The Michigan Council of Teachers of English is pleased to announce that Dr. April Baker-Bell has been elected as MCTE’s next vice president. Baker-Bell is currently an Assistant Professor of Language and Literacy in the Department of English/ English Education program/ African American and African Studies program at Michigan State University. Previous to her time teaching at the college level, she was a secondary teacher of English Language Arts with the Detroit Public Schools. Baker-Bell’s recent publications have focused on race, language and equity in the literacy classroom, storytelling as self-preservation, and critical media literacy. Her forthcoming book project, Linguistic Justice: Black, Language, Literacy, Identity, and Pedagogy, will be published with the NCTE-Routledge Research Series in February 2020.
In her position statement, Baker-Bell said
I view English Education as a space where learning joins hands with justice, theory meets praxis, and awareness leads to change and action. The root of my professional work stems from my experience being ill-prepared to support my racially and linguistically diverse students’ language and literacy needs when I worked as a high school English Language Arts (ELA) teacher in Detroit. As a result, I carved out a teacher-scholar-activist agenda that moves beyond merely critiquing the linguistic and racial injustices that occur in ELA classrooms, but speak back to them by working at the intersections of theory, research, and practice.
Given our current racial and political climate, many ELA teachers have become increasingly interested in teacher-scholar-activist work that disrupts the racial injustices they are observing in their communities and classrooms. In its commitment to responding to the needs of Michigan teachers, MCTE has been intentional about offering concrete professional development that addresses race and racism in the literacy classroom. To continue to develop English teachers in this area, MCTE needs leaders who are experienced and deeply committed to racial justice; equity. In my work with ELA teachers (preservice and in-service) and English Educators, I work diligently to develop their critical racial literacies and prepare them to implement social justice and anti-racist approaches in their classrooms.
MCTE members might recognize Baker-Bell as the host of MCTE’s Think Spring event in 2018 where she spoke on “Teaching and Race in the Literacy Classroom.” We welcome her to MCTE’s Executive Board and look forward to her leadership!