About St. Louis Suburban Council of IRA

a professional organization of educators and individuals actively engaged
in the development of literacy throughout the Greater St. Louis Area.

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Message from the President (Feb. 2017)




Happy Valentine’s Day! This time of year is so cozy, the cold and gray weather makes me long to curl up with a great book!  Yet another reason to share with our students our love of reading and books.  This is my favorite time of the school year; the students know the ropes, and we’re clicking along. MAP testing still seems far away so the pressure is not upon us yet.  Hopefully parent teacher conferences are behind you and it’s smooth sailing until spring break – and even more time for reading then!  Whether you are in a new position or a new seasoned veteran, it’s revitalizing to attend high quality professional development.  My wish for you is that you find a comfortable balance of learning, teaching and taking great care of yourself.


We continue to work hard to provide you some helpful and inspiring programs and resources to help you be successful during your schoolyear.  Our next evening is on Thursday, February 23rd, featuring Angie Muse, Ed.D, from Hazelwood School District.  She will be sharing information and strategies for helping students who have experienced trauma and some strategies to help them feel comfortable and successful.  Sounds like a lifesaver, right?  Check out the rest of the newsletter to see the amazing programs planned, and please let us know any other suggestions for PD needs you or your school may have. We are here to be of service to you.


One of our goals is to increase membership. Please try to encourage your colleagues to join us. When teachers join our professional organization they gain the latest literacy information, as well as updates from the Missouri Reading Council, not to mention the networking opportunities, and lots of chances to meet other like-minded people in the area to network with and learn alongside. You’ll grow as a professional and have a great time in the process!




Leslie McKinstray,



WEB Wonders By MaryEileen Rufkarh


Booktrack provides a new way for students to study and enjoy reading and writing. Users to this site can synchronize audio with text to create an immersive reading experience. Students can combine their own writing with a soundtrack chosen from over 20,000 professional-quality audio files.  Once the masterpiece is completed, students can share this multi-dimensional experience with their classmates.

Booktrack also functions like an e-reader, with hundreds of stories, for all age groups (including adults), in numerous genres, already downloaded to the site.  Readers can add a pre-selected audio background to the book or custom design their own soundtrack.  Musical genres range from Blues to Folk to Orchestral to Reggae and much more in-between.

You can find Booktrack at: https://booktrackclassroom.com/content/intro



“READ: Read, Eat, and Discover” Update

by Jody Rozbicki

Chairperson of MSC’s “Read & Feed” Committee

Each month, Glenda Nugent, MSC Coordinator, and I have a phone conference with our national committee composed of the National Title I Association, the International Literacy Association, and the states participating in “Read & Feed.”  In January 2017, we found out that ILA and Title I had changed the name of our project.  The project is now known as “READ: Read, Eat and Discover.”  The name change occurred because another organization in the United States has the same name.

This year two corporate partners have joined the “READ: Read, Eat and Discover” project.  They are Ruby Tuesday and Jet Blue Airlines.  They will participate through monetary donations. This is a new occurrence and more information will be available later.

The National Title I Association Conference is in Long Beach, California on February 22-25, 2017.  Stephen Sye, International Literacy Association, and Julie Cowell, DESE, will be giving a presentation about “READ:  Read, Eat and Discover.”  Stephen’s and Julie’s presentation will include St. Louis Suburban Council’s “Read & Feed” project, which was a partnership between Harris-Stowe University and the Ferguson-Florissant School District in June 2016.

If you are interested in sponsoring this project please submit an application to MSC’s “READ: Read, Eat and Discover” committee.  We have over 3000 books to distribute and we would love to get the books in the hands of our Missouri students.  Special note:  one member organizing your “READ” project must be an International Literacy Association member and the school you select must be a Title One feed school. Please contact Jody Rozbicki, (jrozbicki@ladueschools.net) for an application form and to determine if your partner school is a Title One feed school.  If MSC’s “READ” committee approves your application, Jody will contact you for the next steps in receiving the books for distribution.



Please Join The St. Louis Council of the International Literacy Association



Jody Rozbicki, Membership Director

St. Louis Suburban Council of International Reading Association is a professional learning community.  Today, we are asking you to join and encourage your professional friends to join too.  Joining as a Literacy Team is a savings.   

Congratulations to our membership for recognizing the benefits of  our organization.

About the St. Louis Suburban Council

  • Members represent more than twenty-five public school districts, many archdiocesan and other parochial and private schools, seven universities, and representatives of textbook and trade book publishers/ distributors.
  • Members include administrators, classroom teachers, librarians, reading specialists, literacy coaches, special education teachers, ESOL teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, and university faculty.
  • Educators and administrators who work with students from kindergarten through university levels are represented.
  • Averaging nearly 200 plus members each year, we are one of the largest local councils of the International Reading Association of Missouri.
  • Our council has won awards at state and national levels for the quality of our programs and the service we provide to our members and community.
  • We provide material to support family literacy, both locally and internationally.
  • We support international efforts to improve literacy across cultures by donating funds.
  • We are participating and sponsoring the International Literacy Association, Legacy Project, “READ: Read, Feed and Discover”, along with Missouri State Council.
  • We offer a mini-grant of $250-$500 for a member to implement a literacy-focused project in the classroom.
  • We provide networking opportunities for educators throughout the Greater St. Louis Area.

Top 5 Benefits of IRA Membership

  • Practical teaching tools you can use in the classroom
  • Access to top-rated journals, innovative research, and best practices
  • Being part of a community of reading professionals
  • Discounts on IRA publications and other professional development resources
  • Reduced conference registration rates
  • Information on IRA membership (http://www.reading.org)

Information about Membership

Remember that if you join as part of a team of two or more from your school building or district or university, you will be considered a Literacy Team and pay only $16.00 per person.  To be considered a Literacy Team, you need to mail the membership forms to Jody in the same envelope.  Single membership is $20.00.  If you are a full-time student or retired, you may join for $10.00.  In addition, your local council membership gives you automatic membership in the Missouri State Council of International Reading Association.  You will receive their benefits of website newsletters and state journal, The Missouri Reader.  The advantage of professional networking will allow you to meet and share ideas with educators from all over the St. Louis suburban area, while developing lasting and valued friendships.

Membership forms for July 2016 – August 2017 are posted in the right-hand column of website home page. Please print and mail in today.  If you need further information contact Jody Rozbicki at (jrozbicki@ladueschools.net)





Multimodal Literacy: A New and Expanded Definition: February 2017


Multimodal Literacy-A “New” and Expanded Definition
Thomas Cornell, Ed.D.


Webster University

As literacy educators, we are expanding our definition of what it means to be literate in this digital age.  One term that has expanded the definition of being literate is multimodal literacy and is “relatively” new.  Some have defined multimodal literacy as the dynamic convergence of two or more communication modes within the same text and where all modes are attended to as part of meaning-making (The New London Group, 1996).  Picture books, comics, and graphic novels also fall into this category as they juxtapose pictures with text. Interpersonal communication, visual literacy, digital literacy, and writing literacy are also terms that we hear. Rather than expound on multimodal literacy in depth however, I thought you might find the following resources helpful as you plan your instruction.  I wish you the best in your search for developing exciting and rewarding lessons that integrate various modalities so that you and your students can produce motivating and thought-provoking experiences for learning.

Visual Resources

Foto.com is an extensive, easy to use CC image repository which provides “ready to paste” attribution information for use with the photograph.

Pixabay Image (pixaby.com) provides free public domain images.  Check the usage terms of CC license before downloading.

Wikipedia Commons (commons.wikipedia.org) is a free media repository.  Check the type of CC license and its usage before downloading.

Wikipedia: Public Domain Images

(en.wikipedia.org) lists many sources for images which lists several public domain images on the web.  Users are responsible for checking the copyright status of images before using them.

Audio Resources

Audio Library YouTube: (youtube.com/audiolibrary/music) offers a growing library of music for use in video making.   This is a very simple download process and music can be searched by genre, mood, instrument and duration.

ccMixer (ccMixer.org) is a community music remixing site featuring remixes and samples licensed under CC licenses.  You are free to download and sample from music on this site and share the results.  Some songs might have certain restrictions, depending on their specific license. Each submission is clearly marked with the license that applies to it.

Five Great Sources For Free-To-Use Audio: Clips & Sound Effects (makeuseof.com):Provides five different options for finding sound effects.

Comics and Graphic Novels Resources


Comics and graphic novel formats can be used to tell new stories, to retell old stories, and to inform and instruct as in information reports, book reports, text analysis, character studies, diaries, and even instructional manuals.

In conclusion, our continuing advances in technology require us to use multimodal methods of communication within our society and around the world. At Webster University, we now offer an online MA in Multimodal Literacy for a Global Impact.  If you are interested, please contact me for further information.

*(CC stands for Creative Commons) A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work. A CC license is used when an author wants to give people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they have created.


Web Wonders: Nov. 2016


Web Wonders

Trying Something Different

 By Mary Eileen Rufkah

No argument, a teacher’s day is busy from sun-up to sundown (and more than likely outside of those hours as well), and it’s easy to rely on the tried and true, the tools that work well for you and your students.  But every once in a while, it’s a good mental exercise to branch out, to take that risk, to look at something you may not have noticed before.  Included below are some relatively new education-oriented web sites that teachers may find useful.

Figment is an online community and self-publishing platform for young writers.  Figment’s target audience is teen readers and writers.  Educators can tap into exclusive author programming, writing prompts, and private group functionality, where teachers can create a virtual writers’ workshop for the classroom.

Figment currently has over 300,000 registered users and over 440,000 ‘books’, or pieces of writing.  Figment also offers writing contests to help budding young writers hone their skills. Many of the contests focus on themes and issues presented in popular and upcoming young adult books.  Figment can be found at:  http://figment.com/.

Tackk is a free, simple way to create and collaborate in the classroom. Teachers can use Tackk for assignments, presentations, blogs, discussions and more. Tackk is easy to embed, email and share on various social media networks.  Geared for grades six on up, Tackk allows you to create, publish and send quickly and hassle-free.

Tackk users can incorporate photos, videos, buttons, maps, media, and other digital resources into their work.  Teachers can post their successful lesson plans on Tackk and browse units from other educators as well.

Ideas for utilizing Tackk in the classroom include:  lesson planning, persuasive writing projects, parent communication, peer critiques, Skype classroom collaboration, student ePortfolios and book reports.

Check Tackk out at:  https://tackk.com/.

Pear Deck is an interactive presentation tool used to actively engage students in individual and social learning. Teachers create presentations using their Google Drive account. Students log into the presentation with unique access codes and interact with questions while teachers monitor individual student progress and whole-class progress.

Teachers can use Pear Deck to create interactive presentations that allow students to work independently to respond to various questions throughout the ‘deck’.  During each session, teachers can see the presentation as well as the students participating. Student responses appear on the teacher screen in real-time.  Teachers can have their students demonstrate their understanding through drawing, multiple choice answers, essay or whatever meets a student’s individual needs.

Pear Deck supports inquiry based learning, rather than relying on teacher recited facts.  All learners are engaged, not just those raising their hands.  Since the teacher is constantly receiving real-time results from student responses, it is easy to evaluate a lesson’s success on the spot, move on, or re-teach the concept. Look for Pear Deck at:  https://www.peardeck.com/.



Legislative Update: Nov. 2016


Legislative Update

Mary Eileen Rufkahr

Now that the dust is beginning to settle after this tumultuous political season, it is time for the politicians, both incumbents and newly elected, to begin to put into motion the reformations to educational policy they promised during the past few months.

Missouri’s newly elected governor will be the point person for school accountability, since the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, returns the power back to the states, in designing their own evaluation systems.

While many states have seen an increase in revenue since the rebound from the Great Recession, others, like Missouri, have had to make cuts to public education, as tax revenue dropped.

In Missouri, at least 15 districts have gone to four-day school weeks to save money.   Educators throughout the state have lobbied their representatives to overhaul the state’s funding formula.  A bill that would have adjusted the funding formula failed during the 2016 legislative session.

The Missouri House and Senate convened for a veto session on September 14. The legislature overrode several bills passed during the regular session and vetoed by the Governor. A recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling specifies that only bills returned by the Governor during the last week of session or after a session ends may be taken up during the veto session, while bills returned earlier must be taken up during the remainder of the regular session.

In a report issued by state auditor Nicole Galloway, school districts in Missouri need to do more to protect the data they collect from students.  Without the proper safeguards, school districts are as vulnerable as any other business against hackers.  Parents may not even be aware of the information at risk, such as authorized bank debits for a lunch plan, or health records provided to a school nurse.  The audit was part of an initiative out of Galloway’s office aimed at preventing unauthorized access to students’ records.

In 2014, the Missouri Legislature passed a bill requiring the state’s education department to put provisions in contracts that would keep student data from being sold or used to target advertisements.  Galloway’s report recommends schools establish privacy training for their employees and stricter policies for handling student information.  The audit also suggests schools appoint someone to serve as a security administrator for a district and create a plan outlining a response to any potential data breaches.

Outgoing Governor Jay Nixon has announced he is releasing $12.1 million he’d been holding after the fiscal year got off to a slow start in July.  The money includes $6 million for public schools, as well as $3 million for school transportation, which had been cut by $16.5 million.  Nixon stated September’s revenue growth, which topped 5.8 percent, gave him the flexibility to release some of the money.



READ & FEED Johnson Wabash Elementary Ferguson-Florissant Schools



Johnson Wabash Elementary

Ferguson-Florissant Schools 


Jody Rozbicki, Chair of St. Louis Suburban Council “Read & Feed” 

What a dynamic beginning for “Read & Feed”!  Our first “Read & Feed” program grant was approved for Dr. Betty Porter Walls and the Harris-Stowe State University, College of Education, to implement in the Ferguson-Florissant School District.  St. Louis Suburban Council of IRA, and Missouri State Council has spent the 2015-2016 year working with Dr. Porter Walls and Harris-Stowe State University to plan, organize, train, and implement the first “Read & Feed” event at Johnson Wabash Elementary in Ferguson-Florissant School District on June 15, 2016.  We shout words of appreciation for Dr. Betty Porter Walls, Harris-Stowe State University, and our council members willing to donate their expertise, then get-up-and-go to design a dynamic “Read & Feed” program.  Vendors at the July 2015, International Literacy Association Conference in St. Louis, donated their display books, besides Conway Elementary and Ladue Middle School from Ladue School District donated too loved books from their libraries.


We thank Glenda Nugent who supervised the organization of our warehouse space at Color Art, inventoried our collection of books, and supervised the selection of books to donate to Johnson Wabash Elementary.  We thank Dr. Sam Bommarito, Pat O’Connell, Sandi Coleman, Sandy Kettlekamp, Deb Dickerson, Tammy Rhomberg, and Dr. Betty Porter Walls for donating time for sorting books and organizing Color Art.  We thank Color Art, Dr. Sam Bommarito and Pat O’Connell for volunteering to transport donated books from Ladue Schools to Color Art and Color Art to Johnson Wabash Elementary.


 Read and feed Students


COMMENT by Adrienne Bland

Director of Elementary Education

Ferguson-Florissant School District


On behalf of Ferguson-Florissant School District, we are extremely appreciative of the partnership with Harris Stowe State University, the International Reading Association and the International Literacy Association. Because of your work today, students have four more opportunities to enjoy reading. The boys and girls were so excited about selecting books to take home. Students’ comments and excitement confirmed they were grateful for the experience. “Do I really get to take these [books] home? “Can you finish reading the book to me? I want as many books about Africa because I’m going there?” Yesterday was the beginning of personal home libraries for many of our students. Because of your commitment to Ferguson-Florissant, more of our students have books in their hands. There are 1,000 more books in the Ferguson-Florissant community!  Your team was awesome.


 Read and Feed Volunteers


We thank the St. Louis Suburban Council members, Missouri State Council members, and the faculty and scholars from Harris-Stowe State University who participated in the “Read & Feed” event at Johnson Wabash on June 15, 2016.



President’s Message by Leslie McKinstray: August 2016


St. Louis Suburban Council

of the

International Reading Accociation

Past Recipient of the Honor Council and Show Me Awards

Message from the President

August 2016

Welcome to a new school year! It is my hope that everyone had the opportunity this summer to enjoy the sun with family and friends, as well as to capture some time to REFLECT, RELAX, and READ!!!! But as we turn our attention to fall, the smell of floor wax in the school hallways, the cute kids in the back-to-school ads, the colorful displays in all the stores, these things help me get in the spirit for my next educational adventure. Whether you are beginning a new position, a new set of kiddos or a new outlook on life, it’s revitalizing to consider your fresh new start. My wish for you is that you find a comfortable balance of learning, teaching and taking great care of yourself. We’re here for you!

We have been working hard to provide you some excellent programs and resources to help you throughout the new school year. Our first program is on Sept. 8 featuring Debbie Jameson, the new Director of ELA for DESE. She will be unpacking the new MO standards.  Just what we need, right? Check out the rest of the newsletter to see the amazing programs planned, and please let us know any other suggestions for PD needs you or your school may have. We are here to be of service to you.

One of our goals is to increase membership. Please encourage your colleagues to join us. When teachers join St. Louis Suburban they gain the latest literacy information, as well as timely articles from Missouri Reading Council, not to mention numerous networking opportunities.  When you attend our meetings you will have a chance to share literacy strategies and resources with other like-minded people in the area. You’ll grow as a professional and have a great time in the process!  We are excited to serve you and I look forward to an awesome year!
Leslie McKinstray,


Officers and Board 2016-17


St. Louis Suburan Officers 2016-17

President: Leslie McKinstray, Hazelwood School District

President-Elect: Steve Baybo, Hazelwood School District

Past President: Tamara Jo Rhomberg, Education Consultant

Treasurer: Jill Lauman,  SEMO Field Ed. Supervisor

Recording &

Corresponding Secretary: Mollie Bolton,  Special School District

Historian & Publicity: Steve Baybo, Hazelwood School District

Membership:  Jody Rozbicki, Ladue School District,

Communications/ Website:  Dan Rocchio, Maryville University Emeritus

Sam Bommarito, Retired

Mollie Bolton, Special School District

Social Media: Angie Huesgen, Pattonville School


Newsletter: Tamara Jo Rhomberg. Education



St. Louis Suburban Board 2016-17

Sam Bommarito, Retired

Sandi Coleman, Retired

Sandy Kettlekamp, Affton School District

Betty Porter Walls, Harris Stowe State University