Featured Sessions

Literacy: A Liberatory, Civil Right
Presented by Dr. Julie Washington

Reading is the centerpiece of education in the United States from the time of school entry. Reading is recognized as essential for a successful future, and as such is regarded as a civil right. As a result, reading is being introduced at younger and younger ages. Despite this, fewer than half of children who are poor, brown, black and male are reading at grade level in 4th grade. The role of instruction, language variation, and deficit thinking are discussed in this training, including recommendations for improving outcomes going forward.

Speaker Bio (Click to view)

Dr. Julie Washington is a Professor in the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). Dr. Washington directs the UCI Learning Disabilities Research Innovation Hub and is Director of the Dialect, Poverty and Academic Success lab at UCI. Currently, Dr. Washington’s research is focused on the intersection of literacy, language variation, and poverty. In particular, her work focuses on understanding the role of cultural dialect in assessment of language competence and on identification of reading disabilities in school-aged African American children and on disentangling the relationship between language production and comprehension on development of reading and early language skills for children growing up in poverty.


Youth Speaks
Youth Performers

Organization Info: Youth Speaks offer multiple online and in-person events and activities for teens throughout the Bay and beyond the school year, including online writing and performance workshops, open mics, poetry slams, and more. Committed to critical youth-centered pedagogy, Youth Speaks elevates youth voice, action and leadership through local, national and international programming, solidifying its place as a home to incubate change.

Workshop Content Strands

Promoting Effective Practice: Evidence-based practices and approaches for improving literacy instruction and student reading in and out of the classroom.

Let’s Get Aligned: Partnering for impact, building collective vision, and working together to support literacy across school, home, and community.

Parents in the Driver’s Seat: Centering parent leadership, parent-driven models for learning, and parent-school-community partnerships.

Literacy and Social Justice: Justice, healing, and identity.

Leadership for Literacy: Cultivating literacy leaders and champions. Supporting system-level change.


It’s Not The Swing of the Pendulum: Reading & The Brain
The Right to Read Project – Lani Medick and Margaret Goldberg

Description: In this training, Margaret and I will give an overview of well-established findings of the reading research.  We then will engage in an interactive workshop regarding the 4 part-processor and how the brain learns to read. We will relate this to best practices at the systems and classroom level to give student access to their civil right to read.

Bios (Click to view)

Lani is currently the Assistant Principal of Instruction at Ascend, a TK-8th grade Title 1 school in Oakland, California. She was previously a teacher of students in TK-6th, a reading interventionist, and an Early Literacy Lead of a grant-funded Early Literacy Cohort in Oakland Unified (with Margaret). She has supported district leads, principals, coaches, teachers and tutors in systematically bringing reading research to practice in classrooms – keeping student outcomes at the center. She joined The Right to Read Project because she firmly believes that learning to read is a civil right and works to give as many students equitable access to this right. You can hear her in podcasts, such as the APM Reports documentary At a Loss for Words and Amplify’s Science of Reading Podcast.

Margaret has held a variety of roles in Oakland Unified including district Early Literacy Lead, site-based literacy coach and reading interventionist. In every role she’s worked to help teachers and leaders align instruction with reaching research. She is the co-founder of The Right to Read Project, a group of teachers, researchers and activists committed to the pursuit of equity through literacy.

Her writing is published on The Right to Read Project blog righttoreadproject.com and on Reading Rockets readingrockets.org/blogs/right-to-read.


Agentic Students + Literacy
Energy Convertors – Charles Cole II and Students

Description: Our training will focus on the intersection of literacy + agency by showing how our student-led reports lift all boats through literacy. Our methods impact both policy goals and, what we have coined as Agentic goals. Agentic goals give youth and their community tools immediately while still working to improve systems around them. Literacy is at the center of this.

Energy Convertors fellows and staff will discuss A-G completion rates in a manor that will:

  1. a) make the community AWARE of the brokenness within the A-G system across Oakland
  2. b) educate the community on how to NAVIGATE the current system while offering concrete steps to improve it, and
  3. c) create a sense of DUTY to spread our research and data in hopes to improve rates moving forward
Bio (Click to view)

Charles Cole, III is an educator focused on the advancement of all youth of color but more specifically Black males. The passion comes from his own experiences growing up without proper support. His life’s goal is to better the communities he grew up in through his work. Through Energy Convertors, he is able to help students activate their leadership by building and supporting students to realize their agency and improve systems in which they are most impact.


Early Literacy Kings Project
Early Literacy Kings Project – Taji Brown and Khalil Chatmon

Description: Participants in this workshop will be exposed to the framework of the Early Literacy Kings Project in their attempt to create pathways for young men of color and improve literacy with our young scholars. We will share key components in working with a collaborative in creating pathways to education for young men of color. We will share components around supporting conditions for learning and supporting young readers. We will share data and learning from the previous year. Finally, we will dialog with kings who are a part of the program.

Bios (Click to view)

Taji Brown is Oakland Unified School District Office of Equity Program Manager with 20 years of youth development and case management experience. As Program Manager he led in the development of the Early Literacy Kings (previously known as the Men of Color Early Literacy Project).

Taji is a husband and father. He believes to truly transform the lives of our young scholars we must engage with their family. In addition, he is committed to creating a pipeline for young men of color to become educators.

Kahlil Chatmon is a 21 year old native of Oakland California.  Currently pursuing a BA in Anthropology, working as a media coordinator for Kingmakers, and an Early literacy king for Piedmont Avenue Elementary School. A lifelong advocate for Black lives and liberation.


Arguing the Case for Student Learning
Education Coalition for Hispanics in Oakland (ECHO) – Emma Roos, Lily Wong, Peter Roos & Kenji Hakuta

Description: In this workshop we present a three-pronged argument for student learning:  what do students require to thrive academically; what role must schools and school leadership play in creating and supporting conditions for learning; and finally, how can the community support the efforts of schools and students in promoting literacy and learning?  We will argue the case from our perspectives as advocates for educational equity, as community activists, and as participants in research and policy arenas.  We hope participants will engage in a discussion of student learning, what stands in its way, and what can be done to improve learning outcomes.   

Bios (Click to view)

Emma Chavez Roos is the founder and executive director of Educational coalition for Hispanics in Oakland (ECHO), a program which is devoted to increasing educational opportunities and outcomes for the children of Oakland.  Emma’s career as an educational advocate began as an elementary school teacher in Oakland but her work has expanded far beyond that since leaving the classroom.  Since then, she has built a coalition of parents, community leaders and educators to expand support services for students through tutoring and mentoring, creating an honor roll that encouraged students to excel academically, and securing scholarships for students to continue their studies.

Lily Wong Fillmore is the Jerome Hutto Professor in Education Emerita at the University of California at Berkeley.  A linguist by training, she has had more than 5 decades of involvement in the language and literacy education of children from linguistically diverse backgrounds. Her recent work with organizations such as the Council of Great City Schools, Student Achievement Partners, and the English Learner Success Forum has given her a broad view of what can get in the way of meaningful instructional change in schools.

Peter D. Roos is a retired Educational Equity attorney. He tried and argued Plyler v Doe (1982) and Goss v López (1975) successfully in the U.S. Supreme Court. He was lead or co-lead attorney in virtually every language rights case in the country between 1976 and 2008 as well as participant in a number of other equity initiatives.

Kenji Hakuta is the Lee L. Jacks professor of education, emeritus, at Stanford University. A developmental psycholinguist by training, he has authored many publications on language, bilingualism, and education. He has testified to Congress and the courts on language policy, the education of language minority students, affirmative action in higher education, and improvement of quality in educational research. He is a recognized expert in the relationship between students’ oral language and learning. Over the past decade, he directed the Understanding Language initiative at Stanford, focused on the role of language in the Common Core Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards.


Math in Storybooks
Tandem, Partners in Early Learning – Paola Bea and Yolanda Romo-Gonzalez

Description: It is now common knowledge that literacy and language development are critical components of children’s kindergarten readiness. Guess what else predicts school readiness and positive academic outcomes? Early math skills. This workshop explores the intersection of early math, literacy, and language development, highlighting how any picture book can promote children’s knowledge and understanding of foundational math concepts. It introduces participants to key strategies for incorporating math talk/ideas into book sharing experiences, fostering a greater sense of comfort and familiarity with math for children, families, and educators. The books featured in this workshop are drawn from Tandem’s diverse and inclusive collection.

A robust understanding of early math concepts is a powerful predictor of children’s later learning outcomes, across all areas of learning not only in STEM but also in literacy and language arts. In mathematics, like other domains, racial disparities are significant:  Black and Latino students typically have fewer opportunities for high-quality, culturally responsive early math learning experiences. Promoting children’s understanding of early math concepts is, therefore, an issue of literacy and justice.  

Bios (Click to view)

Paola Bea is currently an Early Learning Specialist at Tandem, Partners in Early Learning and has been in the Early Childhood Development field since 2008. She manages StoryCycles book rotation programming in over 50 sites (EHS, HS, CDC, and FCC facilities) in Alameda County and provides services that support early learning to children, such as read alouds in the classrooms or zoom classrooms, playgroups, workshops for families, educators and community partners who are serving families with young children. She has an AA Degree in Liberal Arts, AS Degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences, AS Degree in Early Childhood Development, and completed 3 years of study at University of the Philippines majoring in Visual Communication. Her all time favorite children’s book is “Everyone Poops” by Taro Gomi and her favorite age groups are the infants and toddlers.

Yolanda Romo-Gonzalez After graduating from UC Davis, Yolanda taught at a bilingual elementary school, and the most favorite part of her day was reading with her first graders. As an Early Learning Specialist at Tandem, Partners in Early Learning, she is excited to continue working with children, families and the community while sharing her love for reading and her passion for literacy and language development. As a child, she enjoyed reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Corduroy, and she has been delighted to expand her collection of favorites during her time at Tandem. Yolanda holds a BA in Psychology and Spanish; she is a Teach for America alumna, and has completed coursework to obtain a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. During her free time, Yolanda enjoys spending time outdoors and exploring new coffee shops and bakeries.


Life As Primary Text: An Experiential Youth Speaks Writing Workshop for Educators
Youth Speaks – Gabriel Cortez and Sandy Vazquez

Description: Through writing workshops, open mics, poetry slams, rap battles, and more, Youth Speaks encourages students to find, develop, publicly present, and apply their voice, identity, power, and imagination towards societal change. This interactive session will introduce you to Youth Speaks practices and pedagogy by allowing you to experience what it’s like to be in a Youth Speaks writing and performance workshop. Afterwards, we will break down the experience so you leave with concrete tools and understanding for how to better activate the voices of your participants in fun and liberatory ways.

Bios (Click to view)

Gabriel Cortez is a Black biracial poet, educator, and organizer of Panamanian descent. His work has appeared in The New York Times, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, The Rumpus, and The Breakbeat Poets Anthology Volume 4. He is a VONA fellow, #BARS workshop alum, NALAC grant recipient, and winner of the Judith Lee Stronach Baccalaureate Prize. Gabriel works as Director of Programs at Youth Speaks, one of the world’s leading presenters of spoken word performance, education, and youth development programs.

Sandy Vazquez is an interdisciplinary artist and arts educator born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. In 2016, she graduated from UCLA with a dual degree in Dance and Chicanx Studies. Through her performance work, she has featured on stages such as The John Anson Ford Theater, The Broad Stage, The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Brava Theater, and the Harare International Festival of the Arts. As the daughter of working class undocumented Mexican immigrants, she has committed her life’s work to honoring her community, ancestry, and lineage by making space for dialogue on the stage and in the classroom. Sandy currently resides in Oakland, CA working as the Associate Director of Programs for Youth Speaks and performs regularly with San Francisco based company, La Mezcla.


Intervention is Racist
3Ls Academy: Literacy, Leadership & Liberation – Sabrina “Bri” Moore and Precious James

Description: If you’re working at any level, in the development of antiracist learning cultures, do not miss this workshop grounded on the practical pedagogy of antiracist practice in literacy learning and leadership. Teachers and leaders of literacy will leave this session with concrete moves to interrupt practices and policies of literacy learning that perpetuate outcomes predictable by race. Be ready to do the heavy lifting and learning for better literacy outcomes. As-well-as have some learning fun with P and Bri. Being an antiracist in literacy learning and leading requires action not more words of advocacy; acceleration, relationship, rigor & relevance matters.

Bios (Click to open)

Sabrina “Bri” Moore, is an Oakland native. She has been a student, teacher, principal and is now a Program Director in service of Oakland.

Bri came to education as a career changer. She remembers the day she made the decision to leave a 15 year career with AT&T Telecommunications for teaching.

She recently earned her doctorate of education in social justice from CSUEB in pursuit of the OUSD Superintendent’s seat.

Bri believes teaching and leading changes lives and strives for excellence in education. When asked to describe her leadership style, Doc Bri says she sees herself as, “an anti-racist liberatory leader who is unapologetically Black, Proud and pushing for kids that look like me, come from where I come from and deserve way more than we get”, she is dedicated to speaking truth to racism to change systems, practices and policies that stay perpetuating hate and marginalizing folk.

Precious James is a Teacher on Special Assignment at Madison Park Academy Primary. She was named 2019-2021 OUSD Teacher of the Year. She is #KIDSFIRST, passionate about mathematics, and believes in the joy of education to transform lives and liberate. She earned Bachelors of Arts in Religious Studies and Mathematics at University of California, Riverside, her Multiple Subjects credential at Holy Names University, and her Masters of Education in Math and STEM Education at Concordia University, Portland.

In her current position Precious supports the Primary team in the development of an Antiracist learning culture. When asked what that means she said, “Being antiracist means that learning is centered contextually on who our kids are and that they receive every day a teacher who operates with ALL Kids Can in heart and mind and that learning is grounded in grade-level expectations, strong instruction, and academically rigorous high expectations.


Help Wanted: Change Managers for Literacy Instruction
FULCRUM – Kareem Weaver

Description: Change is hard, and managing it is even harder. But the reality for schools, educators, and parents is that effectively shifting the approach to reading instruction takes more than a new curriculum. This session will explore the importance of change management related to literacy shifts.  Feelings of loss, shame, anger, and grief (related to reading instruction) will be examined.

A pathway forward, towards managing change, will be crafted with attendees who work within schools, systems, and organizations.  Parents are also welcome to attend.

Bio (Click to view)

Kareem Weaver is a leader of Full and Complete Reading is a Universal Mandate (FULCRUM) which partners with various stakeholders to improve reading results for students. He is also a member of the Oakland and California NAACP Education Committees. Previously, Kareem served as New Leaders’ Executive Director of the Western Region and was an award-winning teacher and administrator in Oakland, California, and Columbia, South Carolina. Kareem has undergraduate degrees from Morehouse College and a master’s in Clinical-Community Psychology from the University of South Carolina.

Born in Oakland and reared in Richmond, Kareem has deep roots within the East Bay community and a keen understanding of its challenges and opportunities. He believes in the potential of all students, the brotherhood of man, and the importance of service above self. His educational heroine, for literacy instruction, is the late Marva Collins.


Support Dual Language Learners with SEEDS Repeated Read Aloud
CARES for Learning- Bernadette Pilar Zermeno

Description: Helping children and families engage with print and books that mirror their experiences and support language development is essential in early education. Come and learn tips and strategies to cultivate self-love and language development through the use of CARES for Learning Repeated Read Aloud to support dual language learners! We will discuss the importance of book choice, new vocabulary, and question development. Have fun while learning!

Bio (Click to view)

Bernadette Pilar is passionate about Early Childhood. She has taken her passion and drive for supporting the earliest learners outside of the walls of TK and into an adult setting, focusing on Bay Area Preschools, TK and Kindergarten teachers. In addition to being a literacy specialist and Preschool/ TK professional development provider with CARES for Learning, she currently works also as an Adjunct Professor of Early Childhood at Chabot College in Hayward, and a SEEDS coach. She has presented at a national education conference on research focusing on dual language immersion in early education, and she continues to research new, effective ways to support home language as an asset.

Bernadette’s drive and determination for early education and transformational change has led her to pursue humanizing ethnic studies education in early education while working on her doctorate at Mills College.

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