Dr. Carol Clymer, Co-Director

Bachelor of Arts, Spanish, Cedar Crest College (1973)
Master of Arts in Teaching, Secondary Education, New Mexico State University (1975)
Ed.D., Curriculum and Instruction, New Mexico State University (1978)

Carol has extensive experience developing and evaluating programs to improve the education and employment prospects of low-income and/or low skilled individuals. She recently worked as a consultant on the Urban and Aspen Institute’s evaluation team for the Accelerating Opportunities Initiative. Prior to this work, Carol was a senior program director at Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) where she oversaw a number of projects aimed at enabling youth and young adults to access employment and education. For P/PV, Carol also designed and delivered capacity building strategies, including tools and curriculum for practitioners. Carol was also the Director of Literacy and Workforce Development at El Paso Community College, in Texas. In this capacity, she wrote and administered federal, state and local grants to support adult education, workplace and family literacy, and career development for low-skilled and low-income adults – including those with limited literacy in their native language of Spanish.


Dr. Esther S. Prins, Co-Director

Bachelor of Arts, Sociology, Summa Cum Laude (1994)
Master of Science, Adult Education (1999)
Ph.D., Adult Education (2003)

Esther provides leadership and research in adult and family literacy. Her research examines the ways in which social class, culture, race/ethnicity, and gender influence how learners participate in, and benefit from, adult education. Her other research interests include gender and adult education, civic engagement, and participatory approaches to education, community development, and research. Esther previously coordinated an adult education program and taught ESL classes to Latino/a immigrants in Chicago. She has conducted research and worked in rural and urban educational and community settings in the U.S., Belize, El Salvador, and Ghana. She also teaches the following graduate courses: Family Literacy; Language, Literacy, Identity, and Culture in Global Contexts; and Politics, Language and Pedagogy: Applying Paulo Freire Today.


Dr. Elisabeth L. Grinder, Early Childhood Specialist

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology (1981)
Master of Science, Child Psychology (1989)
Ph.D., Curriculum and Instruction (Early Childhood Education) (1994)

Elisabeth has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education from The Pennsylvania State University. She joined the Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy and the Goodling Institute in 2002, but has been working with family literacy programs since 1997. Dr. Grinder's work with family literacy programs included providing support in the areas of early childhood assessment and evaluations; conducting assessment trainings; development of training materials; development of family literacy standards; and development of self-assessment and monitoring tools for the early childhood, parenting education, and parent-child interactive literacy components of family literacy programs. Her current work involves research on parent leadership in literacy programs and updating the Goodlng Institute website.


Dr. Blaire Willson Toso, Research Associate

Bachelor of Arts, Spanish Literature (1987)
Master of Arts, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) (1989)
Ph.D., Adult Education, (2010)

Blaire conducts research on a variety of topics, such as parent engagement and leadership and the benefits and outcomes of literacy for adults. She is also involved in professional development projects that focus on career pathways for adult basic education students, teaching reading to adults, and English as a second language (ESL). Her work continues to build on her studies and her past experiences as an ESL teacher, curriculum designer, and ESL and bilingual methods instructor. She has lived and worked extensively outside of the U.S. and brings this perspective to her work. She continues to present and publish on a variety of topics pertaining to adult education, family literacy, and English language acquisition. Her particular interests within these arenas are student leadership, immigrant experiences with education, mothering and literacy, and agency.


Drucie Weirauch, Family Literacy Specialist

Bachelor of Arts, English (1972)
Master of Education, Adult Education (1994)

Drucie Weirauch has a B.A. in English with a teaching certificate and an M.Ed. in Adult Education from Penn State. She taught language arts in public schools for 7 years and was a museum educator/coordinator for literature and music at The Carnegie in Pittsburgh for five years. In the five years prior to coming to Penn State, she was on the faculty in the College of Education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, directing two programs to recruit and train teachers to work in urban schools. Her current work involves improving data quality and use, professional development, and practitioner action research. She teaches the on-line course, "Introduction to Family Literacy," for Penn State's World Campus. Her research interests include social value of adult learning, self-efficacy, and action research.