Assistant Professors Crystal Chen Lee and Jackie Relyea to Receive Outstanding Engagement Awards

Crystal Chen Lee and Jackie Relyea, adjunct professors at NC State College of Education, were selected as NC State winners Office of Outreach and Engagement 2021 Outstanding Commitment Award.

The annual Outstanding Engagement Award recognizes faculty members who are nominated by their colleagues for their outstanding contribution to engagement efforts. Lee and Relyea will receive their awards in a virtual ceremony on April 14.

In addition, Lee will also be inducted into the executive council of the Academy of Outstanding Teachers in Outreach and Engagement, which is comprised of select recipients of the Outstanding Engagement and Outstanding Outreach Service Award based on relevance, impact and scholarship of their work.

“Awareness and engagement are key parts of who I am as a teacher, researcher and community member. I am touched and honored to be selected for this award and in particular to be inducted into the Executive Council of the Academy of Outstanding Teachers in Outreach and Engagement,” said Lee. “I am honored to join this group of exceptional teachers and hope to learn from them as well. I love working at a land-grant university where outreach and engagement are important aspects of our work as scholars. »

“I am humbled and honored to be selected for this award, as it recognizes my commitment to community-based research and practice to achieve equity and quality in K-6 literacy education, interdisciplinary collaboration and rigorous intellectual standards,” said Relyea. “I will continue to serve our communities in collaboration with colleagues, students and stakeholders and to share our knowledge and resources to meet important needs and have meaningful impacts on our communities.”

Partner with community organizations to amplify student voice

Over the past three years, Lee’s engagement work has focused largely on Literacy and Community Initiative (ILC)that she founded with the professor and Friday Institute for Educational Innovation Deputy director Jose Picart in January 2019.

LCI partners with four community organizations—Bull City YouthBuild, Juntos NC, CORRAL Riding Academy, and Refugee Hope Partners—that work with historically and currently underserved youth to examine and strengthen their voices through student publications, advocacy and leadership. Through its “Write, Engage and Lead” model, the Literacy and Community Initiative assesses the needs of young people by developing and facilitating the publication and dissemination of student-written stories and sharing student experiences with educational and political actors.

Since 2019, LCI has served more than 60 students through more than 200 hours of direct instruction, and students have published more than 250 writings as well as seven books. Three more books will be released in April 2022 and will be shared by student authors at LCI’s annual Celebration of Reading at 6:30 p.m. on May 3 at the Friday Institute.

“We want to amplify the voices of students who are often invisible or silenced in formal school spaces. We intend to reverse this narrative so students can lead other students in inspiring ways,” Lee said. “Our work with students is deep and relational, and we focus on the quality of the relationships we develop with our students. The work of community organizations is long term and we want to continue to develop relationships over the years.

Lee said preliminary research surrounding LCI shows that student participation in the initiative leads to increased social-emotional growth linked to self-determination, self-compassion, and self-efficacy.

Due to the unique setting of the Literacy and Community initiative and its impact on historically underrepresented communities, Lee and Picart were also invited by Routledge Publishing to co-author a book on the impacts of mainstreaming literacy criticism and youth development. The book is slated for release in August 2023, Lee said.

Improving Literacy During a Pandemic

When the College of Education’s Wolfpack Readers literacy tutoring program, originally developed by Associate Professor Dennis Davis, was impacted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Reylea led the development of the online after-school program iWolfpack Readers literacy tutoring program and launched it for elementary students at a Title I school in Wake County, North Carolina.

The aim was to provide a continuous learning experience for young children during school closures. In addition, the project aimed to ensure comprehensive and rigorous professional development for NC State graduate students, who serve as tutors for the program, through a strong supervised teaching practicum experience in grounded literacy teaching. on evidence; and to establish a lasting partnership between research and practice with practitioners, school administrators and parents with the common goal of improving literacy outcomes and engagement.

“Although many teacher education programs have encountered obstacles during the COVID-19 pandemic, I have adopted curricular and pedagogical innovations, with the aim of ensuring continuity of the teaching internship during school closures. schools and reconceptualize teacher education in reading that can provide student-teachers with authentic community-based teaching and learning experiences based on the iWolfpack Readers tutoring program,” Relyea said. “The development of the iWolfpack Readers program aims to help tutors improve their theoretical and practical knowledge of literacy and their ability to translate the knowledge base into practice in real pedagogical contexts.”

The iWoldpack Readers program is designed to promote increased exposure of elementary students to complex informational texts and to support the development of knowledge about science and social science content that students could leverage for higher-order text comprehension. . Relyea uses a similar model in her grant-funded work with Davis on a reading intervention for English language learners with reading comprehension difficulties.

Relyea has also been engaged in multi-university collaborative partnerships with Harvard University, MIT and Florida State University under the Reach Every Reader K-3 Literacy Initiative, which is funded by $30 million from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. In developing the educational components of the intervention program, the Relyea team collaborated with teachers, literacy workers, principals, school administrators, and parents from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District in North Carolina. His research on community literacy interventions has been widely published in journals such as Journal of Educational Psychology, Journal of Educational Psychology, Action in Teacher Educationand Education Research Journal.

Norma A. Roth