Who we are

Meet some of the people who are currently engaged in imaginative approaches to teaching literacy, and consider joining us.

Michael W. Derby is a writer, teacher and researcher at the Maple Ridge Environmental School Project. He has recently completed an MA at Simon Fraser University and is continuing to research and develop ecological curriculum that imaginatively engages students, inspires ecocritical thinking, and deepens caring relationships with the more-than-human world. He is particularly interested in the vibrant place where language, poetics, and education converge with ecology. Additional interests include: imaginative education, ecopoetics, ecohermeneutics, place-based education, existentialism and Vygotsky. He also likes long walks in the forest.

Carolina López is a MEd student (Imaginative Education Cohort 2013-2015) at the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University. She is interested in the power of literacy as an enhancer for imagination; a tool that allows further learning of curriculum content and deepens the understanding of the world. Recently she started working on a research project implementing the Imaginative Literacy Program in Mexico with Prof. Kieran Egan as a supervisor, with the purpose to analyze its applicability and effectiveness in this country. They are collaborating with the Language Division of the Regional Centre for Teachers’ Education and Educational Research in Sonora, Mexico. She is also interested in issues about second language teaching and learning approaches, special education and arts education for permanent and positive social change.

Gillian Judson is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University, and is also one of the Directors of the Imaginative Education Research Group. She is particularly interested in sustainability and how an ecologically sensitive approach to education can both increase students’ engagement with, and understanding of, the usual content of the curriculum and can show it in a light that can lead to a sophisticated ecological consciousness. Her most recent book is A New Approach to Ecological Education (New York: Lang Publishing, 2010). Gillian is also the author of the lengthy Appendix section of Teaching Literacy: Engaging the imagination of new readers and writers (Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.)

Petra Mikulan is a PhD student in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University. She is interested in cultural and feminist approaches to narrative theory and semiotics. Most recently she coedited and coauthored a textbook entitled Film in the Classroom: Theory and Practice (Ljubljana: Zavod RS za šolstvo, 2012), in which experts and teachers worked together to develop new ways to introduce film to Slovene high school curriculum. Her work in education has focused primarily on the implementation of innovative approaches to the teaching of foreign languages, with particular emphasis on the role of mother tongue in learning and understanding.

Lorraine Graham is an associate professor in the School of Education, University of New England, New South Wales, Australia. She is also associate director (student diversity) of the National Centre of Science, Information and Communication Technology and Mathematics Education in Rural and Regional Australia (SiMERR) and a graduate of Simon Fraser University. Her interests focus on sustainable learning — ways to improve basic academic skills in literacy and numeracy for middle-school students and adults. She is a Fellow of the International Association for Research in Learning Disabilities and co-developer of the QuickSmart Literacy and Numeracy Programs (http://www.une.edu.au/simerr/quicksmart) which are implemented in primary and high schools across Australia.

Kieran Egan is a professor in the Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada. He is a director of the Imaginative Education Research Group. His work has focused on a new theory of education and its practical implications for everyday teaching and learning. His book Teaching Literacy: Engaging the imagination of new readers and writers (Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press) shows how one can make the most routine literacy instruction imaginatively engaging and successful in practice. He is a Fellow of the AERA, a member of the National Academy of Education, a Canada Research Chair, and a winner of the Grawemeyer Award in Education—all of which have kept him off the streets so far.

Karen E. Smith, PhD, is an associate professor of language and literacy education at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba. Prior to this, she had 23 years experience as: a teacher in both English and French immersion settings K through 12, a school division music coordinator, and a principal. She is the author of over 50 journal articles, 48 poems, 2 children’s books, and 2 songs related to the books. She has served as managing editor of English Quarterly and provided editorial services for many journals/publication houses, currently co-editing Classmate. She is a director of the Teaching and Technology (T&T) Group. Her research has focused on digital literacies: how learning to read and write has shifted through the use of technologies. She has held research grants with many foundations and now has turned her full attention to research on imagination.