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Alumna wins award for work in language study

  |   Kristen B. Morales   |   Permalink   |   Alumni,   Kudos

A doctoral graduate's work in teaching students to analyze different forms of text has landed her an award, a presentation at an upcoming conference and a journal article.

![](/assets/for-imgix/news/Amber Simmons-2-20151026162908.jpeg) Amber Simmons (PhD '12, English education) has been named the 2015 Founders'Emergent Scholar Award winner by the Language Studies Foundation, an international nonprofit that promotes learning and discovery in language studies. As part of the award, Simmons is invited to speak at the organization's 2017 conference in Honolulu, and her dissertation will be published in the journal Critical Inquiry in Language Studies.

She now teaches AP language and composition and 11th-grade American literature at Brookwood High School in Gwinnett County, and is also an adjunct professor at Brenau University. While a graduate student at the University of Georgia College of Education, Simmons studied the systemic functional linguistics (SFL) teaching method, and her dissertation examined how SFL can be used to help students analyze text.

Simmons taught her students to do a modality analysis using the Martin and Rose appraisal system, and gave them different types of text — current popular works like "Harry Potter," for example, as well as works by Shakespeare and political speeches.

The result, Simmons said, fostered critical literacy among different genres, and gave the students a deeper understanding of the text.

"My particular work deals with SFL and how it can be used in English-language arts classrooms to promote critical inquiry, as well as develop reading and writing skills," she said.

The Emergent Scholar Award is given each year to promote critical language scholarship and the work of new scholars.

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