Every person has the right to be empowered by literacy. Literacy enables us to succeed in schools, participate in contemporary societies, communicate with others, and pursue personal and professional happiness. I have repeatedly experienced the engaging, educational, and transformative powers of story. This is why my research often focuses on the intersections between literacy and literature.

When someone asks me what I do for a living, I proudly tell them “I teach teachers!” There’s great pride and satisfaction in being able to inspire other teachers and make a difference in the lives of children that are being guided by these educators. In my online courses, literature and literacy are both the means and the end, as there is always an amazing focus on language and literacies as both the subject of, and the vehicle for our explorations.

My decade-long experience in elementary schools, as a teacher and a Language Arts counselor to 50 public schools, has allowed me to conclude that meaningful language events occur around engaging texts that have personal and collective meaning for students. It was this realization that prompted me to explore the diverse meaningful language events that can take place around children’s and young adult literature, and the ways in which diverse readers, texts, educators, and educational settings can interact to generate meaning and learning.

A Fulbright scholarship enabled me to attend Illinois State University. In the years that followed my graduation from Illinois State, I was able to further develop my experience and expertise at the University of Nicosia, Central Michigan University, and Boise State.

I consider myself a citizen of the world and I am very much interested and invested in global initiatives and diversity in literacy education. I am an immigrant, with two English Language Learners at home. This experience informs my teaching and research, which frequently emphasize the important role of multicultural and international texts for global awareness and multicultural education. I perceive multicultural education as the affirmation of diverse languages and cultures, and most importantly as the viewing of language and culture through critical lenses of equity and social justice.

Learn more about Petros Panaou.

Petros Panaou
College of Education
Aderhold Hall
Athens, GA