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Butler Gets National Council of Teachers Award

Tamara Butler

Tamara Butler, Assistant Professor in the Department of English and African American and African Studies Program, was awarded the 2016 Promising Researcher Award from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), a professional association of educators in English Education, Literacy Studies, and Language Arts.

Butler is the third Michigan State University scholar to receive this honor.

For the Butler, the Promising Researcher Award has three-fold implications.

“It is an honor to receive this award because it provides me with affirmation from well-respected scholars in the field of English Education and literacy studies that I, as a junior scholar, am ‘doing good work,’” Butler said. “The award signifies that scholars also believe that youth voices, community engagement, and creativity are central to changing the way we see and do education. I also see the award as an agreement between scholars and me that I am expected to continue to do good work—that I will continue to ‘do no harm’ in communities where I serve as community member, researcher, scholar, friend, colleague, and more.”

Butler received the award for her research, “We Need a Song”: Sustaining Critical Youth Organizing Literacies through World Humanities,” which follows the creative processes of four female high school students of color as they bring attention to human sex trafficking. In an effort to expand the boundaries of activism to include youth work within the classroom, Butler explored how art, storytelling, and other creative processes can create spaces for youth, community members, and educators to collectively engage in social justice work.

“I am forever grateful to the students, teachers, community members, and parents who trusted me enough to enter their lives, listen to their stories and experiences, and develop relationships that will (hopefully) transform communities within and beyond the academy,” Butler said.

Butler received her Ph.D. in Education from The Ohio State University in 2014 before joining the faculty at Michigan State University. Her research and teaching interests focus on critical literacies, youth activism, and humanizing research methodologies.

Established in 1970, the Promising Researcher Award competition is open to individuals who have completed dissertations within two years preceding the award year. Studies entered are related to the teaching of English and/or the language arts. Individuals then go through a blind submission process that is reviewed by the NCTE’s Standing Committee for Research.

- College of Arts & Letters website

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