Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Alma Stevenson

Basic literacy skills are the foundation to
success in school and most careers; however, several studies have shown about two-thirds
of Georgia’s third grade students read below grade level. Faculty in Georgia Southern University’s
College of Education are working to address this problem. One is Associate Professor Alma Stevenson,
who researches and teaches literacy education. I am passionate about literacy because literacy
skills are essential, are essential for everyday life. It impacts everything not just your achievement
at school but also impacts your jobs. Impacts how you read and interpret news. In fact, even when you’re going to fill a
prescription bottle you need to be able to understand what you are reading. Dr. Stevenson is a faculty member in the Department
of Curriculum, Foundations and Reading. She has worked as an educator in Texas, New
Mexico and Georgia for more than two decades. In her research, she explores the intersection
of literacy skills and STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics content in school
curricula. She is particularly interested in the role
of home languages and cultures as sources of support and positive identity formation
in historically underserved minorities, especially Latinos and African Americans. Currently she is part of a statewide gear-up
Georgia grant project that serves eighth and tenth grade teachers. My role there is to infuse literacy or also
culturally responsive literacy pedagogy’s into math and science instruction. In another project, Dr. Stevenson and College
of Education faculty member Dr. Scott Beck received a service grant from Georgia Southern
to support a summer literacy project in Candler County for the children of migrant farm workers. The children were evaluated at the beginning
and end of the program. There was an average 16 percent increase in
their reading and writing scores. The project built the students’ literacy
skills by having them read and respond in writing to dozens of books depicting migrant
families like their own. Some of them were reluctant readers. Many of them were below grade level in their
writing skills and they definitely felt encouraged they read lots of books with themes related
to migrants. Some of them they didn’t like, some of them
they liked they were very critical they expressed their opinions and at the end they created
their own story it was a multilingual picture storybook. Multiple faculty members have used the book
in teacher education courses here at Georgia Southern and faculty from other universities
as far away as Texas and New York have shared the book in their courses to help teachers
understand the challenges migrant children face. Dr. Stevenson received her master’s degree
from the University of Texas at El Paso and her doctorate in Literacy, Language and Culture
from New Mexico State University. She has been at Georgia Southern since 2011. Working in the College of Education has been
a great experience for me. I have found a lot of support to pursue my
research and my service and my professional goals. I believe that teaching or preparing teachers
is a great responsibility. I always talk to my students about the importance
of being well prepared and that I tell them who knows how many lives you will be touching
throughout your careers!

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