Welcome to my professional portfolio. I am an Assistant Professor of English at the University of New Mexico Valencia branch campus. In addition, I am a writer with more than fifteen years of experience in design and photography and previously worked as a Research Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico College of Education. There I supported the College's goals of educational re-imagination both locally and nationally. I managed the branding and marketing for the Albuquerque Teacher Residency Partnership (ATRP), an intensive residency program for aspiring K-12 teachers, and developed content for the National Network for Educational Renewal (NNER). I also supported the implementation of an ongoing grant from the Kellogg Foundation, which funded the work of Transformational Action Groups (TAGs) in the Albuquerque Public Schools. Embedded TAG faculty members focused on community-specific diversity education for small cohorts of student teachers.
Prior to my time at UNM I worked for various publications, including New Mexico Magazine, as well as the Santa Fe Public Schools. I earned a BA in Humanities and Creative Writing from Prescott College in 2013 and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from UNM in 2017. During grad school, I taught composition and creative writing in the UNM main campus English Department. In 2017 I received two university-wide teaching awards: The Susan Deese-Roberts Teaching Assistant of the Year award and the College of Arts and Sciences Teaching Excellence award. Please scroll down or click above to learn more about me and my aspirations as a writer and educator.
I am a part of all that I have met; Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
I am what Kathleen Blake Yancey identifies, in Reflection in the Writing Classroom, as an “expressivist.” In short, I’m inclined to focus first on student interaction with his or her writing. To achieve this, I start each semester by emphasizing that every student, no matter their background, brings something valuable to the classroom. I work to establish a culture of learning, in which I both express and demonstrate that everyone can contribute something positive to the class dynamic.
I believe that learning happens best through a lens of self-understanding, and I want my students to trust me as their instructor and each other as colleagues, rather than simply classmates. I’m particular about this verbiage because I believe it both establishes a higher level of respect among my students as well as sets up a dynamic that naturally inspires collaboration. My intent is that they carry life skills with them from college to career, where it is standard practice to collaborate with colleagues.
To nurture both trust and self-understanding I assign writing tasks throughout the semester that encourage reflective expression. Alfred Lord Tennyson expresses this so beautifully in Ulysses: “I am a part of all that I have met; Yet all experience is an arch wherethro' / Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades / For ever and forever when I move.”
We are all parts of all that we have met, and as humans we’re always striving to be part of even more. Reflective assignments that ask students to look into their past for deeper personal meaning nurtures growth and engagement in part because students gain deeper understanding and feel that their experiences are valid. It lends confidence to young writers, many of whom feel silenced by self-doubt.
Reflection also supports the culture of learning that I work to build by emphasizing the importance of thinking as inseparable from writing. The in-class free write exercises I design are intended to get students comfortable with what I call the “messy process” of writing. “Allow yourself to put words on the page,” I tell them, “even if the only words you can think of, in the beginning, are ‘I don’t know what to write…I don’t know what to write.’” This helps them break the pattern of trying to think everything through before putting pen to page, or worse rejecting ideas outright without capturing them first. My goal for them in this is for them to be comfortable with a process that is, at all times, a combination of thinking and writing. The free writes are remarkably helpful with this. As one student wrote on a feedback form I made and distributed early in my first semester of teaching: “I enjoy being able to just let things flow.”
In addition to helping my students find freedom in the writing process, reading their reflections is an effective way for me as their instructor to identify new teaching opportunities, or design lessons that reinforce and expand on material already introduced.
Branching off from all of this messy initial process writing, of course, is the ever-important task of composing polished, clear writing that is tailored to a selected audience. Yancey addresses this as well, contrasting it in relation to the subjective approach of expressivism as “the ability of the writer to create text for a reader.” She goes on to explain that the subjectivity of expressive instructional focus is not actually distinct from that of audience-centered writing in that they both strive toward a common goal: “They resemble each other in their point of departure, a presumed ideal text, which determines the view of both process and product.”
I value both approaches, scaffolding from self to other; from the personal to the global. Writing is by nature a very personal endeavor but it is also a way that people connect with each other to share ideas and influence behavior. Writing as process engages with the messy, non-linear self; as product, with a selection of rules and guidelines that speak to the linear. Together, they make a whole but the beauty is in the idea that we can come to all of it from wherever we are in life. As a teacher I find it’s imperative to support my students’ diverse, non-linear learning processes, reflect evidence of their strengths back to them, and provide them a safe space from which to begin their structured engagement with the greater world.
I always wanted to be a teacher.
I started studying for my teaching credential at Santa Fe Community College in 2013 and began teaching at the collegiate level when I started my MFA at UNM the following fall. Now I have three years of college teaching experience and both formal and informal experience teaching English and media arts in both middle and high school. Since the day I began teaching media arts to 8th graders at Desert Academy in Santa Fe, I've both utilized and taught digital platforms, such as Adobe Creative Suite, Blackboard, Prezi, Wix, and Animoto. Multimodal strategies support quality instruction by offering students different avenues of expression, and supporting their understanding of current technologies that will help them both in the classroom and beyond. Examples and details are below.
English 220 student describes his intent for his research paper.
English 220 students engage in a rock-stacking activity ala artist Michael Grab. They discuss the connections between stacking rocks and writing--how both require patience, determination, and working with seemingly disparate pieces to make a balanced whole. The students and I took videos they then added to their blog portfolios.
Sometimes tech means low tech! My English 220 students made a rock poetry activity for the Celebration of Student Writing event at UNM.
This site was designed to teach high school freshmen and sophomores about Joseph Campbell's theory of the Monomyth, or Hero's Journey.
My English 220 students spent a class period with Pulitzer prize winning writer N. Scott Momaday. The class topic was environmental literature and issues, and Momaday discussed poetry and the natural world in a lively conversation. My students also met Professor Luci Tapahonso, Archaeologist Dr. John Ware, and Michael Stewartt, founder of Lighthawk, during the semester. Though distinguished visitors are not technology, per se, they made a deep impression on my students more than any video could.
English 120 student rhetorical analysis made on Weebly.
English 120 student rhetorical analysis made on Wix.com
Five minute free poems. Creative writing, poetry activity. Write for five minutes on each slide.
Photoshop class project at Warehouse 21 Teen Center, Santa Fe: Make a zombie!
I have always been a writer.
I had the impulse to tell stories well before I could write them down myself. I'd dictate tales to my mother, illustrate the words she wrote in perfect block letters across the page. When I was older, I'd staple pages of typing paper together myself, and write and illustrate my own little books. As an adult, writing is my baseline—when I am not writing regularly, I feel unsettled and anxious, flitting from room to room hoping to find a place to land. Below are selected clips from my writing career.
"Past the break lies motherhood as I understand it: the rawest life that lifts and falls and crashes against beauty, and the eternal potential for heartbreak." Published in The Rumpus. July 2016
"Tony Abeyta calls himself a creature of habit, but when he ticks off the list of what he’s done, where he’s been and what restaurants he frequents, it’s clear that he’s anything but." August 2010
"If you ask Jed Foutz, the owner of Shiprock Santa Fe, one of our city’s most prestigious Native American art galleries, about his apparent success, he’ll tell you that he never had a plan." Local Flavor Magazine
"Anyone who thinks that kids today are lazy hasn’t met Michael Oellig’s third grade students." Local Flavor Magazine
"Describing Rulan Tangen in a measured sequence of words across a page feels as impossible as trying to gather a river in one’s arms." July 2011
"Venture inside Ron Midgett’s greenhouse on Jaguar Road and you might feel like you’ve stumbled into another world." Local Flavor Magazine, 2013
"Erin Wade’s Nambé farm is home to a curious cast of characters." May 2011
"For Jamie Lenfestey, it was love at first sight for the girl next door." February 2011
"The small wooden sign on Rodeo Road belies the significance of what rests at the end of a long dirt driveway." Local Flavor Magazine
"Going Places" section article on vacationing in New Mexico cabins, August 2013 (Preview pic is the cover I shot, not the issue associated with the article.)
"I come from Daisy Street, which lies between Pleasure Way and the Street of Dreams." Santa Fe Literary Review, 2012. Page 162
Breeder: Real-Life Stories from the New Generation of Mothers. Seal Press Anthology edited by Ariel Gore and Bee Lavender, 2001