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Sally Nathenson Mejia

Assoc. Professor, Responsive Literacy Education

My Story

Having grown up in Minneapolis, MN, I was anxious to experience life in other countries, especially warm ones! My teacher licensing program gave me the opportunity to do a field experience in a school in Puebla, Mexico and I spent 12 weeks working in a 3rd grade classroom. Not only did I love spending the winter in a place that had flowers blooming in February, I fell in love with the people and the culture. I applied for a full time teaching position at the school and began my teaching career there in the fall of 1979. Over the next four years I learned to teach, became literate in Spanish, learned how a well-managed bilingual program can effectively produce truly biliterate students, and met and married my husband.

From Puebla, we moved to Columbus, OH where I completed my MA and Ph.D. in literacy and bilingual/multicultural education at the Ohio State University. While in graduate school, I supervised student teachers, taught courses in literacy, worked as a research assistant in K-3rd grades and took a group of student teachers on a 12-week field experience to my old school in Puebla.

When I applied for the position at CU Denver everyone told us we would love living in Denver. They were right, it has been a wonderful place for us to raise our children in a bilingual and bicultural environment. Since coming here in 1987, I have worked with teacher candidates in the licensing program and taught MA students and worked with them in their classrooms, all over the greater metro area. I have done research on the literacy development of children becoming bilingual, the use of ethnic children's literature to help teacher candidates understand and get to know their students, and the use of literacy coaching in professional development.

My Students at University of Colorado Denver

It has been a privilege to work with the wonderful teachers in the greater Denver Metro area over the last 20 years. As a site professor in a partner school and through teaching the elementary literacy course in the licensing program, I've worked with many teacher candidates. I've also worked with K-12 teachers in the MA Reading/Writing program, including ESL, social studies, math, music, art and special education teachers who want to learn more about teaching literacy in their content and specialty areas. In addition, I've worked with many doctoral students who come from various areas of teaching: elementary teachers of English Language Learners, special education teachers, adult education teachers and secondary teachers.

The teachers I've worked with have taken many different paths over the years. Some have stayed in classrooms, others have become reading specialists, working with small groups of students. Quite a few graduates of our MA program have become literacy leaders in their buildings, becoming literacy coaches or building resource teachers. Several have gone on to get their principal licenses and are principals in schools. Some have continued graduate work to get their doctorates in education. Many of our former MA students have taught courses for us over the years which helps to keep our program directly connected to what is going on in schools.

Classes I Teach at the University of Colorado Denver

  • Workshop in Language & Literacy: LCRT 5020
  • Linking Assessment & Instruction, LCRT 5055
  • Foundations of Language, Literacy & Culture: LCRT 5010
  • Seminar & Practicum in Language & Literacy: LCRT 6910/6911
  • Seminar & Practicum in Literacy Professional Development: LCRT 6915
  • Effective Literacy Instruction for English Language Learners: LCRT 5770
  • Elementary Literacy Instruction and Assessment: UCTE 4/5000
  • Social Studies through Children's Literature & Writing: UCTE 4/5001

My Research Interests

  • Literacy development of children becoming bilingual
  • Literacy instruction for bilingual education
  • Ethnic children's literature for teacher professional development
  • Literacy coaching embedded in teacher professional development
  • Literacy Essentials for English Language Learners: Successful Transitions by Maria Uribe & Sally Nathenson-Mejia, Teachers College Press, August 2008

My Hobbies

When I am not working, I love to play with my grandsons, walk around the lakes in NW Denver and, of course, read!

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