CLA Newest Members

Jessica Segen, Sponsored by Lettie Albright

Jessica & Harper SegenI received my Bachelor’s degree from the University of Akron in Early Childhood Education. I began my teaching career as a substitute teacher and later became a Title 1 tutor for Math and Reading. I am now currently teaching 3rd Grade at a private school in Beachwood, Ohio. I am head of the Math Cohort committee and a mentor for new teachers. A large part of my day is focused on reading and writing. I am constantly monitoring each student's reading development and grouping them based on strategies and skills they need to focus on. I create very specific activities that help the students strengthen their area of focus. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my husband and our 1 year old daughter.


Jone MacCulloch, sponsored by Mary Lee Hahn

Jone MacCullochI am thrilled to welcome Jone MacCulloch as a new member of the Children’s Literature Assembly. Jone writes: As a child I begged to hear fairytales and Bible stories. I numbered my book collection to organize them. I didn’t understand at the time but this was first portent of my calling to be an elementary school library media specialist. Once I learned to read and could master the bicycle, the public library was my favorite destination.

I followed in the steps of my grandmother, aunt, and father by attending college and getting my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. My passion grew for teaching reading, writing, and research to fourth and fifth graders in my early years of teaching. The day I discovered that I could get my Master’s Degree with an emphasis in school library media was a life-changing event. Teach in the library and teach my favorite topics? I never looked back.

As a K-5 library media specialist at Silver Star Elementary School, I teach twenty-one classes a week. I am also responsible for collection development (think getting to buy books for the library), supporting teachers with their curriculum, along with promoting reading. At lunch, I host a poetry workshop for second and third graders. Student poems have appeared at my “Check It Out” blog. Students also send poetry postcards to recipients throughout the world for National Poetry Month. This is our fifth year for this project.

I am currently the chairperson of the poetry category of the CYBILS Award. I am a member of the Haiku Society of America.

Meridith Saffelder, sponsored by Deborah Wooten

Merideth SaffelderI am glad to introduce Meridith Saffelder as a new member of the Children’s Literature Assembly.  Meridith is an avid reader, a divergent thinker, and lifelong fan of children’s literature.  She noted, “I was raised on Aesop’s Fables, The American Girl series, The Chronicles of Narnia, thanks to my mother who cared enough about my imagination to spend her evenings after a hard day at work reading to me.” Meridith, as an adult, is beginning her career teaching English in the secondary school environment after obtaining her Master’s Degree in Education through the University of Tennessee’s five-year teacher training program.  Her goal as a teacher is to “do everything within [her] power to promote reading in the classroom and outside of school.  Whether they are reading children’s picture books, graphic novels, or young adult literature, my classroom is going to be a place where reading is as fun as it is essential.”  In addition to passing down the legacy her mother gave her in the classroom, Meridith plans to pass the tradition on to her 5-year-old daughter: “When she was just a baby, I’d read Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats aloud to her; I plan to keep reading to her as long as she’ll let me!” Please join me in welcoming Meridith as a new member to CLA!

Susan Corapi, sponsored by Kathy G. Short

Susan CorapiWelcome to Susan Corapi as a new member of the Children’s Literature Assembly.  Susan is a reader and always has a book in hand. She loves all types of stories from oral to artistic to print and is excited that her childhood love of story has become a career.  She is currently a doctoral student in children’s literature at the University of Arizona, where she teaches a survey course in children’s literature and immerses preservice teachers in many kinds of experiences with books.  She also facilitates an on-line forum for teachers who are part of K-12 literacy communities that are exploring the integration of global literature into their curriculum.  Susan has been a public librarian, classroom teacher, and French immersion teacher and has lived in Canada, the Ivory Coast, and France.  She is particularly interested in global literature as a way to build intercultural understanding and cultural mediation in translations of books across cultures.  Susan is Chair of the Hans Christian Anderson Committee for USBBY.  Please join me in welcoming Susan to CLA. 

Leah Smith Berkman, sponsored by Lettie Albright

Leah Smith BerkmanI am pleased to introduce our newest CLA member and my new niece-in-law. Leah says, "I have been a lifelong lover of children's literature! In college I first focused on an English degree and when it came time to decide where I was going with it I knew the route I wanted had to involve reading and talking about books - and what better kind than adolescent lit! I have worked to become a K-12 certified Language Arts teacher in North Carolina and currently work with wonderful 5th graders at Voyager Academy in Durham. I believe that my love of literature is one of the ways I am able to connect with my students as I devour the new popular reads and have those excited countdowns for the next in a series being released. Adolescent lit has such purity of characters and easily digestible life lessons and it also has all the action and adventure of an adult read." Please join me in welcoming Leah to CLA!

Saba Vlach, sponsored by Claudia Haag

Saba VlachLet me introduce one of our newest CLA members to the group! Her name is Saba Vlach and she is currently a second grade teacher in Arlington, Texas. She has just completed her Master’s in Reading with a focus on culturally conscious literature and reader response from Texas Woman’s University. I was honored to get to know Saba first as a student in one of my graduate courses on diversity and have since been able to work with her as she completed her thesis here at TWU. For those of you who were able to attend the 2010 Literacy and the Arts CLA Workshop, you might recall all the wonderful student artistic responses on the walls. Several of those items came from Saba’s second graders. Saba is currently on the panel to present at the 2011 CLA Workshop and will be sharing her current research with African-American 2nd-graders and African-American picture books. She looks forward to joining the group and has also graciously volunteered to be part of our Outreach Committee for 2011. Please join me in welcoming her to the group!

Sally F. Heineke

Dr. Sally HeinekeI am delighted to introduce my colleague Sally Heineke as a new member of the Children’s Literature Assembly! Sally serves as an assistant professor of reading for the College of Education at Sam Houston State University in Texas. Following 20 plus years as a public educator in K/12 settings, she now teaches undergraduate pre-service teachers with an emphasis on integrating children’s literature into literacy methods courses. Her research interests center on the use of language in social contexts to build comprehension and spans the use of language within the discourse of professional development as well as classroom discourse. Welcome, Sally! You will be a wonderful addition to our organization! Joan Williams


Anita Gonzalez, sponsored by Pat Scharer

Anita GonzalesAnita writes, “My love for books began at the age of 3 thanks to my parents, who shared stories with me night after night. From Alice to Aslan to Amelia, hours of reading eventually led to a career in education. With a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, I became a teacher with a love for introducing children to literature and an excitement for fostering a passion for reading in my students. I spent 14 years teaching primary school children, with 8 of those years in the wonderful world of kindergarten. Curiosity and a need for helping struggling children learn to read, I worked for a master’s degree in reading and became a reading specialist, a literacy coach and later, an adjunct lecturer in preservice teacher education. My curiosities and passions for literacy have brought me to The Ohio State University to pursue a doctorate degree in Reading and Literacy in Early and Middle Childhood. Currently, I teach undergraduate preservice educators and am learning about Reading Recovery through coursework and implementation with students. As I gain knowledge surrounding the many aspects of literacy and focus on reading difficulties, I also learn about children’s literature and think about ways to use these wonderful resources of knowledge with children during intervention and in the classroom.” Please join Pat in welcoming Anita to CLA