The College of New Jersey Logo

Apply     Visit     Give     |     Alumni     Parents     Offices     TCNJ Today     Three Bar Menu

The 2023 TCNJ Summer Institute for English Language Arts Educators

The English Department at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) is offering a summer institute for English language arts teachers on “The Power of Story.”  The four-day institute provides 20 hours of professional development, covers a wide range of topics, and is taught by TCNJ faculty.

For more information about registration, contact Michelle Ordini (
For more information about the institute’s curriculum, contact Glenn Steinberg (

Online Registration:

The English Department

The English Department at TCNJ boasts 18 full-time faculty with expertise in literature from Homer to Toni Morrison.  Faculty approach literary study from a variety of theoretical foundations, including feminism, gender and sexuality studies, ecocriticism, reception and reader-response theory, new historicism, and postcolonial studies.  Faculty publications include books from Iowa University Press, Oxford University Press, Palgrave Macmillan, Routledge, Princeton University Press, Indiana University Press, Cornell University Press, and the University of Minnesota Press, as well as articles in Modern PhilologyComparative DramaQuaker StudiesPMLARadical TeacherAuto/Biography StudiesAmerican Drama, and many more.

Graduates of the English Department are a highly accomplished and energetic group. Each year, school districts in New Jersey, New York , and Pennsylvania hire dozens of teachers trained in the English Department, often commenting on the high level of preparation that they have received. Other graduates have found an array of satisfying careers in publishing, advertising, media relations, the pharmaceutical and financial industries, and in both the state and federal government. In recent years, our graduates have studied law at such schools as Georgetown, Yale, William and Mary, Michigan, and Rutgers. They have earned advanced degrees in language and literature from NYU, Princeton, UNC-Chapel Hill, Indiana, Maryland, UPenn, and the University of Chicago.

The Summer Institute- July 10-13, 2023

Why Storytelling?

In Minds Made for Stories, author and educator Tom Newkirk argues that narrative is “the deep structure of all good writing” (19).  Although many K-12 standards, including the NJ ELA standards and the CCSS, distinguish between narrative and informational text as well as narrative, informational, and argumentative writing, Newkirk troubles these categories, asserting they are not as clear cut as they might seem.  We instinctively use story “to inform, to persuade, to entertain, to express” (6); we use story to make sense of the world and our own place in it.  Narrative is “a property of mind, an innate and indispensable form of understanding” (34). This summer’s institute will explore the power of story in the texts we read, write, and teach.   

Each day of the institute follows the same schedule:

9:00-9:30am – check-in and light breakfast (provided)

9:30-11:30am – morning workshop

11:30am-12:30pm – lunch (not provided)

12:30-1:30pm – discussing classroom applications with the coordinator

1:30-3:30pm – afternoon session

Complimentary copies of the main texts for the workshops will be provided to participants.

Institute Goals

While each day of the institute features its own specific goals, the institute as a whole has been designed so that participants will

  • analyze examples of classic, contemporary, and multimodal “storytelling” texts in a variety of genres (the Bible, Homer, short stories, graphic novels, fanfiction, digital texts);
  • engage in acts of storytelling, drafting fiction as well as non-fiction;
  • expand their critical repertoire and be able to deploy that expanded critical toolkit in designing and delivering material to their students;
  • participate in a community of teachers that promotes curiosity and inquiry and that offers mentorship from experts in literature, composition, language, creative writing, and pedagogy.

Throughout the week, participants are provided with specific examples of how student engagement with stories and storytelling aligns with the New Jersey Student Learning Goals for English Language Arts: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language (6-12).

Day 1: Narratives Ever After: Fairy Tales from the Renaissance to the Postmodern by Prof. Jo Carney

Day 2:  Mí María: Disaster Narratives and the Language Arts Classroom by Prof. Lisa Ortiz

Day 3: Storytelling Beyond Plot: A Very Short Introduction to Narrative Theory by Prof. Felicia Jean Steele

Day 4: Flash Fiction by Prof. Madeline Anthes 

Institute Coordinator

Emily Meixner, coordinator of TCNJ’s Secondary English Education program, meets daily with participants to consult about the topics of the institute and practical classroom applications.  She is also available to consult individually with participants who want to develop a personalized project (lesson plan, curriculum, teaching materials, or other).

Prof. Emily Meixner (institute coordinator)


Emily Meixner is the coordinator of TCNJ’s Secondary English Education program.  She received her B.A. in English, French and Secondary Education from Loras College (Dubuque, IA), her M.A. in American Studies from Michigan State University, and her Ph.D. in Curriculum Theory & Multicultural Teacher Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Professor Meixner regularly teaches secondary English methods courses and courses on children’s and young adult literature. Her research interests include teacher identity formation, LGBTQ young adult literature, and multicultural pre-service teacher preparation. She also works regularly in local school districts providing professional development on such topics as reading/writing workshop, reading strategies and close reading, reading in the content areas, and young adult literature.  Professor Meixner’s scholarship has been published in Radical Teacher, The ALAN Review, Voices from the Middle, English Leadership Quarterly, and Multicultural Perspectives.