Island University Professor Recognized for Dedication to Literacy Research

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Literacy, the ability to think critically about a text and make meaningful observations, gives individuals access to myriad educational and employment opportunities. This is why Dr. Bethanie C. Pletcher has made it her mission to help young students become lifelong readers by placing engaging books in their hands and arming teachers with techniques to foster a love for reading.

“My passion lies with the reading problems that some children between the ages of 5 and 10 experience. As such, I have conducted research related to the ways in which we prepare teacher candidates to meet the needs of every child they teach,” said Pletcher, Associate Professor of Reading Education at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Thanks to her devotion to literacy research and the promotion of childhood reading in area schools, Pletcher was named the Barbara G. Silverman Endowed Professor of Literacy. Pletcher will serve a three-year term during the academic years 2019-2022.

Silverman was a much-loved librarian who shared her love of reading with all those around her. The Islander alumna passed away in 2012.

“Barbara Silverman opened up the worlds of children in the Coastal Bend community by developing early childhood reading programs,” Pletcher said. “I’m honored to carry her legacy forward by helping teachers help children become life readers.”

During her five years of service at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Pletcher has demonstrated commitment to elevating the University and serving the surrounding area. She has carried out her research agenda through her work with undergraduate and graduate Islanders, colleagues, and in-service teachers and children in five local schools. She also continues to spend time in classrooms as a consultant. Through these experiences, Pletcher brings her observations about how young children “join the literacy club” and how teachers facilitate this process to her research. 

“In selecting Dr. Pletcher, the Awards Committee recognizes her significant, meaningful, and expected future contributions in literary research,” said Dr. David Scott, Dean of A&M-Corpus Christi’s College of Education and Human Development. “As the Barbara G. Silverman Professor, Dr. Pletcher will be expected to continue her literacy research in ways that make a difference to academics and practitioners alike.”

Pletcher’s research interests include the design and implementation of reading clinics on university and elementary school campuses, literacy coaching, and how teacher candidates implement reading intervention.

Pletcher recently received the Jack Cassidy Award for a Scholarly Contribution from the International Literacy Association Specialized Literacy Professionals special interest group. The co-authored publication that prompted her selection was an article titled “Coaching on Borrowed Time: Balancing the Roles of the Specialized Literacy Professional.”

Currently, she is working on a project that focuses on the impact of teacher candidates’ collaborative efforts to combine content and pedagogical knowledge obtained in the classroom. Pletcher has also successfully established a tutoring program for West Oso ISD first and second graders called Islanders Helping the Early Acceleration of Readers Together (IHEART).

“Early and frequent placement of teacher candidates in the field is paramount to their future success as practicing teachers,” Pletcher said. “IHEART provides children who experience difficulty with literacy tasks with early reading intervention, through research-based instruction, and gives teacher candidates opportunities to implement strategies learned in their University reading courses.”

Pletcher received early tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in 2019. She has authored and co-authored nearly 25 peer-reviewed articles and her research has appeared in academic journals, such as The Reading Teacher, Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers Yearbook, Reading Horizons, and The Reading Professor.