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Excellence in Teaching Conference wordmark 2023


Thank you for your interest in the Excellence in Teaching Conference: Reading for a Better World  hosted by the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) on Notre Dame's campus March 10-12, 2023. Registration is currently full. Please join our waitlist if you are interested and we will be in touch with individuals on the waitlist if and when space becomes available.



Registration for the Excellence in Teaching Conference 2023: Reading for a Better World is currently full. Please join our waitlist if you are interested. 

We will be in touch with individuals on the waitlist if and when space becomes available.

Join our Waitlist 

If you are a club sponsoring attendees, please complete this form as well as have your attendees register.

Club Information Form

Reading for a Better World

From the uptick in calls for book bans and censorship to the recent debate over the science of reading, teachers know how challenging the teaching of texts can be in today’s classrooms.  Here at Notre Dame, we want to imagine what teaching can look like when literature is wielded as a force for good.  So, save the date for this year’s Excellence in Teaching Conference, March 10-12, 2023, on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, where we will take up the idea of Reading a Better World. We’ll hear from renowned speakers and workshop classroom strategies that will help us and our students “read the world” and “write the future.” Stay tuned for more announcements and even some surprises along the way!


The Excellence in Teaching Conference is open to all participants, and most especially this year, ELA and English teachers, literacy leaders and coaches, and school and community librarians.

A: approaches to the teaching of reading and writing (K-12)
C: curriculum issues
E: engagement with reading (including, textual analysis/interpretation, writing)

EL: Elementary
MS: Middle School
HS: High School
LIB: Librarians
LL: Literacy Leaders, Administrators, and Stakeholder
A: All


Donalyn Miller
Donalyn Miller

5:30 - 7:00 pm Optional Reception with hor d'oeuvres and drinks included.
Smith Ballroom of the Morris Inn

Keynote: Navigating Slumps in Reading Motivation | Donalyn Miller
While some readers increased their reading volume and interest during the global pandemic and isolation, others reported they didn't have the emotional or intellectual energy to read or have lost their joy in it. Throughout our lives, readers encounter slumps in reading motivation and interest. How can readers find our way back to reading when we don't feel like reading much? In this session, Donalyn Miller will share suggestions from hundreds of readers of all ages for navigating reading slumps during the pandemic and beyond. 

Donalyn Miller is an author, educator, and co-founder of The Nerdy Book Club. We will discuss her latest books, The Commonsense Guide to Your Classroom Library and GameChanger!

McKenna Hall
McKenna Hall

8:00 - 9:00 am Registration check in and breakfast
Smith Ballroom of the Morris Inn

9:00 - 9:30 am Opening Remarks
Smith Ballroom of the Morris Inn
Topic: Reading for a Better World | Mike Macaluso (Professor, University of Notre Dame)

9:45 - 10:45 am Session A Breakouts
McKenna Hall

  • Room 1How to Help Children Build Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding | Nicole McNeil, Ph.D. (Professor, University of Notre Dame)
  • Room 2: Building Beta Team for Better Readers and Writers | Rachel Edelman, M.Ed. and Carissa Maddox, M.Ed. (Professors, University of Notre Dame ACE Academies)
  • Room 3Small Moments, Big Impacts: Reading Through a Social Justice Lens | Darby Evans, M.Ed. and Conor Luck, M.Ed. (Teachers, The Francis Xavier Ward School, Chicago)
  • Room 4: Warning! Graphic Content: The Inclusion of Graphic Novel Studies in ELA Curriculum | Rebecca Tapanes (Teacher, Louisville)
  • Room 5: The Road to Reading Acceleration is Paved with Data | Anthony Cook, Ed.D. (Director, Strategic Relationships at Curriculum Associates), Brian Colomban (Assistant Superintendent for Data and Instruction at the Diocese of Rockville, NY), and Jim Tauzel (Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Rochester, NY)

11:00 am - 12:00 pm Session B 
McKenna Hall

  • Room 1: Avoiding Over(s)kill: Grappling with the Interplay of Skills and Content in Designing Text-Based Units | Ted Caron, Ph.D. and Kati Macaluso, Ph.D. (Professors, University of Notre Dame)
  • Room 2: Effective Vocabulary Strategies for Multilingual Leaders (and All Readers!) | Katy Lichon, Ph.D. and Kenna Arana, M.Ed. (Professors, University of Notre Dame)
  • Room 3: The New Readers: How Inclusive Books Make a Better School | Kathy M. Burnette (Owner, Brain Lair Books, South Bend)
  • Room 4: Poetry Pedagogies | Laura Betz, Ph.D. (Professor, University of Notre Dame)
  • Room 5: Journaling as a Way to Teacher Well-Being | Leigh Anne Eck (Teacher, Vincennes, IN)

12:00 - 1:30 pm Lunch and Keynote 
Smith Ballroom of the Morris Inn

Keynote: The Joy of Reading | Donalyn Miller
Avid adult readers find reading personally meaningful and enjoyable. While motivation and engagement remain important factors influencing young people's reading development, prioritizing joyful reading eludes many school communities. Why does reading enjoyment matter? What components foster reading joy? Award-winning TX teachers and author Donalyn Miller will share benefits of joyful reading and some conditions and resources that foster reading engagement. 

Downes Ballroom
Downes Ballroom

1:45 - 2:45 pm Session C 
McKenna Hall

  • Room 1: Fluency: The Critical Bridge from Decoding Words to Comprehension of Texts | Anne Elsener, Ph.D. (Director of Literacy Programs for the Center for Vibrant Schools, Marian University)
  • Room 2: Representation Matters: Diverse Images and Stories in Catholic Schools | Betsy Okello, Ph.D. (Professor, University of Notre Dame) and Zack Okello (Artist and Art Teacher, South Bend)
  • Room 3: Methods for Literary Analysis and Interpretation | Michael Macaluso, Ph.D. (Professor, University of Notre Dame)
  • Room 4: Reading for the Social Setting: Literary Analysis With and Beyond the Page | Julian Bonds (Teacher, Atlanta)
  • Room 5: Partnering with Authors to Bring Literacy Alive for K-12 Students | Katherine Higgs-Coulthard, Ed.D. (Author and Professor, Saint Mary's University)
  • Ballroom: Shakespeare Without Chairs | Peter Holland (Professor, University of Notre Dame)

3:00 - 4:00 pm Session D 
McKenna Hall

  • Room 1: Science of Reading Implementation of IDOE's Priorities and Resources for Early Literacy | Karrianne Polk-Meek, Ed.S. (Director of the Literacy Center at the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE)), Shaiya Badgley (Literacy Specialist, IDOE), and Josiah Colombo-Espinoza (Dyslexia Senior Specialist, IDOE)
  • Room 2: Using the Iceberg Theory to Develop Classroom Community and More Thoughtful Literary Analysis | Jennifer Swisher-Carroll (Teacher, Edwardsburg, MI)
  • Room 3: Narrative Writing with Purpose: Picture Books That Inspire Empowerment and Action | Mike Brown (Author, South Bend)
  • Room 4: Teaching Literacy to All Students Regardless of Learning Disability or Difference | Sissy Peters, M.Ed. (Curriculum Manager for Faculty Development at HCA Healthcare, Nashville)
  • Room 5: Preparing Students for Higher Education Reading and Writing | Nicole MacLaughlin, Ph.D. and Damian Zurro, Ph.D. (Professors, University of Notre Dame Writing Center)
  • Ballroom: Gospel Values in Literature: Past, Present and Future | Panel moderated by Kate Schuenke-Lucien, Ph.D. (Professor, University of Notre Dame's Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child)

4:00 - 4:30 pm Author Signings / Meet and Greet / Book Sale
McKenna Hall

Mass Options: 

Carol Jago
Carol Jago

6:30 pm Dinner and Keynote
Downes Ballroom overlooking Notre Dame Stadium

Keynote: Books Can Bring Us Together | Carol Jago
According to the most recent Common Sense Media survey, screen time for students ages 8 through 18 is up by 17%. By many accounts, young people’s mental health is deteriorating. Could literature provide an alternative to Tik Tok and a balm for their pain? As James Baldwin explained, “You think your pain and heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.” In this session, Carol Jago will offer texts and tasks that engage students in an exploration of literature that can help them thrive. She will model effective instruction that can help students from K through college read for a better world.

Carol Jago has taught English in middle and high school in public schools for 32 years and is associate director of the California Reading and Literature Project at UCLA. She served as president of the National Council of Teachers of English and as chair of the College Board’s English Academic Advisory committee.


Neal Shusterman
2022 Alexandria Award winner Neal Shusterman 

Mass Options:

8:00 - 9:00 am Breakfast
Smith Ballroom of the Morris Inn

9:00 - 10:00 am Keynote
Smith Ballroom of the Morris Inn
Topic: Writing Our Futures | Neal Shusterman

Neal Shusterman is the New York Times best-selling author of over thirty novels for children, teens, and adults and the 2022 Alexandria Award winner for his novel, "Scythe."

*All attendees will receive a free copy of the 2022 Alexandria Award winning book, "Scythe."

10:15 - 11:00 am Concluding Remarks and Optional Final Planning Session
Smith Ballroom of the Morris Inn


The cost of the conference, which includes meals, is $200 through February 20, 2023. Any registration after this date will cost $250. Financial support is available through your schools Title funds or various scholarships and financial aid opportunities. The deadline for financial aid is February 6, 2023.


We have two hotels that have reserved rooms for the Excellence in Teaching Conference for 2023. 

  • Fairfield Inn & Suites South Bend at Notre Dame
    • Use this booking link to receive a rate of $133/night for conference attendees.
    • Last day to book with this rate is Friday, February 10, 2023. 
  • Morris Inn - located on Notre Dame's campus
    • Use this booking link to receive a rate of $119/night for conference attendees
    • Last day to book with this rate is Friday, February 10, 2023.