Closing the Achievement Gap: Promoting Access & Equity through Literacy

Join us to learn how to ensure every child has the opportunity for literacy success in the educational system by confronting social justice factors that contribute to the achievement gap. You can attend part or all of the literacy series.

Workshop Dates & Location

All events take place at Lesley University, 1815 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140. Find a place to stay in the area.

  • March 18, 2020 (1-day workshop): Lester Laminack
  • April 16, 2020 (1-day workshop): Sonja Cherry-Paul
  • July 20-23, 2020 (4-day institute): Cornelius and Kass Minor

Cost and Registration

1-day workshop: $295 per workshop (8:30 am–2:30 pm, includes boxed lunch and book)

Register for March 18 with Lester Laminack.

Register for April 16 with Sonja Cherry-Paul.

4-day institute: $895 (8:00 am–3:45 pm, noncredit, includes book)

Register for July 20–23 with Cornelius and Kass Minor.

The 4-day Summer Literacy Institute is also offered for graduate credit. Email for more information.

  • Diversity Scholarship

    The Center for Reading Recovery & Literacy Collaborative at Lesley University believes that teacher diversity matters. This scholarship is dedicated to creating access for educators from racial, ethnic and cultural background that are historically underrepresented in professional development programs, and those who are teaching literacy in under-resourced communities in the United States.

    Application Deadlines:

    • February 19 – Deadline for the March 18 Speaker Series Event
    • March 19 – Deadline for the April 16 Speaker Series Event
    • June 29 – Deadline for the July 20-23 Speaker Series Event


    Recipients of this scholarship will be notified 2 weeks prior to each event. The recipients must complete their registration form by the designated deadline. Recipients are responsible for making their own travel and hotel arrangements. Refer to the Center’s website for additional conference, hotel and descriptions of the various professional development opportunities. By submitting an application, entrants agree to the use of their names and/or likeness for advertising, promotional and publicity purposes without written consent or compensation.

    Apply now by completing this online application.

  • Sponsorship

    Show your support. Whether you are an individual contributor, a small business or a large one, your tax-deductible donation will help advance the knowledge of education professionals, a critical factor for ensuring that every child has the opportunity to live a literate life.

    Tiered sponsorship levels are available. You can also Sponsor one or more deserving educators through a Diversity Scholarship.

    For full details, call Barbara Brammer at 617-349-8422 or email

Lester Laminack
March 18, 2020

Reading to Make a Difference: Using Literature to Help Students Speak Freely, Think Deeply, and Take Action
Sonja Cherry-Paul
April 16, 2020

Book Clubs for a Better World: Reimagining Reading Instruction as Liberatory Spaces
Cornelius and Kass Minor
July 20–23, 2020 (Annual Summer Literacy Institute)

Reaching All Learners: Taking Action for Equity to Close the Achievement Gap
Lester Laminack Headshot

March 18, 2020: Lester Laminack

Reading to Make a Difference: Using Literature to Help Students Speak Freely, Think Deeply, and Take Action

Register now for March 18 with Lester Laminack.

Building off the work of Rudine Sims Bishop we will extend the notion of literature as windows, mirrors, and doors to create more inclusive classrooms. Because identity influences our choices and our perceptions of what we read it is important to broaden students’ view of the world through diverse literature. In our classrooms, shared read aloud experiences can help students find value in their complex identities while honoring new perspectives other than their own. 

Participants will examine the presence of mirrors, windows, and doors in a carefully selected collection of literature. Together we will examine our personal identities and reflect on how these influence the selection of texts we make available for students. We will explore an instructional framework that enables you and your students to delve into diverse literature to help students build empathy, speak freely, think deeply and take action. 

Participants in this workshop will: 

  • Deepen an appreciation for the importance of diverse literature 
  • Evaluate their classroom libraries for the inclusion of diverse literature 
  • Utilize the provided instructional framework to design future instruction
  • Evaluate a collection of literature for potential mirrors, windows, and doors
  • Consciously examine personal bias and the limitations it places on the selection and use of diverse literature

Cost: $295 (includes book and boxed lunch)

Register now for March 18 with Lester Laminack.

Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul Headshot

April 16, 2020: Sonja Cherry-Paul

Book Clubs for a Better World: Reimagining Reading Instruction as Liberatory Spaces

Register now for April 16 with Sonja Cherry-Paul.

The benefits of book clubs extend far beyond reading comprehension and academic gains. Together, we’ll explore the possibilities of book clubs as brave spaces where students reflect on their racial identities, read and discuss books that affirm them, and challenge inequities. We’ll bring greater clarity around the term “culturally relevant” and construct book clubs as spaces to disrupt normalized models and exclusionary practices of “knowing” in order to honor and affirm the racial and cultural identities of students. Book clubs have an indelible influence on students as they develop as critical thinkers, lifelong readers, and change makers in the world. They have the potential to shift the teacher/student power dynamics and become liberatory spaces where students take ownership over their own reading lives. 

Cost: $295 (includes book and boxed lunch)

Register now for April 16 with Sonja Cherry-Paul.

Kass Minor Cornelius Minor Headshots Side by Side

July 20–23, 2020: Cornelius and Kass Minor

Reaching All Learners: Taking Action for Equity to Close the Achievement Gap

Register now for July 20-23 with Cornelius and Kass Minor.

As educators, we often wonder how to be responsive to students when their needs, communities, backgrounds, and experiences are different from ours. We strive to provide reading and writing opportunities for all children that are engaging and responsive to them. But too often current reading instruction leaves too many with negative reading identities, complicating the work even further. We know that reading does not happen in isolation. However, because so many people treat it this way, many kids are left out of a positive culture of reading that will contribute to their success.  

Participants will leave this institute with concrete ways to think about how to connect reading to students’ lives, communities, and aspirations. We will examine reading identity and how it intersects with racial, gender, and class identity. Throughout the institute, participants will learn how to effectively respond to the students in front of them through exploring student identity; observing students; and conducting authentic assessment. We will consider how powerful reading experiences are the means for both student reading growth and for building and shifting powerful learning communities.

The institute will be led by The Minor Collective, a community-based movement designed to foster sustainable change in schools, established by Kassandra Minor, an inclusive educator, and Cornelius Minor, literacy leader and author of We Got This. Equity, Access, and the Quest to Be Who Our Students Need Us to Be​​​​​​. Lesley University faculty will also guide you in your thinking around these topics.

You can take the institute for noncredit and earn 24 professional development hours, or take it for 2 or 3 graduate credits.


  • Non-credit: $895 (includes required text)
  • Graduate credit: $2,090 for 2 credits; $3,065 for 3 credits ($975/credit + $40 registration fee + $100 for required texts). Email to register for graduate credit.

Register now for July 20-23 with Cornelius and Kass Minor.

Contact Us
If you have any questions, please contact the Lesley University Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative.