Literacy and Neuroscience Researcher Kelly B. Cartwright Named Spangler Distinguished Professor of Early Child Literacy
The Cato College of Education has named Dr. Kelly B. Cartwright the Spangler Distinguished Professor of Early Child Literacy.
The first to hold the position, Cartwright previously served as Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Teacher Preparation at Christopher Newport University in Virginia, and directed the Reading, Executive Function, And Development Lab (READLab), while contrbuting to the Center for Education Research and Policy.
Cartwright’s arrival supports the college’s commitment to advancing early literacy education and addressing barriers to instruction head-on.
“A challenge for educators is that reading is often framed as a simple process, a view that is compounded by the fact that reading often feels simple for many educators who got into the profession because they love reading and likely learned to read easily,” Cartwright explained. “Science shows that behind that simplicity, reading is tremendously complex and requires the brain to orchestrate many, many processes simultaneously. Those processes may occur below the level of conscious awareness in skilled readers, but they must be taught explicitly for learners and individuals who experience challenges in learning to read.”
The C.D. Spangler Distinguished Professorship of Early Child Literacy was established at four North Carolina universities through an $8 million gift from the C.D. Spangler Foundation with the goal of supporting reading proficiency in North Carolina’s children. The professorship is designed to attract and retain top scholars who will play a pivotal role in training both future and in-service teachers, while also contributing to the development of future literacy faculty.
Cato College of Education Dean Malcolm Butler said Cartwright will be a valuable member of the team, noting, “Dr. Cartwright is a trailblazer in the field of early literacy, and her impact has been profound. Her extensive experience in neuroscience, teacher preparation, and literacy research aligns seamlessly with our mission to foster excellence in education.”
Cartwright’s groundbreaking book, “Executive Skills and Reading Comprehension: A Guide for Educators,” is recognized as a pivotal contribution to the field. She has also served on the Board of Directors of the Literacy Research Association and as a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. In community work, Cartwright brings experience building sustainable partnerships with K-12 teachers across the United States to enhance understanding and improve reading outcomes for struggling students.
She explained why now is the right time to join the Cato College of Education:
“UNC Charlotte and the Cato College of Education are clearly on an upward trajectory, positively impacting literacy initiatives across the state of North Carolina and beyond. On my visits to UNC Charlotte, I encountered a welcoming, dynamic faculty and supportive, engaged administrators who are all sincerely and equally committed to improving education and literacy to meet the individual needs of diverse students. I am looking forward to working alongside faculty colleagues in the Cato College of Education and in the Department of Reading and Elementary Education to advance our shared goals of improving literacy for all learners.”
Cartwright’s official start date is August 12, 2024.