GSE’s Fenice Boyd wins Albert J. Kingston award from the nation’s leading literacy research organization

By Charles Anzalone
Release Date: February 10, 2017   (available in UBNow)

Fenice Boyd

“We all need to read literature that is written by and about people who are from different ethnic, linguistic and cultural groups.”

Fenice Boyd, associate professor
Department of Learning and Instruction
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The nation’s most prominent literacy research organization has honored University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education Associate Professor Fenice Boyd for her service to the association.

The Literacy Research Association awarded Boyd the Albert J. Kingston award, recognizing her contributions to the association, as well as her outstanding literacy contributions to the academic community. Boyd’s research focuses on diversity as it relates to students’ academic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, as well as approaches to instruction and curriculum materials.

Chosen by her peers in a nationwide consideration, Boyd is the most recent recipient due to her continued contribution to LRA, including serving as chair of the LRA’s early career achievement award committee.

“As an educator, reading literature that is culturally diverse, and then studying this literature with my students is my responsibility,” says Boyd, associate professor of Learning and Instruction in GSE. “I believe this is beneficial to the growth and development of learning.”

Boyd, who has been at UB since 2001, first became interested in literacy learning as an undergraduate at the North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. Following North Carolina’s motto of “Every teacher is a teacher of reading,” Boyd pursued numerous reading education courses despite her interest in music education.

Boyd said her experiences as both a student and educator led her to pursue multi-cultural literature as a focus of her work.

“One issue is the necessity to include more literature from diverse groups in classrooms, especially at a time when the Common Core State Standards present the view that only traditional literature from ‘the classics’ is worthy of being included,” Boyd says.
“I think this move sets an extremely unfortunate precedent. We all need to read literature that is written by and about people who are from different ethnic, linguistic and cultural groups.”

Boyd has been presenting her diversity-centered works and serving the Literacy Research Association for the past 27 years. Such a lengthy commitment stems from her desire to be a member of an organization dedicated to ethically and socially responsible research.

“Being a part of this organization connects me to scholars from across the country,” says Boyd. “It gives me an opportunity to learn about the research interest of other scholars, as well as make some contribution to the organization and the field.”

Boyd cites the narrow selection of readings that the Common Core State Standards include to explain the need for her research. Boyd’s role at UB centers on working with pre-service and in-service teachers, in particularly to emphasize diversity and multi-cultural education.

The Kingston award is the latest of Boyd’s numerous accolades and grants. In 2016, Boyd won the Virginia Hamilton Essay Honor Award for her contribution to literature concerning multicultural literary experiences. Prior to that, Boyd received the Visiting Distinguished Researcher Award from the University of South Australia and the STAR Award for Advising from UB’s Graduate School of Education.

Boyd says she plans to continue her work as an advocate for diversity in education. Currently, Boyd is collaborating with UB colleague and Assistant Professor of Economics Joanne Song McLaughlin to research the financial literacy knowledge of middle school children.

A tireless advocate for incorporating different perspectives in education, Boyd acknowledges some oppose her work. Nevertheless, Boyd believes this opposition is imperative to progress.

“Resistance is inevitable,” says Boyd. “But I believe that learning should be uncomfortable in order to grow.”

February 10, 2017

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