Originally from rural Kansas, I received my Bachelor's degree in English with minors in Religion and Studio Art at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI. Soon after, I moved to Chicago where I began to pursue my Master's degree in English.
In my courses at Loyola University Chicago, I have undergone extensive preparation in teaching. In a graduate seminar completely devoted to teaching writing, I developed my own syllabi, assignments, and teaching philosophy under the direction of James Biester, the former director of Loyola’s writing program. I also studied pedagogy more generally, developing my own signature approach to teaching tragedy based on the theories of Paulo Freire and Søren Kierkegaard.
Another important aspect of my development has been the use of technology in teaching the humanities. Working with Loyola’s Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities, one of my classes created its own knowledge site that hosts electronic resources for studying Victorian Literature. I also gained skills in electronic editing, digital presentations, and several platforms for creating blogs and websites.
In order for students to succeed, I believe that they need to be put in the driver’s seat of their own educational experiences. The best way I have found to do this is to show students that I plan to work alongside them. My students learn from our first interaction onward that I am committed to them, but that change is in their hands. I cannot make them learn, and I cannot make them succeed, but if they are willing to give me their time and attention they will go far. My relationship with my students is what the renowned Chicago-based psychologist Carl Rogers called a "helping relationship." I don't try to be a task-master or a performer. Instead, I try to foster a dynamic in which my students and I are part of the same team, even if I assume the role of the coach. I come alongside, I encourage, and I guide, and my success is bound up in the success of the student. Neither of us can win alone.
back to top