2017 Concurrent Session Presenters

Melissa Adkins is in her eighteenth year as an educator for Lamar County School District. She spent her first eight years of employment with the district as a teacher at Purvis Elementary and is currently in her ninth year as one of the district's two Instructional Technologists. Melissa has presented at MECA conferences for the last nine years, presented at the MS-Lamp Workshops in 2014, and presented at the Mississippi Reading Association’s conference in 2015. Ms. Adkins recently became a certified Google Educator Trainer, the first person in Mississippi to obtain this distinction.


Kim Becnel is a former children’s librarian and youth services director, and is currently an associate professor of Library Science at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Becnel teaches and researches in the areas of distance education, public libraries, and youth literacy and literature. She co-edited the volume Library Services for Multicultural Patrons: Strategies to Encourage Library Use (2013), and her work has appeared in Children & Libraries, The Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, and Public Libraries.


Mac Buntin is a Senior Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.  Mac’s primary work duties include: coordination of the Summer Library Program, continuing education programs, and rendering advice to public librarians and their trustees. Mac’s MLS was awarded from the University of Alabama.  Roll Tide!


Dianne Butler is a National Certified Librarian, who has retired from the public school library and is working part time at Discovery Christian School as their librarian in Florence, MS.  She travels the state visiting schools and libraries spreading her own special brand of story telling.  The Mississippi Arts Commission has her listed as a Weaver of Story Magic. She enjoys meeting artists, authors and illustrators at the Children's Festival.    


Sarah C. Campbell creates picture books with facts and photographs. Her award-winning books, Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature, Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature, and Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator, are favorites on nonfiction shelves. She serves as the assistant regional adviser for the Louisiana/Mississippi Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Sarah and her husband, Richard, who is co-photographer on the books, live in Jackson, MS.


Bethany Carlisle has served as the Youth Services Coordinator for the Jackson-George Regional Library System based in Pascagoula for the last seven years. Prior to taking the Youth Services Coordinator position, Bethany worked at the Vancleave Public Library where she found great joy in being the community "Library Lady".  When Bethany took an elective undergraduate course in storytelling, she had no idea that storytelling would become one of the many hats she utilized in her career.


Tracy Carr is the Library Services Director at the Mississippi Library Commission, where she has worked for the past 13 years. She also serves as Mississippi’s coordinator for the Center for the Book, and is on the Mississippi Book Festival’s Board of Advisors. She has a Master’s in English from Mississippi State University and a MLIS from The University of Alabama.


Dr. Jane Claes is an elementary school librarian in the Carrollton/Farmers Branch (TX) Independent School District.  A former associate professor of school library and information science, she has taught children’s and young adult literature as well as courses in school library management, collection development and leadership. She has served on the American Library Association’s Odyssey Committee, Robert F. Sibert Committee, the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee, and Notable Videos for Children Committee as well as on the Texas Library Association’s Texas Bluebonnet Award Committee.


Laura K. Clark is a post doc at the Florida Public Archaeology Network which is part of the University of West Florida.  Her research interests include evaluation, emergent literacy, community programming, and digital preservation. 


Tanya DiMaggio is the Children’s Services Coordinator for St. Tammany Parish Library. Tanya received her MLIS from the University of Texas at Austin School of Library and Information Science (now The School of Information.) She has worked as a public children’s librarian for the past 19 years.​ She has co-hosted two Library Cons and as the mom of a teen aged fan​ has attended two My Little Pony conventions​ plus made several costumes.​


Michele Frasier-Robinson is an Assistant Professor and Education & Psychology Librarian at Southern Miss’s Cook Library. She joined the library’s Research Services department in 2014 and she serves as the liaison librarian for Education, Child and Family studies, Library and Information Science, and Psychology. She oversees collection development for the library’s Curriculum Materials Center. She earned an MLIS from Louisiana State University.


Dr. Lee Freeman is a Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in Elementary and Literacy Education at The University of Alabama.  He taught grades 1-7 for 24 years prior to teaching graduate and undergraduate classes for the last 12 years.  His research interests include early literacy, effects and methods of reading aloud to children, and pre-service teacher education and evaluation. E-mail: lfreeman@bamaed.ua.edu


Chuck Galey is a children's book author/illustrator well know for his arts integrated lessons at schools and libraries all over the south. Chuck has been working with the Mississippi Arts Commission as a Teaching Artist for ten years including work with Special Needs students with grants provided by the Kennedy Center for the Arts.


Crystal Giles is a Nationally Board Certified English and Reading teacher at Petal High School.  Last year she had the great honor of being chosen as Petal School District's teacher of the year.  This is her 16th year to teach, and she has started a successful program at her school called Teens as Teachers.  This program pairs English I students with primary students from her district for tutoring sessions that use award winning children's books as their central text.  Teens as Teachers has been beneficial for remediation services and enrichment in Petal High School's literacy program for since 2012. 


Melanie Hays is the librarian at Crystal Springs High School in Crystal Springs, MS. She is from Mendenhall, MS. She received a Bachelor's degree in Secondary English education from William Carey University in 2012. This is her fourth year as a librarian and she has served students in grades K-12 during that time.


Dr. Janet Hilbun is retired faculty(still teaching adjunct) from the University of North Texas Department of Library and Information Science where she taught children's and young adult literature. Prior to that she was faculty at Texas Woman's University and taught children's and young adult literature, school library courses, and information storage and retrieval. In her "prior" live, she taught English and reading in middle and high school and was a middle school librarian. She has a BA from Texas Tech, an MEd from East Texas State (before it was East Texas A&M), and MLS from Texas Woman's University, and a PhD from Rutgers in Library Science.


Shannon Hitchcock was called by the ALAN Review, “A new voice in historical fiction.” Shannon is the author of the Crystal Kite Award-winning book, THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL, hailed for its immediacy and cadenced voice. Her second novel, RUBY LEE & ME, a Scholastic Mother Daughter Book Club pick, is based on Shannon’s real-life experience and the teacher who inspired her as a child.


Linda Williams Jackson was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta town of Rosedale, and likes to spin stories about everyday people in small-town settings. She is the author of the historical middle-grade novel, Midnight Without a Moon, (1/3/17) a book that has been described by reviewers as powerful, poetic, and especially good for classroom use. Though she has lived in a few other states, Linda now resides in Mississippi with her husband, three children, and one very spoiled cat.


Althea Jerome and Kathryn Lewis are professional teaching artists who serve as Storytellers and Scholars of the PrimeTime Reading Program, hosted by the Mississippi Humanities Council. Their work in children's literature focuses on utilizing strategies to develop a love of stories and books. In their work with students and teachers, they frequently emphasize connections between the arts and literacy.


Dr. Lynn Kelley is an Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in Early Childhood, Elementary and Social Studies Education at The University of West Alabama.  She taught grades Preschool-2 for over 33 years prior to teaching graduate and undergraduate classes.  Her research interests include parent involvement, questioning in early childhood, and social studies methods. E-mail: lkelley@uwa.edu


Jennifer R. Luetkemeyer is an assistant professor of library science at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.  Her research interests include school libraries, digital integration, digital learning resources, educational technology, 21st Century Skills, and school culture. 


Mary Beth Magee writes news, reviews and feature articles for print and online publications; cozy Christian fiction, poetry, and devotions, as well as recollections in several anthologies. She has presented to groups across the country, including writing groups and conferences. As a member of the Poplarville Storytellers Guild, she shares stories across the South, including participation in TELLABRATION™, the annual International Day of Storytelling.


Naomi Hurtienne Magola is the Youth Services Librarian for Terrebonne Parish Library.  She received her MLIS from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2007.  She made the move from adult services to children’s services back in 2013 and has never been happier.  Since then she has hosted two Comic Cons at her library and her cosplay wardrobe has grown exponentially.  Next year she plans on cosplaying as Rosie, the most excellent Lumberjanes Camp Director from Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types.


Cheryl Mathis is in her second year as Regional Advisor for the Louisiana/Mississippi Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She writes middle grade fiction and in 2015 was an honor runner-up for the SCBWI Sue Alexander Award. Recently, two of her short stories were published by Pelican Publishing in Bayou Bogeyman Presents: Hoodoo and Voodoo, an anthology of scary stories for middle grade. Cheryl has also been published in the adult short story literary market both online and in print.


Dr. Lillian McEnery is a Professor in the University of Houston Clear Lake Literacy, Language, & Library Science  department. She works with and learns alongside teacher candidates at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral level. Her research interests include Family Literacy, Reading Motivation Factors, and Literacy as an Empowering Agent. She has published in Educational Researcher, Current Issues in Education, Educational Forum, College Teaching, Interchange, and Academic Exchange Journal.   


Tamela Camp Miller has been at educator at Oak Grove Middle School for seventeen year, twelve of which she has served as the teacher-librarian.  She received her MLIS with a certification in Youth Services and Literature from USM in December 2016. Her library passions include reader's advisory, incorporating programming and makerspaces in school libraries, and making school libraries the heart of the school and a space where all students feel welcomed, safe, and are inspired to become life-long readers and library users.


Robin A. Moeller is an associate professor of Library Science at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.  She received her Ph. D in Curriculum Studies from Indiana University, Bloomington.  Her research interests are visual representations of information, as they apply to youth and schooling, as well as cultural facets of youth services and materials.


Carrel Muller is a teacher, librarian and author. She served as Louisiana’s Regional Advisor of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for over twenty years. She has published both fiction and nonfiction in magazines for children and adults. She taught Writing Children’s Literature at University of New Orleans Metro College for many years. A librarian for over twenty years, she is at present the Lower School Librarian at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans. 


Claudia Nisbett is Professor of Education at Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi.  She has been Chair of the Education Department at Faulkner University, a past elementary principal and elementary teacher in the classroom. She is involved in teaching reading and literacy courses at the college as well as the following courses: Classroom Management, Educational Psychology, Children’s Literature, Math for Teachers, and Diagnostic Reading.


Venetia Oglesby serves as the Vice-President for the Magnolia Awards Executive Board.  She is a National Board certified librarian and works at New Hope Elementary school in Columbus, Mississippi.  Venetia loves introducing her youngest students to the joys of reading and children's literature through story time in the library and helping her older students realize just how much fun reading can be.


Nancy Opalko is the Youth Services Librarian and Assistant Branch Manager at the Lafayette County & Oxford Public Library in Oxford, MS. She has been in this position for 20 years and library programming (along with bicycling!) is one of her passions.


Karin Perry and Teri Lesesne are faculty in the Department of Library Science at Sam Houston State University where they teach courses in literature for children, tweens, and teens (among other courses).  They teach an online course for YALSA on Reading with a Critical Eye to help potential committee members discern quality literature.  Each has numerous publications including books, chapters, columns, and articles.  Together they are Professors Proving Professional Development on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSaYxeoQmxa8ECTkGO7TfOg/videos. 


Jon C. Pope, an alumnus of USM's MLIS program, is a former reference librarian who served both adult and young adult populations in a small public library in the mountains of Western North Carolina.  He now serves on the faculty of the University Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. 


Katy Hobgood Ray is a children’s musician, author and the host and producer of Confetti Park, a kid-friendly radio show and podcast featuring music and stories from Louisiana. She is the director of a children’s chorus in New Orleans called the Confetti Park Players who regularly contribute to the soundscape of the radio show. Katy holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Carleton College and a master’s degree in musicology from Tulane University. Katy has published two children's books through Confetti Park, including "Candy Land Ball" and "The Little Mouse Santi," which was named a Kirkus Reviews Indie Book of the Year in 2015.


Jennifer Rifino received her MLS from Rutgers University in 1995 and  has worked as a librarian in  public libraries ever since.  Serving as the Teen Services Librarian for the St. Tammany Parish Library for the past 11 years, she believes  that she has the best job ever.  However, if she had been just 8 inches taller she most likely would have become a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall instead. 


Dr. Dana Rolison serves as the Reading Specialist and an Associate Professor at The University of West Alabama in the College of Education. As a National Board Certified Teacher with over 25 years’ experience in education, she has served as an Early Childhood Educator, a School Improvement Specialist, and worked with the Alabama State Department of Education as a consultant on various committees. Her research interests include early childhood education, elementary education, teacher efficacy, pre-service teacher training, teacher preparedness in dealing with traumatic events, research methodologies, wellness, and assessment. drolison@uwa.edu


Corabel Alexander Shofner was born in the early ‘50s as the youngest child of whimsical parents, and was raised in a family of judges, farmers, and colorful women. She is the author of the middle-grade novel, Almost Paradise, (7/25/17) which is to be published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, and her shorter work has appeared in Word Riot, Willow Review Habersham Review, Hawai’i Review, Sou’wester, South Carolina Review, South Dakota Review, and Xavier Review. A Mississippi native, Corabel now resides in Nashville with her husband.


Augusta Scattergood’s first novel, GLORY BE, was listed on numerous state children’s choice lists and was an NPR’s Back Seat Book Club selection. Her recently-released third book, MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG, is based on research and memories of growing up in the Mississippi Delta. A former school librarian, she now writes, reads and reviews books from her home in St. Petersburg, Fl.


Nancy Varian is the Director of the Center for Professional Development and a Professor at Malone University in Canton, Ohio.  She organizes Malone’s Literacy Celebration bringing in renowned children’s authors and/or illustrators each spring.   She has taught Children’s Literature, Content Reading Strategies, Math and Science Methods, Social and Culturally Diversity classes and Understanding Poverty.  She has done many community outreach


Lonna Vines lives in Charlotte, NC., and is the Children’s Librarian at the Hickory Grove Branch for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library System. Her career includes serving as the Head of Youth Services of the Livingston Parish Library System located in Livingston, LA., and the Teen Coordinator for the Oconee County Library located in Watkinsville, GA. She has an article published in the March/April issue of the Public Libraries Magazine titled, “The Library is a Musical Place: Incorporating Music in Library Programming.”


Ally Watkins is a Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission. She previously worked as a youth services librarian, and will always be one in her heart. Ally serves on the executive board of the Magnolia Award, is co-chair of the Young Person Services Roundtable of the Mississippi Library Association, and received her MLIS from the University of Southern Mississippi.


Meridith Wulff is the Youth Specialist at the Lafayette County & Oxford Public Library in Oxford, MS. She previously served as Executive Director of the Lafayette County Literacy Council and loves sharing her passion for books and learning with children and their parents.