Doctor of Education in Literacy Faculty | Judson University Christian College

Doctor of Education in Literacy Faculty

Steve LayneDr. Layne, Program Chair

Dr. Steven L. Layne is a highly-acclaimed children's book author, international literacy consultant, motivational speaker, and featured author at schools, institutes, and conferences throughout the world. Dr. Layne teaches children's and young adult literature at Judson and also serves as director of the Master of Education in Literacy Program. Dr. Layne’s research interests include the affective domain, adolescent literacy, and oral language development and usage. Full Profile


Joy Towner 2

Dr. Joy Towner, Program Chair

Dr. Joy Towner began her professional teaching career in District 205, in Elmhurst, IL, where she served as a classroom teacher and eventually as the building reading specialist. She holds an M.S. Ed in Reading Education from Northern Illinois University and is a trained Reading Recovery teacher. Dr. Towner enjoys bicycling, reading, and playing games with her family. Her research interests include professional development and literacy in the instruction of preservice teachers as well as the benefits of reading aloud to K-12 students. 


Karen Biggs-TuckerDr. Karen Biggs-Tucker

Dr. Karen Biggs-Tucker has been an elementary school teacher for twenty-five years working extensively in grades two and five. A graduate of Loyola University's doctoral program, Dr. Biggs-Tucker loves to share ideas with others about how to instill a love for both reading and writing in students of all ages. In her spare time she enjoys Chinese food, walks on the beach and reading books by her favorite authors. Dr. Biggs-Tucker's research interests include children's literature and literacy engagement.


Brenda Buckley-Hughes

Dr. Brenda Buckley-Hughes

Dr. Brenda Buckley-Hughes teaches with enthusiasm and energy, and she has a passion for her students' speaking success in a variety of disciplines including literacy education, theatre, and worship arts. Dr. Buckley-Hughes is the author of Introductory Speech Communication: Overcoming Obstacles, Reaching Goals. She has taught at both the undergraduate and graduate level at wide range of colleges and universities. Dr. Buckley-Hughes' research interests include public speaking, oral interpretation of literature, and fluency.


Valerie CawleyDr. Valerie Cawley

Dr. Valerie Cawley has over thirty-five years of experience teaching junior high language arts. She serves on the Advisory Council for the Master of Education in Literacy Program and teaches courses at Judson in grammar and writing instruction. Dr. Cawley was honored as the “Reading Educator of the Year” by the Illinois Reading Council in 2011. Dr. Cawley’s research interests include grammar, linguistics, and writing instruction.


Sue LarsonDr. Sue Larson

Dr. Sue Larson is a K-12 literacy educator who brings her experience as a reading specialist, elementary, middle, and high school teacher, researcher, conference presenter, and teacher educator to her work with Judson students. Her passion is discovering the unique needs of children and adolescents to elevate their ability and love of reading. Dr. Larson teaches courses in literacy and assessment. Dr. Larson's research interests include content-area literacy, motivation, engagement, and identity.


Joe RumenappDr. Joseph Rumenapp

Dr. Joseph Rumenapp is passionate about literacy education in the increasingly globalized world. He has spent the past 10 years working and researching different aspects of urban education and remains involved in classroom-based research. His research interests include language ideologies in educational contexts, social justice in education, and teacher development through action research. Prior to joining the faculty at Judson, he taught graduate level courses and worked with several federally funded research projects at UIC.


Maria SchlupDr. Maria Schlup

Dr. Maria Schlup has been a classroom teacher and reading specialist for over ten years. In addition, she has taught English as a second language and adult literacy at the college level. Dr. Schlup is Reading Recovery trained and holds a master's in reading from Northern Illinois University. Her research interests include early intervention, culturally responsive teaching, and reading motivation.


Gillian Stewart Wells2Dr. Gillian Stewart-Wells

Dr. A. Gillian Stewart-Wells is a former middle/high school English teacher and administrator who sought to implement reading and writing across the curriculum. She has worked at a variety of high schools and universities in six different states. Although she works at the university level, she maintains a frequent presence in K-12 schools in order to keep her practice relevant to today's teachers. Dr. Stewart-Wells' research interests include social equity, teacher efficacy and faculty development in higher education.


Megan Truax2Dr. Megan Truax

Dr. Megan Truax has taught at both the primary and middle school levels throughout her career. She enjoys spending her time attending and presenting at various local, state, and national conferences as well as sharing her love of literacy with the staff and students with whom she works on a daily basis. Dr. Truax's research interests include reading and writing motivation and the impact of teachers' language on students. 


Amy Warfel2Dr. Amy Warfel

 Dr. Amy Warfel has worked with adolescent students as a classroom teacher and administrator.  She brings these experiences, along with her knowledge of best instructional practices for adolescents, to her undergraduate and doctoral students at Judson University.  Dr. Warfel is passionate about teachers providing students with authentic and rigorous learning experiences.  Her research interests include adolescent learning, disciplinary literacy, and motivation. 



Judson University, Shaping Lives that Shape the World