La Tasha Fields is an adjunct professor for Concordia's School of Education, and she is leading literacy initiatives across Wisconsin.
Literacy is for everyone.
Leading through literacy
La Tasha Fields graduated from Concordia University Wisconsin’s Master of Science in Education – Literacy and Reading Specialist program. She’s also an adjunct professor for Concordia’s School of Education Literacy program. Fields is a literacy leader. She also serves her students in the classroom, her community, and her state.
Fields is currently serving as 2020-2021 president for the Wisconsin State Reading Association (WSRA), their first Black president. Not only is she the WSRA president, Fields is also a Culturally Responsive Practices Teacher Mentor for Milwaukee Public Schools, where she’s worked for 21 years. She also works part time running a literacy program at The Nehemiah Project Inc. which offers Help, Home, and Hope for Teens.
“My passion is to be of service to others, and I find literacy is a vehicle for that,” says Fields.
Fields drives statewide literacy initiatives through the WSRA and aims to improve reading experiences for everyone. “I enjoy finding creative ways to help people enjoy literacy. Literacy can look different other than reading or writing. People can find their livelihood and purpose through literacy.” says Fields, “A lot of people don’t like to read because they haven’t yet found the book they are interested in.”
Turning challenges into successes
The role of the WSRA president is to help visualize and plan the thematic focus for the year. The 2020-2021 WSRA theme is empowerment. Fields leads discussions and action items on many pressing and imperative questions. “What does equity look like?” Also, “What does engagement look like? What does digital literacy look like? Those questions can’t stand alone,” she says, “They are all inter-connected.”
Teachers face a challenging year ahead, but Fields is determined to turn challenges into successes. “My theme focuses on literacy, engagement, and empowerment.” says Fields, “How can we use equity as the thread that holds all three together? How do we foster agency with students and teachers? We need to give teachers a voice because they are on the front line and they know how to service students.”
Teachers continue to teach in classrooms in a variety of ways, including through online learning, in-person classrooms, and a hybrid of the two. In addition to assisting teachers with literacy through health and safety requirements, Fields aims to embolden teachers by recognizing racial injustice.
“Literacy looks different this year. It feels like there’s a double crisis…racial injustice and a global pandemic.” Fields is determined and optimistic. “This pandemic has shown us what it’s important. The pandemic has brought to the forefront some of the inequities different school districts and different challenges children face and I’m thankful for that.”
Fields aims to diversify the WSRA’s participation, noting there are different needs across the state of Wisconsin. “It’s important to have racial and gender diversity to ensure there’s representation and understanding of what’s needed throughout the state. Needs vary across regions and districts.”
It all started through a Concordia class…
Throughout the year, WSRA members meet to plan various literacy projects. They focus on children’s literacy, conferences, or institutes to foster engagement and collaboration across members. “I joined WSRA as a result of a class in Concordia. A professor recommended that I join every literacy organization that I could, and WSRA was one of them. That’s where my passion started.” Fields graduated with her Masters from Concordia in 2008 in MS-Education Literacy.
The Wisconsin State Reading Association (WSRA) provides expertise in literacy practices. Their mission is to “provide leadership, advocacy, and professional learning for the implementation of effective practices, recognizing the complex nature of literacy and engaging students to apply their literacies in meaningful ways in a changing world.” “We are about advocacy for literacy and literacy leadership in Wisconsin,” says Fields.
“I enjoy finding creative ways to help people enjoy literacy. Literacy can look different other than reading or writing. People can find their livelihood and purpose through literacy.” says Fields, “A lot of people don’t like to read because they haven’t yet found the book they are interested in.”
Fields is dedicated and focused
Wisconsin needs leaders like Fields to uplift and encourage teachers and students. No matter the challenges ahead, Fields is unwavering and dedicated to improving the lives of teachers and students this year. “It is the teachers who are forced to look at things differently. How do we support teachers?,” commented Fields, ”We need to think differently how we support our teachers and our students. I certainly know we can get the work done. I’m focused.”
Fields teaches in the MS-Education Literacy program at Concordia. The 30-credit program is offered all online, and online accelerated. Start any time and earn your reading teacher license in one year or your masters degree in 2 years. Contact Concordia for more information.
If you want to learn more about this program, you can book a call with one of our Inquiry Support Specialists. They’re equipped to answer your questions and connect you with the information you need.
This post was originally published on September 28, 2020. It has been updated to reflect current information.
If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.