Dr. Gary Phillips, a nationally known expert on education and a West Virginia State University (WVSU) alumnus, will discuss the \u201cThe Past and Future of Reading in America: The Big Picture\u201d during his keynote speech at the 58th annual West Virginia Reading Association (WVRA) conference, Nov. 21-22.\r\nPhillips will deliver his keynote speech during the general session of the conference held at The Greenbrier Resort, Friday, Nov. 22. In addition to the keynote from Phillips, Friday\u2019s general session will also feature a medley of West Virginia songs performed by the WVSU Concert Choir and Jazz Ensemble. West Virginia First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin will also speak Friday at the conference.\r\n\u201cDr. Phillips has a unique background that has forged in him a strong connection and love of West Virginia,\u201d said Dr. Robert Harrison, dean of the College of Professional Studies at WVSU and coordinator of this year\u2019s WVRA conference. \u201cHe was raised in a two-room log cabin one mile from the paved road, accessible by a cow path, in a hollow in Sissonville. His relatives in the cabin were illiterate and he lived with no electricity or running water. In the third grade he moved to a federal housing project where he lived until he graduated high school.\u201d\r\nAfter high school, Phillips went on to graduate from WVSU and the WV College of Graduate Studies, in addition to obtaining his doctorate degree from the University of Kentucky. He is currently a Vice President and Institute Fellow at the American Institutes for Research in the Behavioral Sciences in Washington, DC. Prior to his current position, Phillips served as the Acting Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics within the U.S. Department of Education.\r\n\u201cThrough the years Dr. Phillips has stayed connected to West Virginia,\u201d Harrison added. \u201cHe is currently on a technical advisory committee for the State Department of Education and has made several presentations to the state Board of Education.\u201d\r\nThis year\u2019s West Virginia Reading Association conference theme is \u201cCelebrating 150 years of reading instruction in West Virginia,\u201d and it is an official state sesquicentennial event.\r\nOver the two-day span of the conference, there will be more than 35 workshops that will explore the state\u2019s rich literary heritage. The conference is open to all educators, civic organizations, parent groups and community leaders.\r\nPre-registration for the conference is closed, but those interested in attending can register in person at the conference for $160.\r\nFor more information about the conference, visit www.wvreading.com, or contact Dr. Robert Harrison at 304-766-3313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.