Noted neuroscience researcher Kelly Cartwright named Spangler Distinguished Professor of Early Literacy

Kelly Cartwright recently joined the Cato College of Education as the University’s first Spangler Distinguished Professor of Early Child Literacy.

Cartwright previously served as professor of psychology, neuroscience and teacher preparation at Christopher Newport University in Virginia where she directed the Reading, Executive Function and Development Lab while contributing to the Center for Education Research and Policy.

“Reading is often framed as a simple process, a view that is compounded by the fact that reading often feels simple for many educators who got into the profession because they love reading and likely learned to read easily,” Cartwright explained. “Science shows that behind that simplicity, reading is tremendously complex and requires the brain to orchestrate many, many processes simultaneously. Those processes may occur below the level of conscious awareness in skilled readers, but they must be taught explicitly for learners and individuals who experience challenges in learning to read.”

Cartwright’s groundbreaking book, “Executive Skills and Reading Comprehension: A Guide for Educators,” is recognized as a pivotal contribution to the field. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Literacy Research Association and as a visiting research fellow at the University of Oxford. Cartwright also brings experience building sustainable partnerships with K-12 teachers across the United States to enhance understanding and improve reading outcomes for struggling students.

Malcolm Butler, dean of the Cato College of Education, stated, “Dr. Cartwright is a trailblazer in the field of early literacy, and her impact has been profound. Her extensive experience in neuroscience, teacher preparation and literacy research aligns seamlessly with our mission to foster excellence in education.”

The C.D. Spangler Distinguished Professorship of Early Child Literacy was established at four North Carolina universities through an $8 million gift from the C.D. Spangler Foundation with the goal of supporting reading proficiency in North Carolina’s