Dr. Tony Donk

Retired Faculty
Profile photo of Dr. Tony Donk

Tony Donk teaches Hope College education majors how to help young children learn to read and develop their literacy skills. His courses include Literacy 1 (which focuses on teaching reading and language arts to children from birth to grade 3) and a senior seminar, “Teachers and Teaching: In Whose Image?”

He co-leads a May Term course that takes students to the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota to work with teachers and social workers in classrooms on the reservation. He was involved for more than 20 years with another of the Department of Education’s summer travel-study courses, the Liverpool Program in England, which he founded in 1998 and co-led through 2019. He also is the faculty leader of Hope’s Ski and Snowboarding Club, and with his colleague Dr. Susan Brondyk advises Hope’s student chapter of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (which in 1995 became the first student-led chapter in the country to be recognized by the professional organization).

With several West Michigan teachers who studied with him as Hope students, he is engaged in a digital literacy research project exploring the use of iPads in a kindergarten classroom for writing composition.

Before joining the Hope College faculty in 1996, Dr. Donk taught for 17 years in the public school district just north of Holland, at the elementary and middle school levels.

Areas of Expertise

  • Literacy development
  • Pedagogy
  • Digital literacy and the young child
  • Teacher cognition


  • Ph.D., curriculum, teaching and educational policy, Michigan State University, 1996
  • MSW, Western Michigan University, 1983
  • B.A., English, elementary education, Western Michigan University, 1977

Selected Honors, Grants and Awards

  • Great Lakes Conference Association Mellon Globalization Fellow, 2016–present
  • “Rock, Scissors, Paper, iPads: A Qualitative Study of the Choices Kindergarten Children Make When Composing Texts,” Hope College Frost Center Student-Faculty Research Grant, 2015
  • “An Examination of Teacher Candidates' Beliefs, Assumptions and Attitudes on the Use of Digital Technologies for Writing in Elementary Classroom Settings,” Hope College Frost Center Student-Faculty Research Grant, 2014
  • Great Lakes College Association Global Alliance fellowship, 2014
  • Great Lakes College Association New Directions grant, 2013

Selected Publications and Presentations

  • “Rock, Paper, Scissors & iPads: Helping Kindergartners Write and Publish Using Digital Tools,” presentation at International Literacy Association conference, 2018
  • “Digital Literacy as a Platform for Student Agency and Helping Children Write and Publish,” presentation at National Council of Teachers of English annual conference, 2017
  • “Thinking Outside the App,” presentation at Michigan Association for Computer Users and Learners conference, 2015
  • “Teacher Collaboration: Opening and Closing the Classroom Door,” in Standing for Powerful Literacy: Teaching in the Context of Change, Hampton Press, 2011
  • Models of Teaching: Connecting Student Learning with Standards (with J. Dell’Olio), Sage Publishers, 2007

Outside the College

Tony and his wife, Theresa Reagan, have two grown children — one daughter and one son. They reside in Holland and enjoy living near the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Tony is a self-described fanatical reader. He also enjoys travel and distance biking.

Profile photo of Dr. Tony Donk
Dr. Tony Donk

Phone Number616.395.7556

Anderson Werkman Financial Center Suite 260 100 East 8th Street Holland, MI 49423
Retired Faculty
A map showing the location for Dr. Tony Donk Anderson Werkman Financial Center Suite 260 100 East 8th Street Holland MI 49423