Jacqueline Witter-Easley

  • Professor of Education; Co-Director, Teaching Commons; Co-Director of the ARISE Program
    Email Address:
    Office location:
    Lentz Hall 322

    Professor Jacqueline Easley received her Ed.D. in Reading Education from Northern Illinois University, her M.A. in Reading, with her certificate as a K-12 Reading Specialist, from Concordia University-Chicago, and her B.A. in Elementary Education with minors in Math and Art from Concordia College. She joined the Carthage faculty in 2006.

    Prof. Easley was an elementary classroom teacher and also served as a reading specialist, the 5th-6th grade art teacher for one year, and the coach for middle-school girls’ softball, volleyball, and basketball teams. She developed integrated literacy lessons and author studies for her grade level, as well as parent education workshops.

    Prof. Easley was an assistant children’s librarian at her local public library, where she created a variety of innovative literacy programs for children of all ages.  During her tenure as a librarian, she earned a grant for her development of a teachers’ reading program, developed an early literacy curriculum, and created and implemented early childhood parent workshops.

    Prof. Easley has taught at the college level for more than 20 years. As a college professor, she has taught courses at the undergraduate level in methods of teaching reading for both the elementary and secondary levels, methods of teaching mathematics for the elementary level, methods of teaching science for the early-elementary level, methods of teaching creative arts for the elementary and middle school levels, multicultural children’s literature, emergent literacy methods, and introduction to education. At the graduate level, Prof. Easley has taught courses in the diagnosis of reading difficulties, seminar in literacy research, supervised the practicum in the remediation of reading difficulties, and has directed masters’ theses.

    As a member of the International Literacy Association (formerly the International Reading Association) since 1993, Prof. Easley has given presentations at the local, state, national, and international levels.  Her areas of expertise include: integrating writing across the curriculum, developing author studies in primary grades, implementing student book clubs in elementary and middle schools, connecting visual literacy with higher levels of comprehension processes, integrating literacy across disciplines in middle and secondary schools, and creating culturally responsive literacy experiences in K-12 classrooms.

    From 2011 to 2015, she was the president of the Racine-Kenosha Reading Council.  She is also a member of the Wisconsin State Reading Association, the Illinois Reading Council, the Literacy Research Association, and the Association of Teacher Educators. 

    In 2012, Prof. Easley published Happy Birthday, Dear Author! (UpStart Books, Madison, Wisconsin). This resource book provides primary-grade teachers and school librarians with literacy activities based on 27 current children’s authors and illustrators. 

    In 2019, Prof. Easley published Literacy Moments: Creating Daily Teachable Moments with Beginning Readers (Rowman & Littlefield, Maryland). This book provides early elementary teachers with research-based methods for integrating all facets of literacy into their daily routines, with an emphasis on creating culturally inclusive learning environments.

    From 2014 - 2021, Prof. Easley was the editor of the Wisconsin State Reading Association’s WSRA Journal. This is a peer-reviewed journal that provides K-12 teachers and administrators with current research, teaching methods, and literature reviews centered on effective literacy instruction.

    From 2014 to 2016, Prof. Easley was the Director of the First Year Read Program at Carthage. In this role, she facilitated the selection of the common read text for all first year students, and developed on-campus discussion activities, guest speakers, and programs related to the text.

    Prof. Easley has been the Director of Undergraduate and Graduate Literacy Programs at Carthage since 2009. In this role, she has supervised the annual Summer Reading Clinic for local elementary, middle, and secondary students. She has also developed two literacy conferences at Carthage’s campus for K-12 teachers and reading specialists.  She oversees the Graduate Programs in Reading Teacher license #1316 and the Reading Specialist license #17/.

    Prof. Easley was the chair of the Education Department from 2010 - 2017. During this time she facilitated the development of a new Art Education major, a new English Language Learner license in the graduate program, and the development of the Urban Teacher Preparation Program and Urban Education minor. 

    From 2017 - 2021, Prof. Easley was the dean of the Professional Studies Division at Carthage. In this role, she facilitated the development of several new programs including the Sports Management track of the Master’s in Business Design & Innovation, the Master’s in Athletic Training, and the Social Justice minor in the Social Work Department. 

    Since 2021, Prof. Easley has served as the co-director of the Teaching Commons for faculty development, where she has developed a variety of new opportunities for faculty to explore innovations in teaching and learning experiences.

    Prof. Easley’s work at Carthage has included the mentorship of undergraduate research through the Celebration of Scholars event, and of graduate research through directing their thesis projects. She has authored book chapters and articles on the topics of visual literacy, teacher education methods, and literature-based elementary instructional activities. 

    Hear from Prof. Easley: Why education?

    “I am a teacher. This vocation is as much a part of my identity as is being a parent, a daughter, a wife, a woman. It is part of my DNA, and it seeps into every aspect of my personal and professional life.

    “Within my first year as an elementary teacher, I witnessed every day the power of literacy education. The ability to read opens doors to opportunity for all citizens, and I wanted to learn how to be a better reading teacher for my students. I went on to earn my master’s degree in reading instruction, becoming a licensed reading specialist. I came to understand the interactive theory of reading (Rumelhart, 1985), in which young readers learn best by acquiring the word recognition skills to decode words when that instruction is imbedded in the purposeful reading of authentic texts. This theory informed my instruction of early-elementary students (and continues to inform my teaching of undergraduates in teacher education).

    “My young students became avid readers, and I began to ask myself, ‘How can I reach more beginning readers to create skilled and motivated members of society’s literacy club (Smith, 1988)?’ This spurred me on to earn my doctorate in reading, allowing me the opportunity to teach preservice teachers so that I could inspire future educators to teach literacy with authentic materials. Through them, I would impact more children.

    “So, when I came to Carthage in 2006, already with years of both K-12 and college-level teaching experience, I transitioned smoothly into the life of the Education Department and into my role as an assistant professor. Through my experiences in the classroom, I have come to know that good teaching means that we must first remember to always embrace learning opportunities ourselves. It also means that we must leverage new knowledge to create meaningful learning opportunities for our students using authentic materials, modeling quality teaching methods, and engaging students in meaningful discussions.

    “I have created lessons filled with both updated research and hands-on experiences. I gladly taught courses that were new content areas for me, eager to delve into the new possibilities of creating meaningful, real-world experiences for our future K-12 teachers. As I became more experienced, I explored new challenges through service by becoming the chair of the Education Department. In this role, my ‘teacher’ persona thrived: I worked to create a collaborative community, mentored new colleagues, and lead my department in developing new programs and curricular mapping. My goal was to learn the qualities of effective leadership and then model them for my colleagues, themselves future department chairs.

    “Through my teaching and service, my scholarship has evolved in the areas of exploring effective teaching methods for both K-12 teachers and college professors. Again, my vocation dictates my work in this domain. I am constantly seeking new research and creating ways to model interactive reading methods to my preservice teachers. Furthermore, I demonstrate effective literacy instruction to my peers by providing a variety of professional development sessions at Carthage, and to peers across the state and nation through my presentations at various conferences.

    “Currently, my research is centered on literacy as social justice. In other words, I have merged my knowledge of effective literacy instruction and its power to provide access for all citizens’ increased quality of life into a line of scholarship focused on culturally responsive instruction and inclusive, equitable education. In this way, I continue to seek answers to my question: How can I reach more beginning readers to create skilled and motivated members of society’s literacy club? After all, I believe it is in the seeking that we continue to find new, relevant ways to answer this question, for our future teachers, their students, and ourselves.”


    • Rumelhart, D. E. (1985). Toward an interactive model of reading. In H. Singer and R. B. Ruddell (Eds.), Theoretical models and processes of reading (3rd Ed.) (pp. 722 - 750). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
    • Smith, F. (1988). Joining the literacy club: Further essays into education. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.”
    Media Mentions

    Morning Show - 07/22/19

    Professor Easley appears on WGTD’s morning show. (91.1 WGTD, July 22, 2019)

    Literacy Moments While Out and About with Toddlers and Preschoolers

    Professor Easley discusses some activities to do with your children to help their literacy skills. (Kenosha News, June 20, 2019)

    Literacy Moments at Home with Toddlers and Preschoolers
    Professor Easley writes about activities to do with toddlers and preschoolers to prepare them to enter kindergarten. (Kenosha News, June 13, 2019)

    • Ed.D. — Northern Illinois
    • M.A. — Concordia University
    • B.A. — Concordia College
    • ART 4210 Art Curriculum and Methods (K-5)
    • EDU 1010 Education and Society
    • EDU 2130 Multicultural Children’s Literature
    • EDU 2150 Creative Arts: Music and Art in the Elementary/Middle School
    • EDU 3220 Reading and Language Arts I (Grades 1-9)
    • EDU 3230 Reading and Language Arts II
    • EDU 3520 Developmental and Content Reading
    • EDU 3540 Language Arts in Middle and Secondary Schools
    • EDU 4282/5282 Culturally Responsive Instruction 
    • EDU 5350 Seminar in Reading Research
    • EDU 5420 Diagnosis and Remediation Techniques for Reading Disabilities (K-12)
    • 2018 — Making a Difference Award: Given by Carthage College’s Equity and Inclusion Committee for her work as a qualified IDI Administrator and for teaching a workshop in the Equity and Inclusion Certificate Program.
    • 2016 — Grant Recipient, Siebert Foundation: Collaborated with Prof. Michele Hancock on a grant for Carthage’s new Urban Teacher Preparation Program. Awarded a three-year $150,000.00 grant to develop and grow this program.
    • 2012 — Celebrate Literacy Award: Given by the Wisconsin State Reading Association to an individual who has contributed to the literacy development of children and/or adults in the state above and beyond the requirements of his/her current job duties.
    • Hancock, M. & Witter-Easley, J. (2022). Black History 365: Kindergarten Book 1: I am Unique and Special. Black History 365 Education: Arlington, TX.
    • Hancock, M. & Witter-Easley, J. (2022). Black History 365: Kindergarten Book 2: Look at Us! We Can Learn New Things. Black History 365 Education: Arlington, TX.
    • Hancock, M. & Witter-Easley, J. (2022). Black History 365: Kindergarten Book 3: I Can Be Anything From A to Z! Black History 365 Education: Arlington, TX.
    • Hancock, M. & Witter-Easley, J. (2022). Black History 365: Kindergarten Book 4: My Family and Me. Black History 365 Education: Arlington, TX.
    • Hancock, M. & Witter-Easley, J. (2022). Black History 365: Kindergarten Teacher Resource Guide. Black History 365 Education: Arlington, TX.
    • Hancock, M. & Witter-Easley, J. (2021). Black History 365: Modern Day Africa: 6th Grade Edition. Black History 365 Education: Arlington, TX. 
    • Witter-Easley, J. (2022). Black History 365: Teacher Resource Guide for Grades 3 – 8. Black History 365 Education: Arlington, TX.