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Joanne Larson receives award for excellence in graduate teaching

Professor Receives William H. Riker University Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching

Joanne Larson, Michael W. Scandling Professor of Education at the Warner School, is this year’s recipient of the William H. Riker University Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching. Larson will receive the award at the University’s Doctoral Degree Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 19, in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Eastman School of Music.
The University-wide award is given annually to recognize a faculty member who has excelled in graduate instruction, particularly in the University’s doctoral programs. Larson is the first Warner School faculty member to receive this award.  
“Joanne has demonstrated in exemplary ways the spirit and demands of the Riker Award by excelling in the supervision and mentoring of graduate students,” says Jeffrey Choppin, chair of teaching and curriculum at the Warner School. “The course evaluations, combined with the letters from doctoral graduates and her colleagues, speak volumes about her unwavering commitment to the development of her students, which is accomplished through compassion and a deep reservoir of skill, talent, and energy that are unique at the Warner School and that are used abundantly in the service of her students. The Riker Award recognizes Joanne's extraordinary contributions as a graduate teacher and advisor.” 
A noted scholar of curriculum development, Larson focuses her research on language and literacy, how young people develop literacy practices, and how schools and teachers can adapt and implement change to improve the development of those practices. Her current research centers on the University’s historic partnership with East High School. She has been part of the University’s EPO partnership with East, where she serves on the leadership team, co-leads the Family and Community Engagement (FACE) committee, and continues to lead and oversee research at East.
As a teacher and mentor, Larson is central to the Warner School’s graduate program, having guided 28 students to the completion of their doctoral degrees. Her contributions to the success of the school and its students have earned her recognition from her graduates, her colleagues, and members of the Rochester-area teaching community.
Nahoko Kawakyu O’Connor ‘18W (PhD) was first introduced to Larson as a doctoral student enrolled in her Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods course.

“While the course was a transformative experience, Dr. Larson’s authenticity and care for her students opened my eyes to what education could and should be,” says Kawakyu O’Connor. “She carefully listened to each of us, considered our backgrounds, interests, perspectives, and values, and provided additional individualized resources and literature to push our thinking further. Dr. Larson respected different perspectives and values, and challenged us to consider how the dominant narrative and paradigm informed our thinking.”
Larson is also the associate chair of the Center for Urban Education Success, which supports the success of K-12 urban schools in Rochester and beyond and is grounded in the University’s partnership with East. She also serves as the director of the Genesee Valley Writing Project, which seeks to improve the quality of student writing and learning in schools across Monroe County and surrounding counties.
She is the author or editor of five books, and her most recent, Community Literacies as Shared Resources for Transformation (Routledge, 2018), is co-edited with Rochester community leader George Moses and tells the story of a collaboration between community members and University faculty and students who together transformed an urban corner store into a cornerstone of the community.
In addition to her faculty duties at Warner, Larson serves on the editorial board of several peer-review journals, including Research in the Teaching of English, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, and Reading Research Quarterly

A member of the Warner School faculty since 1995, Larson holds at PhD in curriculum and bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to entering academia, she was a preschool and elementary school teacher for more than a decade.

Learn more about the Warner School's doctoral programs in teaching