Master of Education in Literacy Faculty
Steven Layne, Program Director
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
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.
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.
Professor 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. Professor Cawley was honored as the “Reading Educator of the Year” by the Illinois Reading Council in 2011. Professor Cawley’s research interests include grammar, linguistics, and writing instruction.
Professor Jamie Diamond has taught social studies and language arts at the middle school level in Barrington District 220 for more than twenty years. Professor Diamond enjoys presenting at various professional conferences where she shares best practices for integrating technology into the curriculum. She has co-authored a book on the topic entitled Literacy Lessons for a Digital World. She is also a proud Judson MLIT alum.
Professor Meg Gaier is a middle school teacher in Barrington District 220 where she has taught a variety of content areas and grade levels. In addition to her time in the classroom, Professor Gaier teaches professional development classes on integrating technology and literacy and is proud to have co-authored a book on the topic entitled Literacy Lessons for a Digital World. She also enjoys presenting at local, state, national, and international conferences.
Professor Nancy Hatcher is a proud Judson alum! She has enjoyed teaching early primary grades up through 7th grade as well as being a staff developer, conference presenter, and literacy leader. She is presently working as a reading specialist and teacher coach in Community Unit School district 300. She was honored as a 'Distinguished Educator' by the District's Foundation of Excellence for her work with students and teachers in 2008.
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.
Professor Melissa Leisner is a seventh-grade language arts teacher at Prairie Knolls Middle School in District #301. Prior to joining the faculty, she worked as a graduate assistant with Dr. Wells and Professor Cawley. Melissa is also an alumni of the MLIT program! Professor Leisner has presented at various state and national conferences on literacy topics and was honored to receive the National Milken Educator Award in November, 2013.
Professor Barb Malinger is an adjunct professor for the Master of Education in Literacy Program with over 25 years of teaching experience with elementary students. Currently she serves as a Literacy Coach in Community Unit District 300 and passionately helps teachers support English language learners in the mainstream classroom. In addition to teaching and coaching she enjoys conducting workshops on early literacy.
A. 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 in her 17th year teaching 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. Wells’ research interests include social equity, teacher efficacy, and faculty development in higher education. Full Profile
Dr. Maria Walther has taught first grade since 1986. Along with teaching young learners, she shares her knowledge with fellow professionals around the country as a literacy consultant and in the course she teaches in the MLIT program at Judson. Dr. Walther has co-authored three professional books including Month-by-Month Trait-Based Writing Instruction and Literature is Back.