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Institute for Racial Equity in Literacy: Two *New* Sessions for Summer 2023. The

The DC Public Library Foundation is partnering with the Institute for Racial Equity in Literacy (IREL) for another beautiful summer of powerful learning for educators from across the country at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.

Co-directors Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul and Tricia Ebarvia are excited to bring educators together around the shared promise of a just and equitable literacy education for all kids. This summer, IREL is offering two *new* 3-day sessions designed for today's teachers and with today's challenges in mind. The sessions are open to all PK-12 literacy educators, administrators, librarians/media specialists, coaches, and consultants. Teams encouraged! Participants are welcome to attend one or both sessions.

What Makes IREL Special?

Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul and Tricia Ebarvia in Front of Signage at the MLK Library

IREL is a personal experience, guided by expert facilitators, including:

  • Amanda Hartman, Deputy Director for Primary Literacy at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University
  • Tiana Silvas, 5th Grade Teacher, New York City Public Schools
  • Keisha Smith-Carrington, Supervisor of Humanities at Princeton Public Schools
  • Michelle Yang-Kaczmarek, K-8 Literacy Coordinator, Dobbs Ferry School District

It's our people that help make IREL so special. Not only will participants learn directly from the founders/co-directors of IREL (see next page), participants are also grouped by grade-level cohort groups led by expert facilitators. IREL participants are guests at a special Authors Panel and book signing event. Finally, IREL is also proud to partner with the D.C. Library Public Library Foundation who hosts IREL at the beautiful Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in downtown D.C.

Learn More About This Year's Sessions

Session 1 | Writing Toward Freedom (3-12) - July 7 - 9

Throughout history, social justice and antiracist leaders have used writing as a powerful tool in the pursuit of equality and freedom. Such writers have used their words to raise awareness, point out injustices, and compel fellow citizens to take action. Classrooms are where students can feel empowered — or disempowered — to see and use writing as a vehicle for social change, and teachers play a crucial role in supporting students in using their voices in service of causes they believe in. In this interactive workshop, participants will explore the following queries:

  • What does a culturally responsive writing workshop look, sound, and feel like? 
  • How can we encourage kids to write about issues that matter to them?
  • How do we meet the challenges and opportunities of technology and artificial intelligence in the writing classroom? How can we support all kids in bringing their authentic voices to life on the page?
  • How can we invite students to write in multiple and diverse modalities and genres to better reach their audience?
  • How do we help students develop a writing identity that is reflective of and responsive to their personal and social identities? 
  • And how can we model all of the above as teachers of writing and teachers who write?

Join us as we (re)imagine writing instruction as identity-affirming pedagogy where students have the freedom to draw from their cultural and linguistic knowledge and lived experiences — their interests, realities, joys — as they write toward an equitable and just world.


Each day will begin at 8:30AM and end around 4PM. Each day includes a boxed lunch. A more detailed schedule will be available soon.

Recommended Grade Levels

Grades 3 to 12

Session 2 | Reading Toward Freedom (K-12) - July 11-13

Developing students’ critical thinking skills is urgent, necessary work, and teachers play a crucial role in helping students read the world in ways that empower them to discern bias, misinformation, and disinformation. In this hands-on workshop, participants will engage in practical classroom strategies as we explore the following queries: 

  • How can we deepen our own and students’ understanding of how their identities, experiences, and biases impact the way we read and respond to texts?
  • How do we help students develop critical thinking skills in this climate of disinformation and fear?
  • How do we hold space for nuanced and complex conversations in class while also being responsive to students’ personal and social identities?
  • How can we ultimately work with colleagues and alongside students in creating a just society?

From our youngest learners to young adults, we know that it is never too early or too late to build and strengthen our students’ critical thinking skills — and in doing so, we can realize the full potential and promise of creating classrooms rooted in justice and freedom.


Each day will begin at 8:30AM and end around 4PM. Each day includes a boxed lunch. A more detailed schedule will be available soon.

Recommended Grade Levels

Grades K to 12

Award-Winning Author Panel - July 10

Wednesday, July 10 at 7 p.m. Reading and Writing Toward Freedom. Attend IREL and join us for this award-winning author panel with Ibi Zoboi, Ellen Oh and Glory Edim

Enjoy an award-winning author panel on Wednesday, July 10, featuring:

  • Ibi Zboi | National Book Award Finalist and Coretta Scott King Award-Winning author of Nigeria Jones
  • Ellen Oh | Author and Editor of You Are Here (Six starred reviews) and Founder of We Need Diverse Books
  • Glory Edim | Author, Podcaster and Founder of Well Read Black Girl

Reserve Your FREE Seat

Audiences: Adults
Topic: Partnerships
Type: Stories