In a special weekly series, the College of Liberal Arts is featuring a faculty member from one of our 13 departments. We asked questions about why they are passionate about the subjects they study and teach, and how they found their path to CSU. See all “Faculty Friday” features here.
Assistant Professor, Department of English
1. What did you want to be when you were little?
I’ve always known I wanted to be a teacher. I thought I’d want to be an elementary school teacher or math teacher when I was a high school student. I fell in love with English and literature when I was a college student. After I’d been teaching for several years, I realized that I enjoyed teacher action research and engaging with others at conferences. My advisor Wendy Glenn invited me to dinner one night and told me that she thought I’d be a good fit for academia. While I will always miss teaching high school, I feel like my position that allows me to teach at the college level and research teaching methods is my calling.
2. Why do you research/teach/study Critical Whiteness Studies and multicultural young adult literature?
When I was teaching high school, I became very interested in the instruction of multicultural young adult literature. These texts are engaging, they are literary, and they are powerful. I wondered why it wasn’t taught more frequently. I spoke with colleagues who worked at other high schools and learned some of the reasons that teachers are hesitant to use multicultural young adult literature in their classrooms. They told me that they found these texts to be particularly challenging for various reasons (censorship, controversy, cultural content, etc.).
This led me to explore Critical Whiteness Studies as a theoretical lens to think about this literature and teachers’ experiences. I love to think about and discuss reading and writing pedagogies and teaching methods. I don’t see my research and teaching as a job. They are a part of my personal and professional life, and they make me feel very fulfilled.
3. Which class is your favorite to teach and why?
I am very lucky in that I enjoy all of the classes that I teach. At the moment, I am teaching EDUC 463 – Methods of Teaching Language Arts. My students are smart and thoughtful, and I love talking about the teaching of language arts with them. I am also teaching E 405 – Adolescents’ Literature. The students in that course range in their majors: English literature, English education, creative writing, political science, anthropology, social work, and more! I see that course as a book flood–the reading is intense and rewarding. I love talking about adolescence with the students, and I appreciate the diverse perspectives that the students bring to the course.
4. How did you get to CSU?
When I read the job posting, I quickly realized that it was a great match with my interests and passions. I applied and met the faculty here, and I was sold. Everyone was warm and genuine, and the position seemed like a perfect fit for me. I love it here!
5. What is one thing students would be surprised to learn about you?
Some of my newer students are surprised by how much I read. I always aim to read 200-300 books a year to keep up on trends in the field and to find new books to use in my classes. I really, really like to read.