COE doctoral student one of two U.S. educators chosen for grant

Cecelia Joyce Price, doctoral candidate and teaching fellow in the UNT College of Education's Department of Teacher Education and Administration, is one of only two educators in the United States to receive the 2016 Geneva Smitherman Cultural Diversity Grant from the Conference on English Education of the National Council of Teachers of English. The award goes to teachers and teacher educators from historically underrepresented groups who contribute to the full realization of the organization’s professional goals.

The grant will provide support for Price when she goes to the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Convention in Atlanta this November to present her research and participate in conference activities.

“I am thrilled to learn that I have won this grant, but mostly I am humbled, knowing especially that only two people were selected to receive it,” Price said. “I think that NCTE is a most appropriate organization for me. I was a high school English teacher before becoming an administrator and then a doctoral student in the Curriculum and Instruction program here at UNT. Now, my research focuses on multimodalities in the teaching of English, something that has always interested me not only as a lifelong educator, but also as a visual artist.”

Price’s conference presentation, “Secondary Teachers’ Experiences with Multimodal Literacy Design,” is based on research for her in-progress dissertation.  For that study, she has used the research approach known as “portraiture” to investigate the varying ways in which English teachers employ multiple modes of literacy in their classrooms.

“Portraiture” is an arts-based research approach developed by Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot in the 1980s.

“The approach excites me quite a bit,” Price said. “I suspect that this is because I am an artist. I love to paint in my free time, and capturing a person's essence is what is important to me when I paint. I don't go for exact replicas, but the viewers, the subjects, and I should be able to say, ‘That is so-and-so without a doubt!’ I believe that this is exactly what Dr. Lawrence-Lightfoot says about research. The inquiry is legitimized when participants view the report and can say, ‘I recognized myself. That’s me.’ It is legitimized when readers read the report and can say, ‘This really makes sense. I can identify with this.’ It is legitimized when the researcher (artist) can look at his or her own report and say, ‘There is great value in this work.’ So I connected with this approach significantly.”

The Cultural Diversity Grant is named for Geneva Smitherman, professor emerita of English and former director of the African American Language and Literacy Program at Michigan State University. She is well known for her important work at the intersection of race, culture and language.

“I am fortunate that my research connects with my own life, both professionally and personally," Price said. "I embrace this opportunity to share my work with other professionals at the Atlanta conference this November.”