Cultivating New Voices among Scholars of Color
Two years of support, mentoring, and networking opportunities for early career scholars of color.
New CNV Director Announcement
Tonya B. Perry
University of Alabama at Birmingham
I am a 7th-generation Spaulding, a descendant of Benjamin and Edith Spaulding of North Carolina. I am of both African and Native American heritage, dating back to 1773. I honor my ancestors and family, for it is their shoulders, along with those of many others, on which I stand. My family has always believed in supporting each generation and paying forward our talent and resources to the next generation. Working with the remarkable CNV family is one way I pay it forward with gratitude to my professional home of NCTE and to my ancestors.
It is an honor to serve as the fifth director of Cultivating New Voices among Scholars of Color (CNV) to innovate, support, and implement programs, initiatives, and structures imperative for the next generation of literacy scholars of color. Without the foundational work of the Research Trustees and forward-thinking senior scholars such as Arnetha Ball, María E. Fránquiz, Valerie Kinloch, Carol Lee, Peter Smagorinsky, and Juan Guerra, CNV would not be the excellent model for mentoring scholars of color that it is today. I am here to serve current and former CNV Scholars as they become a part of the NCTE organization and the CNV family as alumni, mentors, and mentees. When I envision CNV, I picture it as an intricate infrastructure, like a quilt, one that must be fortified in three areas: writing productivity and mentoring support; publishing opportunities; and leadership development.
The goal in the next six years is to increase the number of fellows and maintain the CNV mentor/mentee relationships through professional networking.
- The first phase (first two years) will be the “fortifying the infrastructure” phase. This includes the following:
- providing ongoing writing support and publishing opportunities
- creating advisory boards of former “CNVers” and mentors
- The second phase, the “development of scholars as leaders,” will include phase one and the following:
- matching fellows to their interests in the larger organization
- finding and creating spaces/resources for “CNVers” to write and lead with support
- The third phase will include the “extension phase”:
- developing presentations for organizations to learn about/duplicate the successes of CNV
- celebrating 25 years of success
- developing/implementing a national summer CNV conference
In addition to the work of Cultivating New Voices, as a full professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), I consider myself a senior scholar who is engaged in the community as a servant leader, teacher, and researcher. I currently facilitate two large projects, GEAR UP Alabama and Red Mountain Writing Project, in addition to administering a Secondary English Education program. I stand with the communities that I serve, careful to add to their work and uplift their voices. This is a mind, heart, and spirit journey.
I began my involvement with NCTE early in my teaching career as a member of the Rainbow Strand Committee. I was mentored by Sandra E. Gibbs, along with Alfredo Celedón Luján, MaryCarmen Cruz, Bobbi Houtchens, Keith Gilyard, Dale Allender, Arnetha Ball, Donda West, María E. Fránquiz, Debbie Reese, and Rosalie Kiah at a time when it was necessary for people of color to
“ensure that the Council maintains a culture that embraces diversity, leverages diverse talents, ensures equitable opportunities for all, and is representative of all individuals who contribute to the field of literacy education.”
I helped develop this statement:
“It is the policy of the National Council of Teachers of English that it demonstrate sensitivity to the concerns of people of color and they be represented on all Council-sponsored programs . . . . People of color refers to historically underrepresented groups—African Americans, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, Asian Americans, and Latinos. As [NCTE] continue[s] to increase awareness and participation of individuals and groups that represent cultural diversity, [it] remain[s] committed to the development and ongoing support of policies, programs, groups, and special initiatives that address diversity” (NCTE website).
To ensure that this statement remains an action and not just words on paper, I have served on the NCTE Editorial Board, as NCTEAR Chairperson, on the ReadWriteThink Board, as a Research Trustee, as Mentoring Taskforce Chairperson, and on editorial boards, search committees, and numerous other spaces to represent voices of color. I have been awarded NCTE’s Richard W. Halle Award for Outstanding Middle Level Educator. I am also a past Alabama Teacher of the Year and National Teacher of the Year finalist, noted for my work to promote understanding of the developmental needs and characteristics of young adolescents, particularly Black girls and historically marginalized students and underrepresented spaces, focusing in the area of literacy/English language arts. I have been recognized by my institution for outstanding teaching, earning the UAB President’s Award for Teaching Excellence and the UAB Graduate School Mentoring Award, and for co-creation of a Graduate On-line Mentoring Module for mentor training. My scholarship has been published in an NCTE book and in journals such as Voices from the Middle, English Education, English Journal, and Theory Into Practice.
I stand on the shoulders of many who have paved a way for me. And even as I write this, I must acknowledge that lives have been lost in this equity fight, which has brought attention to unfair and inequitable practices for African Americans. May we together create a more just society. NCTE CNV Scholars, lead the way.