By Todd Nesloney and Travis Crowder

The warmth of summer seems to pass too quickly, and as July stretches toward August, many of us begin thinking of the moments when we will meet kids and coworkers for another year of learning. For us, summer is a time to rejuvenate—a renewal of both body and mind. But in those moments of rest, with refreshed minds, we have a beautiful opportunity to plan and to synthesize ways to inspire those around us in the upcoming months.

The Foundation of Literacy

One of the more pressing issues right now in education is literacy. For decades, reading and writing have been at the forefront of standards movements and educational reform policies. While there are intersections in the standards and reforms that may give us pause, there is no question that literacy is foundational to everything we do with kids and the work we do as leaders.

We began collaborating around reading and writing curriculum, and since the first time we wrote together, we have watched our understanding of these critical skills grow. And it has grown because we have basked in the presence of numerous resources including podcasts, books—both fiction and nonfiction—and videos. And we have brought as many as possible to this article for you!

Don’t think of this as a to-do list. Instead, think of this as a collection you can revisit again and again. Choose something that grabs your attention, then make your way to the others. All these resources are connected to leadership and literacy, two elements of education that we are very passionate about. We hope you find these resources meaningful and that they spark within you a deeper love for this work we do.

When you read or listen to something that resonates with you, please share on social media! We love to stretch our thinking and learn from those around us.



  • “Sparks in the Dark: Lessons, Ideas, and Strategies to Illuminate the Reading and Writing Lives in All of Us” by Travis Crowder and Todd Nesloney
  • “The Ten Minute Principal” by Evan Robb
  • “180 Days” by Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle
  • “Being the Change” by Sara Ahmed
  • “We Got This” by Cornelius Minor


Todd Nesloney is TEPSA’s Director of Culture and Strategic Leadership. He is an award winning educator, author and international speaker.

Travis Crowder, a National Board Certified Teacher, teaches middle school students in North Carolina. He co-hosts the popular podcast series “Sparks in the Dark” and is co-author of “Sparks in the Dark”.

TEPSA News, August 2019, Vol 76, No 4

Copyright © 2018 by the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association. No part of articles in TEPSA publications or on the website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association.

The Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA), whose hallmark is educational leaders learning with and from each other, has served Texas PK-8 school leaders since 1917. Member owned and member governed, TEPSA has more than 5,900 members who direct the activities of 3 million PK-8 school children. TEPSA is an affiliate of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

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