“The qualities of good writing are complex and nuanced. But they can be named, and I’m
convinced they can be taught. Of all the arts, writing should be among the most democratic:
All one needs is paper and a pen – and I would suggest, a teacher or two along the way who
work to make the intangible tangible, so every student might know the joy of writing well.”
~ Nancie Atwell in Lessons That Change Writers, 2002

About the workshops


VeRB (Valencia) facilitates workshops for writers and professional development for English teachers and other literacy educators. Select from a workshop below or contact VeRB for customized literacy solutions.

Writing as Performance Art:

The mission of this course is to promote the teaching and learning of effective oral communication via the arts of writing, speaking, listening and thinking–all vital skills that promote self-healing, self-knowledge, and eventual self-actualization. This course is appropriate for aspiring writers and public speakers as well as experienced writers, performers, and orators.

What Every English Teacher Should Know About Language, Literacy & Reading:

Many teachers struggle when it comes to understanding the nuanced differences and complex interactions between the discipline of English/Language Arts and literacy as a master skill set. Building upon the work of Filmore & Snow (2000), Heath (1993) & Hoyle (1999), this course introduces new and experienced teachers to pertinent concepts from the fields of linguistics, speech pathology, and critical literacy theory, which will inform and eventually improve their classroom instruction.

Poets, Poetry & Poetics:

How to Read Literature: Text Analysis for Explicit & Implicit Meaning

Imitation is Not Just Flattery: The Use of Model Texts in Classroom Settings

Diction, Tone & Voice

Spectators & Commentators: Grooming Listeners & Speakers Who Are Engaged & Respectful

This course provides secondary and collegiate level educators with specific instructional strategies to support students as they learn to initiate and participate in a range of high level collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) on a variety of topics, texts, and issues. Upon completion, participates will be confident in their ability to support students’ academic language development as they engage and deploy tools of rhetoric.




“Fabulous & Concise! Best presentation of the day! Thank you!” -Compton Unified School District

“Great facilitator with great information and very energetic!” -Compton Unified School District

“Mrs. Church-Williams was an outstanding instructor!” -Compton Unified School District

“This was the best common core training I have ever attended!” -Compton Unified School District

“Educated, entertaining, informative black woman. I wasn’t prepared to enjoy this presentation-THANK YOU!!! Definitely will contact you in the near future!”

-Cleveland Public School District

“I’m excited. THANKS for all you do!!!!!!!! I see an increase in students success also in their thinking,collaborating and meaningful academic conversations. Today in class they are creating a formative assessment for their peers and have the academic language accompanied by the instructional strategy. Learning students equals a Happy Teacher! My co-teacher and I are excited to reflect, learn, apply, and fly!!!”

-E/LA Instructor, Chicago Public Schools



 Spring 2015: “The World is Round”
Performed for the Read Local Book Festival, Durham, NC

Spring 2015: “Phonics & Literacy for Older Struggling Readers”
Presented for Scholastic Achievement Partners, SC Literacy Summit Hilton Head, SC

Spring 2014: “Addressing the Rigorous Demands of the Common Core State Standards”
Presented for Scholastic Achievement Partners, SC Literacy Summit Hilton Head, SC

Fall 2012: “The Pygmalion Effect”: The Impact of Teacher Expectations on Student Learning
Presented for the International Center for Leadership in Education Albany, NY

Summer 2012: “Running” Towards Literacy: Scaffolding Reading Instruction for All Learners
Presented at the Summer Institute for Durham Public Schools Durham, NC

Spring 2009: The “Print Rich” Home
Presented at Kitchen Table Conversations for Durham Public Schools Durham, NC

Fall 2008: Creating Great Expectations: Moving from Good to Great
Presented with B. Joseph for Richland School District One Columbia, SC


Honors & Awards


Spring 2010: Library Services and Technology Grant – $25,000; State Library of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC

Spring 2010: Rotary District 7710 Literacy Grant – $1,500; Durham Chapter of Rotary International, Durham, NC

Spring 2005: A+ Award for Employee Excellence; Granville County Schools, Oxford NC


Professional Activities/Accomplishments


The Herald Sun

2 years ago | 525 views |

By Matthew E. Milliken

“..The readings, school librarian Valencia Butler Church said, “help students with literacy because it helps them with their fluency. Hearing good reading is good for students.”Neal has ordered more than enough copies of “No Way Out” for every student, staffer and teacher. The school is trying to give them to parents, fire fighters and police officers in the Neal community.”Everybody’s getting copies,” Church said. “We’re inviting people in the neighborhood. You can have a copy!”

Read more: The Herald-Sun – Rotary Club initiative offers free books readings to help students


The Herald Sun

2 years ago | 775 views |

By Matthew E. Milliken

“…Valencia Butler Church is Neal’s school librarian and a coordinator of the One Book, One School, One Community event that included the distribution of 1,000 free copies of “No Way Out.” The month-long One Book, One School program, which wrapped up Friday, featured readings of the book and quiet time for reading.

“The kids just flew through the book,” Church said, adding: “If we do it again, perhaps we need to do two books.”

As Neal’s academic coach, Ursula Howard is responsible for helping the school’s instructors teach reading. She said this year’s event was a worthy follow-up to one two years ago with “The Bully” by Paul Langan.

“The students bought into it a lot more this time,” Howard said. “As a result of the reading, they were coming back to Ms. Church asking for another book, which is a wonderful thing.”

Read more: The Herald-Sun – One Book program creates voracious readers


Philosophy of Education Statement


I. The Purpose

I believe that a philosophy of education should address the educator’s beliefs about learners, purpose of education, the process by which education takes place, and the desired outcomes of that process.

I believe that my purpose is to lead learners in a process that will move them toward personal empowerment and self-actualization. I believe that teaching is both my unique calling and my grave responsibility.

I believe that the purpose of education is to foster broadmindedness within individuals while at the same time developing the knowledge, skill set, and character of the individual being educated. As the learner is exposed to varying subject matter and experiences their hearts and minds will open to the fact that they have choices. As the learner grows in knowledge, they become empowered to choose their own destinies and this leads to learners who are more compassionate and altruistic.

II. The Process

I believe the educational process should be rooted in best practices and current research such that learners may benefit from innovations in the field.

I believe as do Hammond and Collins that the educational process should be self-directed and this autonomy will facilitate and promote emancipatory learning and social action.

I believe, as did Vygotsky, Piaget, and Dewey that learners construct their own knowledge as a result of the scaffolding and the guidance of knowledgeable instructors, and the value of their own experiences.

I believe that the educational process should inherently involve collaboration as it is key to any true learning process whether it be between the learner and the instructor or between groups of learners.

I believe that the educational process should incorporate the theory of multiple intelligences and account for the broader range of human potential. The traditional definition of intelligence is too limited and should include those who are gifted in terms of linguistic intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, spatial intelligence, musical intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence, and naturalist intelligence.

III. The Desired Outcomes

I believe that education is a tool for social, economic, and intellectual mobility. By acquiring more education individuals discover ways in which to be healthy, happy, and productive.

I believe that education will lead to a more just society. As people learn they become less prone to violence, jealously, hatred and other vices.

I believe that education should foster curiosity and facilitate the process by which learners become reflective, analytical, and critical.

IV. Beliefs About Learners

I believe that all people are capable of learning. Learners vary in the ways and the rates at which they learn, but all people are capable of learning something.

I believe that learners are diverse and that this diversity should not prohibit them from being treated in a fair and equitable manner which acknowledges and celebrates these differences. These differences present opportunities for multiplistic teaching and learning within the classroom. This diversity should lead instructors to use a variety of teaching methods which incorporate diversity in learning styles, abilities, cultures, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation. This method of instruction leads instructors to teach for tolerance.

I believe as did Knowles that adult learners are different from children and that as an instructional coach and mentor, it is important to help my peers and colleagues find purpose and meaning in their educational pursuits. Therefore, their learning must be meaningful and applicable to their lives.


Cooney, William., Cross, Charles. & Trunk, Barry. (1993).From Plato to Piaget: The Greatest
Educational Theorists From Across the Centuries and Around the World.
New York: University Press of America.

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York: Collier Books.

Gardner, Howard. Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice. New York: Basic, 1993.
​Hammond, M., & Collins, R. (1991). Self-directed learning: Critical practice.
London: Nichols/GP Publishing.

Knowles, M. (1968). Andragogy, not pedagogy. Adult Leadership, 16(10), 350-352, 386.

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A
comprehensive guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Piaget, J. (1972). Intellectual evolution from adolescent to adulthood. Human Development,
16, 346-370.
Smith, M. K. (2002). Jerome S. Bruner and the Process of Education. Retrieved May 27, 2009, from The Encyclopedia of Informal Education.

Standing at OH 2015