Department: The Teachers College

Children’s author and literacy experts to speak in Emporia

October 12, 2015

A Kansas author noted for her collaborations in writing about Amish culture and two experts on teaching children to read and will be the featured speakers at a conference in Emporia in November.

Author Carol Duerksen, Dr. Paula Bennet and Dr. Michal Taylor will speak at the 18th annual Kansas Reading Recovery® and Early Literacy Conference on Nov. 9 in Emporia State University’s Memorial Union.

Duerksen has co-written books with her husband, Maynard Knepp, described as “a guy who grew up Amish and didn’t like to read or write,” with a disabled cat named Slickfester Dude, and with a corgi dog named Walter Bean. Duerksen is a freelance writer who lives on a farm between Goessel and Hillsboro; the couple have co-written and self-published Amish novels.

Bennet teaches at the Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy at the University of Northern Iowa. Currently she works with teachers and teacher-coaches to help better meet the literacy needs of all children.

Taylor is a Reading Recovery teacher-leader for two regional reading recovery sites. Her classroom focus has been on implementing readers and writers workshops, guided reading/close reading, vocabulary and accountable talk with preK-8 teachers.

All three speakers will give two presentations each. Duerksen will speak at lunch on “Writing with an Amish man, Slickfester Dude, and Walter Bean.” Her talk will be from 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., in Webb Hall of the Memorial Union.

The conference will offer educators the opportunity to network and attend sessions led by reading instruction experts including:

  • Intentional Instructional Conversations
  • Acceleration Sound Teaching in Early Lessons
  • Moving from Phonological to Orthographical Awareness: Learning How to Hear, Learning How to Look
  • Teaching for Strategic Activity
  • Amish Books and Lifestyles, Animal Books and Lifestyles
  • Summer Learning Loss and What YOU Can Do About It
  • How We Got Results: Reading Recovery Practices for the Classroom

The conference will be from 8:30 a.m. until 3:45 p.m. Nov. 9. Registrations for the conference are being taken at

For more information about registration for the conference, directions to the conference, or about the Reading Recovery program at ESU, visit or contact the Jones Institute at 620-341-5372, toll free 877-378-5433, or e-mail Dawn Moews at