The Missouri Reader Vol. 43, Issue 1 | Page 8



Why Join the Missouri State Reading Council?*

MSC-IRA is committed to promoting literacy statewide. MSC-IRA members share an interest in following the current trends in literacy and reading instruction. Membership in MSC-IRA provides opportunities to learn about the latest developments in literacy education and to meet and interact with local leaders as well as leaders across the state. Information about the newest teaching materials and professional publications is shared at meetings. MSC-IRA co-sponsor’s both the Write to Learn and Missouri Early Learning Conferences to provide opportunities to gain insights into special issues and concerns in reading such as the new Missouri State Standards, Title I, balanced literacy, parent programs, research-based teaching strategies, and much more.

Benefits of Membership in MSC-IRA*

● Learn about the latest developments in literacy education

● Meet and interact with the best in local literacy leaders as well as those across the state

● Receive information about the newest teaching materials and professional publications

● Gain insights into special issues and concerns in reading such as Title I, balanced literacy, parent programs and research based teaching strategies by attending our annual conference

● Receive the support and camaraderie of others who share a common interest in literacy

Diana Houlle,

Director of Membership for MSC

*Editors note. We are in the process of becoming affiliated with the International Literacy Association, formally the International Raading Association. Labels, logos and names will change as that change takes effect.






to share from our work with expert teachers like Carla Soffos and others, as well as our own work with children. However, getting started was hard, until Linda suggested that we come to the first meeting with all of our favorite professional books tagged with pages that we loved, and the reason that we gravitated to them over and over. Linda, Cathy, and I formed a master list that day of what we wanted the book to say and the best features to include, in order to convey theory-based information to teachers. It was a brilliant idea and it thoroughly eased my mind in knowing that the task at hand was doable. Linda led and assisted the process and trusted Cathy and me to write from our hearts. Linda was a remarkable teacher and leader.


In training under Linda, it was clear that she subscribed to the theories of Clay, Vygotsky, Bruner, Wood, and others in their views on the importance of social interaction, communication,and instruction in the transmission of knowledge. I am forever grateful that it was Linda who assisted my thinking and learning on helping children become literate. I believe that Linda saw each teacher’s capacity as a learner, and encouraged them to take it to a higher level. Linda challenged us to become continued committed architects of our own learning for children’s sakes. In reflecting on the many deep conversations with Linda over the years, I believe this was her ‘Why.’ It gave her great pleasure to see all who sat under her succeed in helping work toward giving every child the right to become literate.


Literacy learning is complex- not only for us as educators, but for children as well. It takes many dedicated people working together to ensure every child’s right to literacy. Linda sought to bring comprehensive changes not only within teacher education, but within school systems as well. It was of the utmost importance to Linda that this information be transferred and duplicated. Linda, over many years, helped to build strong networking groups and a system where teachers can support each other. I think that Linda’s legacy will be that of creating systemic change. I am forever grateful that she transferred her vast knowledge base to not only myself but to teachers nationwide.

“Systemic change lies in our understanding how our children learn and in our ability to problem-solve with colleagues who work with our children, who share our common experiences, and who speak our language of literacy.” (Dorn, French, and Jones, 1998; Apprenticeship in Literacy: Transitions Across Reading and Writing, Stenhouse.)

Thank you, Dr. Linda Jean Dorn, for all of your contributions to education. Thank you for pouring your life into such an important matter. Thank you for teaching me and trusting me! I am so grateful!

The Legacy of Linda Dorn

by Bill Kerns

Linda Dorn’s legacy is one of passion and dedication. Kindness. Compassion. A commitment to excellence in education. A person’s life isn’t to be found so much on a list of accomplishments that can be listed on a CV (and Linda does have quite the list of accomplishments), but in the goodness and kindness of that person. Linda’s life is the story of a truly kind, and good person, self-sacrificing and dedicated to making the lives of others better. She made a difference.

Learning never stops. This is true for students but also for each of us. As we honor Linda’s legacy, I believe that a commitment to continue learning together is a good place to start. “Learning is meaningful, purposeful, self-directed, and generative, for it leads to new discoveries and new knowledge” (Dorn & Soffos, 2001, p. 17).

All one must do is listen to the stories that can be told by her colleagues and friends. Her former students. When I spend time at the School of Education of her beloved University of Arkansas-Little Rock (UALR), I see colleagues who are striving to honor her legacy by continuing the work of delivering excellent teacher education, yet it is a struggle to contain emotions any time there is a reminder of Linda. Be it a reminder of joy, commitment, hard work, or grief at her loss. One thing is obvious, Linda was the heart of the School of Education at UALR.

Yet another point is also clear. Linda’s legacy will live on in the commitment that she inspired. It is a commitment to carefully planned, thoughtful and caring instruction. She was a champion of a well-balanced literacy instruction with carefully structured, varying activities, differentiated according to the needs and interests of the student. “A balanced literacy curriculum consists of five interrelated components: (1) reading books to children, (2) independent reading, (3) shared reading, (4) writing about reading, and (5) guided reading” (Dorn & Jones, 2012, p. 29).

Linda was also a champion of ensuring that teachers have the training, the skill, and the ongoing support structure to successfully implement a balanced literacy curriculum. “A balanced reading program includes a range of literacy activities, carefully selected materials for each activity, and a responsive teacher who knows how to structure literacy interactions that move children to higher levels of understanding” (Dorn & Jones, 2012, p. 34).

Too often, social-constructivist approaches are misunderstood as promoting a free for all, in which the teacher lets children guess and fumble with no guidance or support or even an understanding of purpose. That is far from the truth of the matter.