SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – A Cherokee Nation citizen who spent 22 years at the University of California-Santa Cruz will be inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame for her lifetime contributions to literacy.

Dr. Judith A. Scott, a professor emerita who retired in 2021 from the Education Department at UCSC, will join four other new Hall members on Dec. 1 during the Literacy Research Association Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

“I think it’s just a tremendous honor,” she said. “I’m very excited to join the literacy luminaries that are already in the Hall of Fame.”

Established in 1973, the Reading Hall of Fame is comprised of 274 members, both living and deceased, who spent at least 25 years in the literacy world and whose “reputation is to be widely known and respected” by others in the profession. Literacy contributions fall into the categories of authorship of publications or research; performance in positions of responsibility in the field; and preparation of leaders in the field through teaching.

Over her 32-year education career, Scott, 67, developed innovative approaches to vocabulary learning and assessment, worked closely with classroom teachers to help students become aware of the power of language, and promoted the integrated use of multicultural children’s literature and writing.

“Being elected to the Reading Hall of Fame is one of the greatest honors that might be bestowed upon an individual serving the literacy profession,” the letter announcing Scott’s induction states.

Scott says she will be the first Indigenous scholar inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame.

“Education is such a huge part of the Cherokee heritage and such a huge part of my life,” she said. “I’ve been interested in education since I was in third grade when I wanted to be a teacher. But I never dreamed I’d be a professor.”

Scott has helped lead the Critical Missions Project at UC Santa Cruz, a collaboration with three other University of California campuses and several Native American tribes whose goal is to tell a fuller story of the Spanish mission era. As one contribution, in conjunction with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, Scott authored and published an imagined fable as a children’s picture book, “When the Mission Bells Rang,” which has been featured by the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park and the Santa Cruz Library.

“I think that I’ve been very lucky in my life to be able to pursue all kinds of interesting projects,” Scott said. “I want to tell people to stay in school and to value education and reading in particular.”

In April, Scott was awarded the Notable Vocabulary Researcher Award from the American Educational Research Association. The award recognizes scholars whose research in vocabulary, literacy and learning has had a significant impact on the field. In 2006, Scott received recognition for her work with teachers from the International Reading/Literacy Association.

Scott remains active as the principal investigator of the Central California Writing Project and continues in a leadership role with the Critical Missions Project, helping amplify Indigenous voices in K-12 classrooms. She is also a member of the UCSC Indigenous Faculty Networking group.