On my first day of teaching I asked my adolescent students to read from a book to begin our lesson. They all sat and stared at me. So I asked them again, a little more sternly this time, and they continued to sit at their desks in silence. I waited. When the silence became intolerable, one student finally raised his hand and said, "We don't read. Didn't they tell you that?" Out loud I said, "How did that happen?" as internally I faced a panicked thought: "What in the world do I do now?" My journey into teaching began that day and it has continued to fill and enrich my life ever since. What I had thought would be a one-year sprint in teaching special education turned into a career- long quest to answer the question of how those 8th through 12th grade students could be so far along in school and not be able to read. I immediately enrolled at Georgia State University for my master's degree in special education. As I gained new knowledge, applied new theories, and developed a stronger, more research-based pedagogy, my confidence increased alongside a passion for teaching and learning with my students, which led to more questions and the need to know more. Following my master's degree, I returned to GSU to pursue a PhD in Language and Literacy and endorsement in ESOL. During this academic journey, I realized that I could potentially impact many more students by teaching their teachers. After nine years teaching students in special education, I was hired at GSU to teach literacy courses in several teacher education programs. My particular focus was on developing community partnerships to help strengthen teachers' knowledge about all aspects of a child's learning, both within and outside of school. Along the way, I founded the Urban Literacy Clinic at GSU, which has been able to provide literacy enrichment for hundreds of students of all abilities within the downtown community and, simultaneously, offer an authentic, critical space for future literacy teachers and literacy leaders to develop and refine their knowledge and practice.
My decision to move to Colorado came from my desire to work in an innovative urban teacher preparation program that would allow me to integrate my interests in literacy, teacher preparation, and diverse learners, while learning new things at the same time. I also have an opportunity here to serve as a site professor at Cole Arts and Sciences Academy, a pioneering community school for the Cole neighborhood. Cole offers many opportunities for me to continue to grow in the area of school and community connections while integrating my learning into the preparation of teachers.
My Students at the University of Colorado Denver:
I am impressed with my students at CU Denver - their desire to learn, their maturity, and the wealth of experiences they have acquired from traveling and learning first hand about world cultures. I am also impressed that they have chosen CU Denver to combine an interest in urban spaces and urban education with their desire to have an impact on the lives of children. I strive to create learning opportunities through which my students can grapple thoughtfully with the power they have as teachers to positively affect the children in their classrooms, and in the process to transform their community and the world.
Courses I Teach in the Urban Teacher Education Program:
- Social Foundations and Cultural Diversity in Urban Education - UEDU 4010/5010
- Individualizing Instruction for Diverse Learners Across Learning Environments - SPED 4030
- Secondary Literacy Instruction & Assessment - IPTE 5025
- Teacher Education and Site Seminars - IPTE 4910/5910, 4911/5911, 4912/5912, 4913/5913, SPED 5910/591
My Research Interests:
- Adolescent literacy development
- Preparing literacy leaders in schools
- Collaborating with community partners in education
I struggle with learning to play the fiddle - it's a goal! I love to travel and read and I love to read about traveling! I also enjoy treks downtown and hiking in the mountains with my family, my friends, and my dogs. I'm anxiously awaiting visits by my very extended family and many opportunities to show off this wonderful city and state.
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