Parent & Family Engagement Programs
William Teale is Professor of Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Director of the Center for Literacy. He is internationally known for his research on emergent and early literacy and has worked with schools across the United States, as well as with Children’s Television Workshop, public libraries, Head Start, public television stations, Reach Out and Read, and child care organizations in developing curriculum and programs focused on literacy development in preschool and primary grades. At UIC he teaches courses in children’s/young adult literature, literacy leadership, and early literacy.
He recently completed the third Early Reading First Project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, that the Center for Literacy has conducted. The goal of these projects was creating centers of preschool literacy excellence in some of Chicago’s most under-resourced schools. More information on these projects can be found at http://www.uic.edu/educ/erf/.
Teale currently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Reading Association and was elected to the Reading Hall of Fame in 2003. He previously served as editor of Language Arts and co-editor of the Illinois Reading Council Journal. Author of over 100 publications, his recent work has appeared in Educational Researcher, Children’s Literature in Education, Young Children, The Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, and The Reading Teacher. His curriculum vitae for the past five years can be accessed at http://education.uic.edu/faculty/128-william-teale.
Dr. Gail Fox serves as the Associate Director of the Center for Literacy within the UIC College of Education. Fox oversees the center’s services division, FAmily STart (FAST) Learning and Support, building on nearly 20 years as an administrator and teacher in the fields of adult/family learning and applied linguistics. She received her Ph.D. from UCLA and her M.A. from Northeastern Illinois University. Her most recent articles appear in Supporting language access: Teaching talk without words, Exploring the interactional instinct and language acquisition, and Discourse Studies. She looks forward to better harnessing the power of technology in her work, is proud to have earned the affection of her rescue-Chihuahua, Bella, and is thrilled to run along Chicago’s lakefront with her partner in preparation for her next 5K.
Maureen Meehan has been associated with the UIC Center for Literacy since 1992 and currently serves as a Program and Evaluation Specialist. Meehan’s work and research interest over the past 30 years has focused on adult and family literacy. She currently administers the UIC Parent & Family Engagement Programs, a network of family literacy initiatives; the Chicago Center for Early Education; and the Resource Center for Autism & Developmental Delays, all developed in partnership with the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services. She has also managed the Center for Literacy AmeriCorps program since 2003.
Meehan was Co-director of three Early Reading First programs (2006-2013) funded to develop models of excellence in Chicago Charter schools and Archdiocese of Chicago preschool classrooms.
Meehan has served on both state-wide and national literacy committees including the Literacy Volunteers of Illinois Board of Directors, the National Assessment of Adult Literacy Standards Setting Committee, the Illinois State Board of Education Adult Literacy Standards Committee, the Chicago Early Childhood Development & Health Service Advisory Committee, and the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition Steering Committee.
Dr. Meehan was named a Bilingual Education Fellow by the U.S. Department of Education in 1993. She received her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Illinois in 2000 and her contribution to the university’s mission of service was recognized in 2004 when she received the UIC Award of Merit
Ruby Camacho is an Associate Director for the UIC Center for Literacy. She assists the Director with grants management & Center administration. She is also the AmeriCorps Program Director and collaborates with Center-affiliated principal investigators to develop grant proposals that expand current Center activities and implement new literacy programs. Ruby believes that community service is one the best ways to learn about helping others as you learn about yourself. Over the past eight years, she has been instrumental in securing AmeriCorps funding to support family literacy education programs for Head Start parents served by the Center. Her efforts encourage members and staff to develop a mindset of serving their community for a lifetime. Ruby has an M.A from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Samuel Austin joined the Center for Literacy in 2006. Under his leadership, the UIC Parent Engagement Outreach Programs were restructured to more effectively offer family literacy, financial literacy, and education/employment readiness programs to Head Start parents throughout Chicago. Together these programs serve over 2,000 Head Start parents/family members each year.
Austin believes that a comprehensive effort that encourages interaction and dialogue, and provides parents with practical life skills that can be implemented immediately is the best strategy to engage parents. He is also experienced in developing youth engagement programs, including a Teen Literacy Corps and a Summer Teen Nutrition Aide program that engages over 300 teens during the summer months.
Austin is passionate about developing and evaluating model programs that engage parents and teens to create and achieve their goals. His experience mentoring teens from low-income, minority communities has informed his work at the Center for Literacy.
Austin received his Bachelor’s degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio.
Susie Karwowski, an experienced adult literacy and English as a Second Language educator joined the Center for Literacy in 2004. Under her leadership, the instructional teams at two the Family Start Learning Centers have developed basic literacy and GED curricula based upon the Illinois Community College ABE/ASE Content Standards. She also spearheaded the development of a Spanish GED program. The Head Start parent participants in these programs not only work on their individual educational goals but also learn strategies and interactive family literacy activities to support their children’s literacy development.
Karwowski describes her greatest professional accomplishments as mentoring AmeriCorps volunteers as they learn to teach adults and prepare students to pass the GED, all of which has a significant impact on adult students and their families.
Karwowski has a B.A. in English and Philosophy from Indiana University and Certification in Middle School Language Arts and Secondary English in Indiana and Illinois. She has 25+ years’ experience as an adult educator and is chair of the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition and a member of the Southside Literacy Coalition.
Shelley Maxwell’s first successful literacy project began while she was raising her own children in Chicago Public Housing. All three went on to pursue post-secondary education. Her professional literacy career began as the Intergenerational Literacy Coordinator for the Chicago Public Library Literacy Initiative. As a result of her efforts, hundreds of parents and children were served at Chicago Public Library Reading and Study Centers. These centers were a haven for families that cut through the urban blight and hopelessness of public housing. Maxwell went on to manage the Adult Basic Reading Program which matched non-readers with professionals that wanted to volunteer as literacy tutors on neutral turf. She developed successful student/tutor matches for more than 1,000 adult literacy students from 1990 to 1992.
Based upon these extensive grass-root experiences, Maxwell was instrumental in developing a partnership between the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services and the UIC Center for Literacy to provide family literacy services to Head Start families throughout Chicago. Today the Family Start Learning Centers offer GED and ESL classes and facilitate hundreds of family literacy workshops each year. In addition, the program has helped parents move toward self-sufficiency through many work experience programs. Hundreds of parents have received training to prepare for AmeriCorps service and more than 250 parents have graduated from UIC National Service programs.
Laura Knights, Senior Research Specialist, joined the Center for Literacy in 2008. Under her leadership, the UIC Parent Engagement and Resource Programs (GED, English as a Second Language, and the Parent Outreach Programs) serve over 2,000 Head Start parents/family members each year.
Knights’ primary interest is on the impact of integrated life skills on education readiness and job training, performance, and retention. She focuses on a holistic approach that incorporates one’s self concept, past experiences, and future goals as the most effective model in helping adults and teens build their literacy, leadership, and employability skills. She believes her greatest professional accomplishment is helping to develop programs and services that provide empowerment and support to parents and teens that directly impact their professional and personal life outcomes.
Knights received her BS degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Organizational and Human Resources Management from Washington University in St. Louis, where she also studied Social Thought Analysis and received a certificate in Nonprofit Management. She received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from DePaul University. She has also worked as a therapist as part of her MSW studies, providing counseling and case management services to children and their families.
Joshua Krasne has worked as an educator and advocate addressing the immediate and future needs of those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder for 20 years,. Krasne has worked across the autism spectrum providing direct service, professional training, community engagement and advocacy on legislative initiatives. Krasne’s methods of engagement draw from a background in Structured Teaching. He has worked in both home and scholastic settings to structure the overall environment and curriculum to better serve the visual learning style of those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Being a native of Chicago Krasne has been at the forefront of autism advocacy in Illinois for two decades. This history gives him a unique understanding of statewide services.
Krasne took the lead role in establishing the Resource Center for Autism and Developmental Delays satellite site. This center, established in 2013, located in Chicago’s Brownsville community, supports parents and professionals seeking resources, referrals and trainings geared at meeting their children’s needs at home, in the classroom, and in the community. Krasne is also the sibling of two brothers who have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
Krasne earned his Master’s degree in psychology with a concentration in human development from National Louis University.
Sharon Osinaike joined the Center for Literacy in 2002. Her professional interest is in programs that assure every child has access to quality education. To that end, she is committed to initiatives that provide resources necessary for parents to be more engaged in their children’s learning and development. She believes that setting high standards for early education is critical for preparing children to succeed. Osinaike promotes the idea that learning starts in the home with parents engaging their children in literacy moments every day.
Osinaike has assumed the leadership role in expanding the Center for Literacy volunteer program – Resource & Volunteer Promotion Program. She successfully engages both UIC students and members of the local community to volunteer their time and talents in support of Center for Literacy initiatives.
Osinaike has a B.A. in Psychology from Northeastern Illinois University She is a former Head Start parent who was actively volunteering at three Head Start programs in her neighborhood for 15 years, while actively engaged in her children’s academic achievement. She continues extensive volunteer work with multiple organizations in her community.