With a B.A. from the University of Illinois, Patricia Tylka began her teaching career as a high school English/speech teacher and theater director. After completing reading courses through Northern Illinois University and a Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning through St. Xavier University, Patti became a Project CRISS district trainer, a Kagan Cooperative Learning associate trainer, and an Illinois Writing Project leader. Retired from the high school classroom, Patti currently teaches PSAT and ACT Test Preparation courses for ExcelEdge, works as a consultant with the DuPage Regional Office of Education, and teaches courses through Aurora University, and is a Senior Academic Assistant in the College of DuPage Learning Center. Wearing several hats has allowed Patti to observe and affect literacy instruction at the student, classroom teacher and school, and district levels. Throughout her teaching career, Patti has continued to facilitate staff development workshops at local, state and national venues. Each of these encounters has enriched her understanding of the professional needs of teachers and the literacy essentials for students. A member of the Day of Reading Steering Committee, Patti helps to make expert teachers, researchers and young-adult authors available for educators’ professional development.
Janel Sebeny has been an educator for thirteen years. Janel began her career teaching 4th grade at Northpoint Elementary. At this time, Janel went back to school to begin her Masters in Reading. Kingsley Junior High School (KJHS) opened in 2003, which was the beginning of Janel’s middle school reading teaching experience. However, she moved to Edwardsville, Illinois in 2004 where she became the Director of Education at Sylvan Learning. After just seven short months, Janel became the Center Director and was offered a Regional Director position to oversee both the Edwardsville and Alton, Illinois centers. Janel moved back to Normal, Illinois in 2006 where she immediately picked up where she left off at KJHS. Although her experience as a Director gave her insight to parent teacher relationships and management experience, her heart was with teaching reading. Since 2006, Janel has taught 7th grade Literature and Composition at KJHS. Teaching reading is a passion and fuels her desire to be involved in other literacy related associations to spread literacy goals across the building and district. Her additional responsibilities include: ELA Department Chair and CORE Building Leadership Team. Janel obtained her Masters in Reading in 2012 and completed certification as Reading Teacher and Reading Specialist in 2013.
Priscilla Dwyer has been an educator for 15 years. She earned her BA in Elementary Education from Governors State University and her MSE in Elementary Reading and Literacy from Walden University. Priscilla Dwyer has taught K-8 Music, second grade and fifth grade. She currently teaches in Kankakee School District where she has served on the curriculum council, the PERA teacher evaluation team, the district MTSS committee and she is the head union representative for her building. Priscilla created and has run a successful Mentor Program and a Parent Involvement Committee at her school for the past ten years. In 2014, Priscilla was initiated in Delta Kappa Gamma, Upsilon Chapter, and works locally to promote the professional and personal growth of female educators through educational workshops and collaboration. She has worked hard to support literacy education in her Kankakee County community through work with Two Rivers Reading Council, both as a member and a board member. On the state level, Priscilla has presented at various conferences throughout the state including the Illinois Reading Conference on topics such as: helping parents and community members get involved in literacy education, using data to drive students goal setting and the Illinois Reads Statewide Book Club. She has worked one on one with school districts such as Dalton School District 148, helping them to implement The Daily Five and Daily Café literacy management program. Priscilla serves as an Illinois Certified Mentor to new teachers in her district, helping them to navigate the CCSS and the demands of the new teacher evaluation and PARCC. She currently serves Illinois Reading Council as the Regional Director for Region 5 and is an active member of IRC, helping whenever and wherever she is asked to serve. Priscilla especially loves volunteering at the yearly IRC Conference and getting to know IRC members throughout the state. She is a member of the International Literacy Association and hopes to serve them further in the future. Her love of literacy is evident through her daily participation in education, conversations and activities revolving around reading.
Louis Ferroli’s career began as a fifth-grade teacher in Plainfield, Illinois. He started a master’s program in administration, but first took a reading course because he was so unprepared to teach reading. He got hooked and entered the Reading Program at NIU. As a classroom teacher, Lou began to experiment with response to literature, cloze exercises, and informal reading inventories. After three years in fifth-grade, he took a position teaching remedial reading to 3rd through 5th graders in Joliet, Illinois where he learned that with plenty of effective, focused instruction, he could actually help kids who struggled with reading to do a whole lot better. He also learned that if he didn’t do so well, kids didn’t seem to get better on their own. After two years in remedial reading, Lou finished his master’s and took a job as a Reading Consultant working with kindergarten through sixth-grade teachers. During this time, Lou learned a lot about teaching second-language learners. He also began to develop some expertise in remedial work with older readers who still needed to improve in word identification. He stayed for twelve years. It was his last job before moving on to Rockford University. During this period, Lou began his doctoral work at the University of Illinois at Chicago–a serious research university–his earliest research was on “developmental spelling” in both English and Spanish. Other studies he has done or been a part of concern phonemic awareness assessment, “Schools That Improve on the IGAP,” norming the Illinois Snapshot of Early Literacy, teaching college level courses to both undergraduate and graduate students in the same class, and determining word list criteria. He continued to develop a specialty in remedial reading with older readers. He was the author and director of Rockford University’s Reading Specialist. In the Illinois Reading Council, Lou has been a local and special interest council president, an officer at the state level, and a member of the IRC Board of Directors. He was the Chair of the IRC Obama Literacy Fund which annually awards a classroom library of culturally relevant adolescent literature to a deserving Illinois teacher. He also writes the “Cool Studies” column for the Illinois Reading Council Communicator. In 2011, Lou was also inducted into the IRC Hall of Fame. Lou once won recognition from the U.S. Army as the “Outstanding Reservist Instructor,” so he can teach you how to put on camouflage paint and crawl under barbed-wire, should the need arise. He is also proud to have won the Rockford College’s “Excellence in Teach Award” in 1996, the college’s 150th year.
Joyce Jennings began her teaching career at Liberty Elementary School, in Liberty, South Carolina, in a cross-age Special Education classroom. While at Liberty, Joyce began graduate studies at Clemson University in Reading and became involved in the National Reading Conference. Upon completing her Master’s Degree in Reading, Joyce’s family relocated to Atlanta, Georgia and she became the Reading Specialist at Flat Shoals School, in DeKalb County Public Schools. After her first child was born in 1976, Joyce shifted to part-time positions, including community college instruction in developmental reading and writing and preschool teaching to maintain her connection to literacy learning. She also volunteered in area schools throughout this time. When her younger child entered school, Joyce began to pursue a doctoral degree in Reading and Literacy at National-Louis University, with a minor in Writing Instruction. During this time, she also taught a transitional kindergarten class and pursued research in early literacy. She requested and received approval to complete her minor work in Writing Instruction through two Summer Institutes at the University of New Hampshire. While pursuing her doctoral degree, Joyce was awarded the Student Research Award by the National Reading Conference. She was also invited to participate in a collaborative professional development project between National-Louis University and Northeastern Illinois University with Chicago Public Schools. Thus began her interaction with Chicago Public Schools and her relationship with Northeastern Illinois University. As she neared the end of her doctoral studies, Joyce joined the Department of Reading at NEIU. She has taught Reading Education and developmental reading classes as well as directing the university’s Literacy Center, a diagnostic and instructional setting for struggling readers and writers. In addition, Joyce has served as Chair of the Departments of Literacy Education and Teacher Education. She is also first author of Reading Problems: Assessment and Teaching Strategies, with JoAnne Caldwell and Janet Lerner, now in its seventh edition. Throughout her career at NEIU, Joyce engaged in professional development projects and participated in IRC Conferences as well as conferences in national and international literacy organizations.
For over 40 years, Pat Braun taught in elementary schools around the great state of Illinois. She was in suburban, urban, and rural schools. But, no matter where she taught, she kept her affiliation with the Illinois Reading Council. She held offices in local councils as well as the state council, served as chair for several committees, and attended the annual conference every year. She retired from public school teaching, but not from the Illinois Reading Conference where she intends to remain active as long as she lives. She recently took a full-time position at Benedictine University at Springfield, teaching future teachers not only what and how to teach, but also the importance of membership in professional organizations.
My name is Christy Ziller and I live in Wilmington, Illinois. My husband, Tom, and I have one daughter, Shelby. We will be welcoming into our family a son-in-law on October 31st, 2015. We have two granddogs, Izabella and Oakley. I am currently a 7th grade Language Arts teacher at Wilmington Middle School. I have been in education for 17 years. I have a B.A. in Elementary Education and a M.S. in Reading from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois. I joined the Illinois Reading Council and Will County in 2002. While a member of the Will County Reading Council, I have served as many different roles. This year, I will serve as President. As a member of IRC, I have presented, attended and volunteered in many capacities. I am excited to be a part of the Executive board of the IRC as Membership Director and begin paying forward all of the fruits I have been given through this wonderful organization.
Roberta Sejnost, who received her Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Loyola University, Chicago, has been a high school teacher and a university professor and is currently a literacy consultant to the Kane County Regional Office of Education. Roberta has been a member of the board of directors for the International Literacy Association’s Secondary Reading Special Interest Group, as well as a member of the Executive Board of the Illinois Reading Council, and has served as an officer in several of the Illinois Reading Council’s special interest groups. A nationally recognized staff developer and presenter, Roberta is a certified trainer in Authentic Assessment, Brain-Based Learning, Portfolio Assessment, Multiple Intelligences, and Reading and Writing Across Content Areas. She has won numerous awards including IRC’s Reading Educator of the Year and IRC's Service Award and the International Reading Association’s Contribution to Literacy Award for the State of Illinois. Her books, published by Corwin Press, include Reading and Writing Across Content Areas, Strategies for Reading in the Content Area, and Tools for Teaching in the Block.