated to providing outreach services to patrons who may find it difficult to travel to branch libraries and seeks to create meaningful programming that allows the city’s diverse patrons to connect with one another.

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Dena Rebozo is a public librarian turned one-on-one special educator at Orcas Island Elementary School in the Pacific Northwest. She bears witness to little and big steps—which ultimately lead to personal transformations—on a daily basis. She is an observer and reporter of students gaining proficiency in their own sport, be it counting by threes, learning to read, or traversing the hallway self-propelled in a walker while hitting a minimal number of obstacles.

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Alyssa Skaves is assistant librarian at York High School in Maine. She sponsors the school’s book club and civil rights team. She is a sounding board, mentor, proofreader, advice-giver, and the voice that continually encourages students to choose a book outside their comfort zone. Her favorite part of the job is building trust with teenagers and providing a safe space for them to explore their identities through literature.

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Jared Alan Smith is a chef, photographer, and ESE English instructor at Middleton High School in East Tampa, Florida. His pedagogy centers around intercultural digital communication, and he is passionate about eliminating state-mandated standardized assessments from primary and secondary schools. He is constantly seeking relevant and responsive literary resources so that he can help his students find unique inspiration and sustained success in pursuit of their individual goals.

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Nicole Smith is proudly serving her twenty-first year in public education as an instructional coach at Horace O’Bryant School in Key West. As a peer mentor and team leader, she is passionate about supporting and serving her colleagues and school community by creating and hosting academically meaningful experiences, speakers, and events to enrich and enhance student’s education. She is a native of Buffalo, New York.


Danielle Snyder is from Incline Village, Nevada. She teaches humanities and creative writing to seventh and eighth graders at Lake Tahoe School. She majored in television, film, and media studies at Cal State LA, where she played women’s basketball. As an educator, she often uses her experience as a student-athlete and her sports knowledge to connect with students in the classroom. She has a master’s degree from Whittier College.

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Dan Tobin teaches sixth grade English language arts at Rindge Ave Upper School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His classrooms are a rainbow of diversity, including many immigrant families and children from abroad whose parents study at nearby Harvard or MIT. Dan seeks to connect with and empower his students by encouraging a love of books—you might see kids in his classroom reading in some unusual places, such as on a high window shelf or under the sink.

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Clarissa West-White is a reference librarian and instructor at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. She teaches online composition courses, manages the library newsletter, creates libguides, and crafts programming for faculty and students. She plans to create a readers advisory libguide on the confluence of sports and literature to assist faculty in selecting works that may pique the interest of all students. She is married and has two sons.

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