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Leah Panther

Assistant Professor of Literacy Education

Leah Panther


B.A. – Augustana College, 2008 – Secondary English Education; Art Education
M.Ed. – Park University, 2012 – Literacy Education; Reading Specialist
Ph.D. – University of Missouri Kansas City, 2018 – Curriculum and Instruction; Language and Literacy Emphasis; Educational Leadership, Policy, and Foundations; Higher Education Administration Emphasis


Dr. Leah Panther is an assistant professor of literacy education in the Tift School of Education at Mercer University at the Atlanta campus since 2018. She has taught preschool through higher education across urban, suburban, rural, and international school settings. Her experiences with teaching, teacher leadership, non-profits, and research center on literacy instruction in urban educational contexts to support culturally and linguistically diverse adolescents. Her work has been published in The Reading Teacher, Teachers College Record, and The Journal of Family Strengths.


Adolescent literacies, critical sociocultural theories of literacy, disciplinary literacy, urban education, urban religious schools, culturally sustaining pedagogies, instruction for culturally and linguistically diverse students, literacy leadership and administration


Dr. Leah Panther’s scholarship explores how educators leverage adolescents’ sociocultural literacies and language practices in diverse urban contexts. This involves using humanizing, critical ethnographic methods to challenge deficit and damage-centered narratives of culturally and linguistically diverse youth. Recently, this work has focused on community accountability within school-university partnerships, culturally sustaining pedagogies in secondary English classrooms, and supporting teacher agency in an era of hyperstandardization.


Panther, L. (in press). “This is manist”: Counterscripts as catalysts for change in the English curriculum. Multicultural Perspectives, 3(22).
Panther, L. & Hughes, S. (in press). “The old black ram”: Using Othello to study racializing language. The English Journal, 109(8).
Panther, L., Barber, R., & Xiques, A. (in press). How do we tell the story?: Community accountability in school-university partnerships. In Chandler, P.T. & Barron, L. (Eds.). Rethinking School-University Partnerships. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
Nash, K., Panther, L., Thomas, R., McNeil, H., & Arce-Boardman, A. (in press).  My teaching comes from them: Mediating guided reading in a multilingual classroom.  In J. Fleming, C. Thompson, & S. Carillo (Eds).  More Mirrors in the Classroom: Using Urban Children's Literature to Increase Literacy. Lanam, MD:  Rowman & Littlefield. 
Panther, L. & Hughes, S. (2020). “Well, I took it there”: Teaching to (disrupt) the text. In Dyches, J., Sams, B., & Boyd, A. (Eds.). Acts of resistance: Subversive teaching across the discipline. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
Panther, L. (2019). “This is music therapy in the real world”: Negotiating standardization, curricularizing joy. Ubiquity: The Journal of Literature, Literacy, and the Arts, 6(2), 1-50.
Marx, D., Torres, T., & Panther, L. (2019). This class changed my life: Using culturally sustaining pedagogies to frame undergraduate research with students of Color. Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research, 3(1), 11-19.
Nash, K. & Panther, L. (2019). The children come full:  From high leverage to humanizing and culturally sustaining literacy practices in urban schools. Teachers College Record, 71(2).
Nash, K., Panther, L., & Arce-Boardman, A. (2018). La historia de mi nombre: A culturally sustaining early literacy practice. The Reading Teacher, 71(5), 605-609.
Nash, K., Hollins, E., & Panther, L. (2016). From best practices to high leverage early literacy practices in urban school contexts. Teachers College Record.
Warner, C., Thomas, R., Nash, K. Bell, C., Strekalova-Hughes, E. Panther, L., & Atiles, J. (2016). Complexity, context, & community: Learning teacher as an interpretive process. The SoJo Journal, 2(1), 59-74.
Pina, P., Nash, K., Boardman, A., Polson, B. & Panther, L. (2015). Engaging teachers, families, and children in culturally and linguistically responsive early literacy practices. Journal of Family Strengths, 15(2), 1-26.


Dr. Panther supports local urban middle and high schools with individualized professional development focused on culturally sustaining disciplinary literacy instruction. A partnership with Tucker High School includes a weekly teaching tip video focused on adolescent literacy, guest column in the weekly faculty newsletter, and “office hours” for the staff.