Althier Lazar, Ph.D.

Specializations: Literacy, Culture, Underserved Communities
Office: Merion Hall 229
Phone: (610) 660-3078
Website: Social Equity Literacy Teaching

Within the field of literacy studies, Althier Lazar is an established scholar with expertise in the area of preparing teachers to serve the literacy needs of children in underserved, culturally nondominant communities. Her books include:  Schools of Promise for Multilingual Students:  Transforming Literacies, Learning, and Lives with Patricia Ruggiano Schmidt (2018, Teachers College Press), New Teachers in Urban Schools:  Journeys Toward Social Equity Teaching with Leslie Reich (2016, Springer), Reconceptualizing Literacy in the New Age of Multiculturalism and Pluralism with Patricia Ruggiano Schmidt (Information Age, 2015), Getting to Know Ourselves and Others Through the ABCs:  A Journey Toward Intercultural Understanding with Claudia Finkbeiner (2015, Information Age), Bridging Literacy and Equity: The Essential Guide to Social Equity Teaching with Patricia Edwards and Gwendolyn McMillon (Teachers College Press, 2012), Practicing What We Teach: How Culturally Responsive Literacy Classrooms Make a Difference with Patricia Ruggiano Schmidt (Teachers College Press, 2011), and Learning to Be Literacy Teachers in Urban Schools: Stories of Growth and Change (2004, International Reading Association). Dr. Lazar has published in several scholarly journals, including Teaching and Teacher Education, The Urban Review, Journal of Literacy Research, Journal of Reading Education, The Reading Teacher, The Journal of Reading Education, The Reading Professor, The National Reading Conference Yearbook, Action in Teacher Education, Journal of Family Diversity, and College Teaching.


  • Emerson College, B.S. 1981
  • Simmons College, M.A.T. 1985
  • University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D. 1993

Professional Experience

Professor (Tenured), Department of Teacher Education, Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA.  Fall 2002-present. 

Department Chair, 2009 – 2012.

Associate Professor (Tenured), Department of Literacy, West Chester University, West Chester, PA.  Assistant Professor, 1994-1999; Associate Professor, 1994-2002.

Adjunct Professor, Department of Reading, Writing and Literacy, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. 1993-1995 


Courses Taught

Literacy, Language and Culture

Reading Literature II

Writing in the Classroom  



Sharma, S. and Lazar, A. (forthcoming).  Rethinking 21st century diversity in K-12 education:  Promises, perils and provocations.

Dordrecht, The Netherlands:  Springer.

Lazar, A. and Ruggiano Schmidt, P. (2018).  Schools of promise for multilingual students:  Transforming literacies, learning, and lives.

New York, NY:  Teachers College Press.

Lazar, A. and Reich, L. (2016).  Dispositions that matter:  New teachers making a difference in underserved schools. 

Dordrecht, The Netherlands:  Springer.

Finkbeiner, C. and Lazar, A.  (2015).  Getting to know ourselves and others: A journey toward intercultural understanding

Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishers.

Ruggiano Schmidt, P. and Lazar, A. (2015).  Reconceptualizing literacy in the new age of multiculturalism and pluralism. 

Charlotte, NC: New Age Publishers.

Lazar, A., Edwards, P., McMillon, G.  (2012).  Bridging Literacy and Equity:  The essential guide to social equity teaching.

New York, NY:  Teachers College Press.

Ruggiano-Schmidt, P, & Lazar, A.  (2011).  Practicing what we teach:  How culturally responsive literacy classrooms make a difference. 

New York, NY:  Teachers College Press.

Lazar, A.  (2004). Learning to be literacy teachers in urban classrooms:  Stories of growth and change.

Newark, DE:  International Reading Association.


Scholarly Articles

Lazar, A. (2018).  Creating teachers of promise:  Growth toward equity-mindedness in a landscape of practice. 

Teaching and Teacher Education, 71, 262-270.

Lazar, A.  (2018).  Preservice teachers’ varied experiences in urban literacy practica: A challenge for teacher

educators.  Teaching and Teacher Education, 71, 308-318.

Lazar, A. (2016).  From blame to awareness:  Expanding teacher candidates’ understandings of emergent bilinguals’

literacy and language capacities.  Journal of Family Diversity in Education, 2(1).

Lazar, A. and Sharma, S. (2016). “Now I look at all the kids differently”:  Cracking teacher candidates’ assumptions about school achievement in urban communities.  Action in Teacher Education, 26(2), 120-136.

Lazar, A. (2013).  Degrees toward social justice teaching:  Examining the narratives of three urban teachers.  The Urban Review, 45(5),701-727.

Lazar, A., & Rachko, C.  (2012). Addressing structural racism in picture books:  Advancing teacher development through critical literacy. 

The Journal of Reading Education, 38(1), 10-17.

Lazar, A., Edwards, P., McMilon, G. (2012).  Literacy Beyond the Mainstream: Bridging Pedagogy and Social Equity.  Reading Today, 30(1).


Lazar, A. (2012).  The possibilities and challenges of developing teachers’ social justice beliefs.  2012 Yearbook of Urban Learning, Teaching,

and Research, 33-40.

Lazar, A. and Offenberg, R.  (2011). Activists, allies, and racists:  How teachers approach racism when using picture books that reflect African

American heritage.  Journal of Literacy Research, 43(3), 275-313. 

Lazar, A., Vann Lynch, R.  (2008). Teaching about the African American experience through picture books. The Dragon Lode, 26(2) 7-14.

Lazar, A. and Vann Lynch, R.  (2008).  African American history through picture books: Reconstruction and the early twentieth Century. 

The Journal of Reading Education, 31(1) 42-45.

Lazar, A.  (2007)  Investigating African American Language in literacy education courses.  In D.W. Rowe, R.T. Jimenez, D.L. Compton, D.K.

Dickinson, Y. Kim, K.M. Leander, V.J. Risko (Eds.).  Fifty-Sixth National Reading Conference Yearbook, 319-331. Chicago, Il:  National

Reading Conference.

Lazar, A.  (2007).  It’s not just about teaching kids to read:  Helping preservice teachers acquire a mindset for teaching children in urban

communities.  Journal of Literacy Research, 39, 411-443. 

Lazar, A.  (2006).  Literacy teachers making a difference in urban schools:  A context-specific look at effective teaching. 

Journal of Reading Education. 32, 13-21.


Grants and Awards

Article of the Year Award,  Journal of Reading Education, 2012.

Article of the Year Award,  Journal of Reading Education, 2007.

Ethel Carruth Sustained Leadership in Education Award, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, 2007.

Merit Award in Research, Saint Joseph’s University, 2006  

Faculty Expert Profile