Melinda R. Willis, Associate Professor of Education,
Department of Curriculum & Instruction
Ed.D. Morehead State University, Morehead, KY
Rank Assignment: August, 1996
Areas of Specialization
Literacy: Elementary and Middle Grades;
Literature and Materials for Young Learners
In my current position at Morehead State University, my primary responsibilities involve
advising undergraduate and graduate students, participating in research opportunities and
other scholarly activities, providing service to the university community and to the districts
and schools in the service region, and teaching sections of the following courses: Reading for
Early Elementary Teachers (EDEE 331); Literature and Materials for Young Readers (EDEE
327); Kentucky Reading Project (EDEL 599). I am presently involved in establishing Middle
School Learning Strategies Academies in three school districts which have been historically
low performing on state assessments.
My research interests include professional development “best practices”, teacher efficacy,
comparative studies in elementary classroom practices, the role of motivation in reading
comprehension, and the role of humor in children’s reading comprehension.
I have been the Director of the MSU Kentucky Reading Project since 1999. In that capacity I
am involved in planning summer institutes for selected primary and intermediate teachers in
the region, conduct classroom follow-up visits in these teachers’ classrooms, and planning
follow-up sessions throughout the academic year.
Publication of scholarly materials
Moriarty, A. F., & Willis, M. (2001). “Create a Better Learning Environment (C.A.B.L.E.):
Effective Collaboration for Pre-service General Education and Special Education Teachers.”
Kentucky English Bulletin, 50(2), 22-26.
Willis, M., Lowe, L., Tackett, C., Lewis, M., Banks, R., & Thompson, M. (2001). “Where
we’re from – Where We’re Going.” Kentucky Reading Journal, Fall.Winter Special Issue, 23-26.
Long, S., Smith, L., Powell, R., McIntyre, E., Shake, M., Boulware, B., Willis, M., & Davis,
S. (2000). “The Kentucky Reading Project: A Kentucky collaboration.” Kentucky Reading
Journal, Spring 2000, p. 30-35.
Freeland, K., & Willis, M. (1999). “Integrated College Methods Courses.” ERIC
Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education, #SPO38365. Fall, 1999.
Willis, M. (1999). “Humor, Children, and Reading: A Review of the Literature.” Delta
Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 63 (3): 15-24.
Willis, M., & Hitch, B. (2003). "Poetry Across the Curriculum." Pike Co. Schools Annual
Title I Conference, December 1-2, 2003, Pikeville, KY.
Willis, M., & Hitch, B. (2003). "Weaving Poetry into Your World." Kentucky Council of
Teachers of English/Language Arts 2003 Conference, February 7-8, 2003, Lexington, KY.
Willis, M., Lester, J., May, T., & Privett, N. (2002). “Kentucky Reading Project in Pike
County.” Presentation at the 2002 Governor’s Literacy Summit, Louisville, KY, June 21, 2002.
Willis, M. & Neeper, C. (2002). “To AR and Beyond: Supporting and Extending
Accelerated Reading in Your Classroom.” Presentation at the Kentucky Council of Teachers of
English/Language Arts, 66th Annual Conference, Fort Mitchell, KY, February 8, 2002.
Willis, M. (2001). “Poetry as Discovery: Writing to Discover Self, Others, and the
World.” Presentation and interactive workshop at Regional Title I Conference, Pikeville, KY,
December 4, 2001.
Detweiler, G., & Willis, M. (2001). “Movin’ and Groovin’ in the Content Areas:
Integrating Music and Movement in Content Area Learning.” Two presentation and interactive
workshops at the 13th Great Lakes Regional Conference of the International Reading Association,
Cincinnati, OH, October 25 and 26, 2001.
Pollock, M.A., Maynard, B., Lester, J., & Willis, M. (2001). “Let’s make a new box: A
fresh look at collaborative professional development initiatives for teachers.” Presentation at the
Appalachian P-16+ Regional Summit, Morehead, KY, February 20, 2001.
Detweiler, G., Neeper, C., & Willis, M. (2001). “Rockin’ Across Kentucky: Integrating
Music in Content Area Reading and Writing.” Presentation and interactive workshop at the
Kentucky Council of Teachers of English/Language Arts, 65th Annual Conference, Louisville, KY,
February 9, 2001.
Moriarty, A., & Willis, M. (2001). “Create a Better Learning Environment (C.A.B.L.E.):
Effective Collaboration for Pre-service Teachers.” Presentation at the Learning Disabilities
Association of America 38th International Conference, New York, NY, February 7, 2001.
Detweiler, G., & Willis, M. (2000). “Music, Content Area Reading and Writing: What
We’ve Learned So Far.” Kentucky Reading Project Summer Institute, Morehead State University,
June 27, 2000.
Willis, M., Moore, K., Wallingford, E., & Robinson, G. (2000). “Movin’ Right Along: A
Thematic Unit on Movement for Early Primary Students.” Presented at the International Reading
Association, Southeast Regional Conference, Savannah, GA, March 9, 2000. (This represents a
collaborative effort between faculty and undergraduate students.)
Moriarty, A., & Willis, M. (2000). “Collaboration at Morehead State University’s
Department of Elementary, Reading, and Special Education: Past, Present, and Future.”
Presented at the Learning Disabilities Association of America 37th Annual International
Conference, Reno, NV, February 18, 2000.
Evans, R., Blair, S., Willis, M., Freeland, K., Barnett, J., Smith, D., (March 1999). “Project
International: A Collaborative Project Utilizing Information Communication Technology
Between Schools of Northeast England and Kentucky.” Paper presented at the Kentucky
Education Technology Conference, March 6, 1999, Louisville, KY.
Hammons, K., Freeland, K., Schack, E., & Willis, M. (March 1999). “Instructional
Formats for Curriculum Integration.” Paper presented at the Southern Early Childhood
Association, March 26, 1999, Nashville, TN.
Blair, S., Moriarty, A., Willis, M., Evans, R., Oldfield, M. A., Barnett, J., Smith, D., Barlow,
C. (February, 1999). “Building Collaborative Technological Systems: The Blending of State
Education and Higher Education with an International Flavor.” Paper presented at the American
Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, February 26, 1999, Washington, D.C.
Barlow, C., Willis, M., Moriarty, A., Blair, S., Brannon, C., Sizemore, V., & Prince, T.
(February, 1999). “Pace and Structure in the Primary Classroom: A Comparative Study of
American and English Classrooms.” Paper presented at the American Association of Colleges for
Teacher Education, February 25, 1999, Washington, D.C.
McIntyre, E., Jones, D., Willis, M., Smith, L., Cantrell, S., & Newsome, F. (1999).
“Kentucky’s Collaborative Center for Literacy Development.” Paper presented at the National
Reading Conference, December 1, 1999, Orlando, FL.
Freeland, K., & Willis, M. (September 1998). “Collaboration in Methods Courses.” Paper
presented at the Kentucky Association of Teacher Educators, Lexington, KY.
Norton, J., Willis, M., Barlow, C., Moriarty, A., Grindstaff, C., Blair, S., Peake, C.,
Brannon, C., Sizemore, V., & Prince, T. (September 1998). “All in a Day’s Learning: A
Comparative Study of the Use of Instructional Time in American and English Classrooms.” Paper
presented at the Kentucky Association of Teacher Educators, Lexington, KY.
Blair, S., Willis, M., Moriarty, A., Smith, D., Freeland, K., Padulah, J., Evans, R., &
Barnett, J. (September 1998). “Collaboration: Technological Education Systems Between
Appalachian Kentucky and Sunderland, England.” Paper presented at the Kentucky Association
of Teacher Educators, Lexington, KY.
Willis, M. (December 1998). “An Investigation of Second and Third Graders’ Oral
Responses to Humorous Children’s Literature.” Paper presented at the National Reading
Conference, December 3, 1998, Austin, TX.
School and District Professional Development Workshops
I have developed and delivered numerous school- and district-based professional
development workshops for teachers and administrators throughout MSU’s service region. I have
also served as a consultant for several districts as they pursue grants and other outside funding.
The list is too lengthy to include here. Available upon request.
Other comparable professional service:
Lockhart, R., Peterson, N., & Willis, M. “Advanced Outreach Institute: The Reading-
Writing Workshop.” Co-sponsored by the Morehead Writing Project and MSU’s Kentucky
Reading Project. Morehead State University, Morehead, KY, June 25-29, 2001.
Grant Awards / Contracts
Middle School Learning Strategies Academies. $40,000+ per year. At the request of
three regional school districts, I am providing long-term professional development for selected
middle school teachers related to literacy. Each district has contracted with the university to buy
out my courses so that I can focus on working with these teachers. 2006-2009.
Collaborative Center for Literacy Development: Early Childhood Through
Adulthood – Kentucky Reading Project at MSU. $67,000 per year. Submitted by
University of Kentucky in collaboration with Eastern Kentucky University, Kentucky State
University, Morehead State University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University,
University of Louisville, Western Kentucky University, and the National Center for Family
Literacy. (S. B. 186 appropriated funding for the CCLD and the subsequent establishment of the
Kentucky Reading Projects, summer institutes and demonstrations sites at each of the state’s
A KRP for Region 8 was established in 2000-2002 and MSU re-assumed responsibility
for implementation in 2004. An additional $67,000 per year was awarded. Shared directorship
with Dr. Faye Newsome and Ms. Luana Greulich.
Kentucky Reading Project / Elementary Reading Academy - Pike County Board of
Education. Pike Co. Schools sponsored their own Kentucky Reading Project for more than 80
elementary teachers (3 cadres). 2000-2005.
Summer Fellowship for the Enhancement of Teaching Grant, $500. “An Investigation
of the Relationship of Music, Content Area Reading, and Writing in Two Elementary Classrooms”
submitted by Dr. Greg Detweiler and Dr. Melinda R. Willis.
Advanced Outreach Institute: The Reading-Writing Workshop. ($7560.00) Funded in
part by the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development, University of Kentucky, April 2001.
Reading Recovery: An Early Intervention Reading Program. Funded by Council on
Post-secondary Education for establishment of a training site at MSU. ($59,000, first year;
$60,000 second year) Involves both initial training and continuing contact with teachers.
Reading First. Funded by Kentucky Department of Education. Supports two state coaches
assigned to schools who receive funding from this initiative. $244,314.00 per year.
Other professional activities
Partnership for Kentucky Schools. Worked as an early literacy consultant to plan the
program lessons for use with volunteers from state businesses as they were trained to assist in
literacy instruction in elementary schools throughout the state. This included materials
production, lesson directions, and theoretical basis. 2001-2002.
KET Video Series Project. Involved in creating, planning, and participating in the taping of
an 8-part series, “Designing and Managing a Balanced Approach to Literacy” for KET
Professional Development video series. In our region, I worked with Cherie Deskins, 2 nd grade
teacher at W. R. Castle Elementary School, Johnson County Schools. 2000.
Chosen as Outstanding Educator for 2002-2003 by the Epsilon Theta Chapter of Kappa Delta
Gamma International Honor Society, May 2003.
Chosen as "Master Teacher" for the College of Education by the MSU Greek Councils, May 2003.
Actively serve on department, college, and university committees.
Other comparable service
Collaborative Center for Literacy Development Advisory Board. University of Kentucky, 1998-
Faculty Mentor, Honorary Hall Faculty Program for Thompson Hall students/residents.
Provides opportunities for faculty-student interactions in non-academic settings. 1998-present.
Liaison between the College of Education (formerly the College of Education and Behavioral
Sciences) and the Kentucky Educational Development Corporation’s Professional Development
Coordinators. Attended professional development coordinators’ meetings to share information
regarding educational opportunities and potential services related to MSU personnel and
programs; worked with schools to assist in research and establishment of instructional best
Kentucky Reading Association State Advisory Board. International Reading Association’s state
organization provides leadership and opportunities for professional development for teachers
throughout the state. Assist with state conference planning and establishment of local councils.
Kentucky Reading Project Directors/Curriculum Planning Chairperson, 1999-2001.
Actively involved in MSU University Chorus and Women’s Chorus. Assist with program design
for all concerts, 2000-present.
Faculty sponsor for College of Education homecoming float entitled, “Educators as Architects:
Constructing New Traditions at MSU.” Fall, 2002.
Rowan County / MSU Adult Basic Education and Learning Center, Advisory Board member,
2001-2002. Actively served on Storybook Christmas committee.
Tenure Review Committee member for the Department of Counseling, Leadership, Adult and
Higher Education (formerly known as the Department of Leadership and Secondary Education)
and the Department of Health, Physical Education and Sports Sciences, 2002-2005.
Department Faculty Mentor for Chris Miller, Kitty Hazler, and Christina Walton 2002-present.