Department Chair, English Teacher
BS, Philosophy and English, University of Utah
MA, Creative Writing, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
PhD, English, University of Denver
I found direction through education, purpose in words, and fulfillment through teaching. I have followed this passion from Salt Lake City, Utah to Amherst, Massachusetts, and finally to Denver, Colorado. Growing up I was singularly driven to be a lawyer, but while studying for the LSATs my English professor encouraged my creative talents. His belief in me began a belief in myself, and gave me the push I needed to take the terrifying jump into writing. My adventure in learning has broadened by understanding of the world and my place in it. I have found that the study and creation of literature is a vibrant immersion in the human condition.
I can be defined by many labels, but none are sufficient to embody me singularly. I am a teacher, writer, wife, academic, traveler, friend, and Netflix binge watcher. I believe in the importance of complex interests and identities. When we box ourselves in too tightly we forget who we are. I ado my best to support others on their quest to find their varied selves too, and nowhere is better suited for this than the classroom.
Similarly, I am a contradiction. My 9th grade English teacher, who had been teaching for decades, told me that I was the worst speller he had ever met. Worst speller, but also most improved. This title is something that I wear as a badge of honor for two reasons: It is one thing to identify areas of improvement and work to develop them, and another thing to not let our difficulties undermine our goals.
I live a life of words, but am not always able to spell them all flawlessly. I acknowledge the errors I make and do my best to not make them again. This is not an error-proof system, but one that encourages me to not let my faults define me.
Why I Teach
I am a learning fanatic! I have been in school continuously since preschool, and while I love to learn, I have found that I am even more enthralled with teaching. I get uncomfortably excited about literature. I will jump with enthusiasm for an old favorite, throw a book across the room when I get frustrated, reread and underline passages until the pages fall apart. I believe that interacting with the English language actively, be it positive or negative, makes the material come alive. Passivity is the death of learning; poking and prodding keeps it alive. I teach because I learn from my students. I teach because we need one another to push our discussions further. I teach because I cannot imagine myself ever doing anything else.
My teaching philosophy is founded in leading a class with a passionate and patient approach to learning, one that is supportive, challenging, and energetic, to encourage students to find their strengths in effective written communication. My enthusiasm for language and teaching has translated into participation centered classes that encourage failure as a form of advanced critical thinking – that we are never able to feel comfortable investigating new ideas unless we are comfortable with the possibility that they may be off point. When we find that our approaches are not as sharp as we would like, we are then able to critically analyze what it was that did not succeed, and why. I emphatically take to heart Samuel Beckett’s advice, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Fail harder. Fail better.” Failure breeds risk taking, which encourages deeper creative and academic work, because students learn how to avoid taking the easy route.