In the English language arts classroom, students must not only understand and appreciate the value of reading, writing, and speaking, but they must also learn, employ, and hone these skills for use as contributing members of their current and future societies. Our task, then, is to make learning so “useful” that it sticks-- to build a strong foundation of literacy that may continue to expand as students’ life experiences provide more depth and relevance to their work. For reading, specifically, we must both encourage and support interest, stamina, and understanding of the texts we explore, which is no small feat considering students often want to know, “What’s in it for me?” To answer their driving question, we have to sell the “usefulness” of their learning. When learning is “useful,” students are motivated. And, when students are motivated, learning sticks.

Author Biography

Dr. Sarah Tanner-Anderson serves as Assistant Professor and Program Director of Educational Leadership. A former principal, assistant principal, middle- and high-school English teacher, department and grade-level chair, high-school coach, and club sponsor, Dr. Tanner-Anderson has spent the past fifteen years serving and supporting public education in the Commonwealth. A twice Longwood alumna, Dr. Tanner-Anderson obtained her Bachelor of Arts in English ('02) and Master of Arts in English, Education, and Writing ('07) from Longwood University. She earned her Post Master's Administrative Certification ('11) and Doctor of Education in Educational Administration and Policy Studies ('14) from The George Washington University. Her research interests include women's educational leadership, social justice, and literacy. Dr. Tanner-Anderson has previously published in the Virginia English Journal and the VASCD Journal and is a proud Past-President of VATE.