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College of Education The California Reading & Literature Project

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A Tribute to Dr. John Shefelbine

May 1, 1944 - May 26, 2016

John Shefelbine was born in Silver City, New Mexico and at a young age moved with his family to a remote desert site in Chihuahua, Mexico where he spent his boyhood. John received a BA (Stanford), a Master's (Harvard), and PhD/EdS (Stanford). During his early career in education John served in communities of the Nez Perce (Idaho), an Athabascan village (Alaska), Rough Rock Demonstration School (Navajo Nation), and Sante Fe, New Mexico. Upon receipt of his doctorate, John held professorships at University of Texas at Austin, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City, and California State University Sacramento, California. He found his professional home at Sacramento State where he taught for 25 years. John considered himself very fortunate to have found a vocation that he loved. Dyslexic himself, he struggled to learn to read as a child. Throughout his career he strove to provide educators with the skills and tools necessary to teach all children to read.

Leadership & Academics

John had many areas of leadership and academic work, including the California Reading Association and the California Reading and Literature Project (CRLP). John's work with CRLP spanned more than two decades. Beyond his role as Co-Director and Principal Investigator of the Sacramento regional site, his body of work served as a major influence in professional development programs created by CRLP, helping teachers and administrators from preschool through high school. He was the principal author or co-author of numerous CRLP signature professional development publications over the years, with a particular focus on assessment and instruction, serving the language and literacy needs of culturally and linguistically diverse student populations. His Literacy and Framework for Assessment and Instruction, included in several Reading Language Arts Frameworks for California Public Schools, became the theoretical basis for much of the content development of CRLP.

Life Beyond Academics

Beyond his scholarly contributions, John served as a dedicated and enthusiastic mentor to countless graduate students, teachers, and teacher leaders. He had a wicked sense of humor and a repertoire of personal stories, coupled with the highest of expectations, thus motivating and inspiring all those who had the good fortune of knowing him to excel in their practice. He leaves a powerful legacy that can be witnessed in classroom reading instruction across the state. He will be sorely missed.