The Teacher's Desk

Jacquie's Gold Stars

Clip art image of a gold star

Each month I honor an individual, team, program, school, or piece of legislation that is helping to promote a quality education for kids. I welcome your nomination for this honor, and I will consider thoughtfully any name(s) you recommend. You can use the "Contact " link to make a nomination. Please explain why you think your nominee should be honored, and let me know how I can contact you for verification. And if you're one of a group that has gone the extra mile, tell me about it. It doesn't hurt to blow your own horn once in awhile. And besides, nobody will ever accuse you of bragging because I don't ever reveal the nominator's name.


May's's Gold Star goes to...

Photo of Steven L. Layne

Steven L. Layne

Author — Speaker — University Professor — Bibliophile

This month's Gold Star recipient hardly needs an introduction. Steven Layne is known (and loved) throughout the literary world. As one educator wrote, "It's not possible to talk or listen to Steve Layne for more than 30 minutes and not want to read a book."

In 2002 I met Steve for the first time at an IRA conference in N. Carolina. Although he was the keynote speaker and I was merely a presenter, he treated me as an equal. Since that occasion we have appeared together at numerous IRA conferences, and I've learned something new from him every time.

Dr. Layne serves as fulltime Professor of Literacy Education at Judson University in Elgin, Illinois. His vast experience of working with multi-age students in public and private schools gives him a unique camaraderie with teachers and librarians, and his award winning books for children and young adults provides another dimension to his dynamic conference presentations. When Steven Layne speaks, people listen — and laugh. Layne educates through experience and common sense (backed up by research), and he entertains via a wicked sense of humor. He is definitely a crowd favorite.

Here is a partial list of Dr. Layne's accomplishments:

Dr. Layne has authored 25 books including multiple award-winning titles in both the picture book and young adult genres including his beloved classic—The Teachers' Night before Christmas, the teen thriller This Side of Paradise and the heartwarming picture book Love the Baby. Dr. Layne's first professional book for educators, Igniting a Passion for Reading: Successful Strategies for Building Lifetime Readers was released in late 2010 to wide acclaim. (It is my favorite professional book.) His newest title is the picture book Stay with Sister—the third in a picture book trilogy about a heartwarming family of bunnies.

Steve lives in St. Charles, Illinois with his wife Debbie (a K-12 curriculum coordinator), and their four children: Grayson, Victoria, Jackson and Candace — and an adorable 65 lb. collie named Shelby.

Writing Honors:

And finally, Steve pays it forward in his service to mankind. He...

Dr. Steven Layne is not only extremely accomplished in his professional roles, he is one of the finest human beings I know. I am proud to call him my friend.


Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on