2018 Summer Scholars
We’re thrilled to introduce the 2018 Summer Scholars cohort for the NEH Remaking Monsters and Heroines Summer Institute for School Teachers. To view our Summer Scholars’ video introductions, select a geo-tag on the interactive map above and click the image when it opens. To zoom in and out on the map, use the “+/-” tool. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone on the University of Arkansas campus in June.
An English teacher at Thornton Academy in the seacoast town of Saco, ME. I grew up in Concord, NH and my love of reading started in the 2nd grade when I was introduced to Nancy Drew. When I realized I wasn’t going to be a girl detective with a cool car, I studied English at Lafayette College, literature at the Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College and am currently in a post-masters program at the University of Southern Maine. When not teaching, I love literature & film (I still love a good mystery) and time with family & friends.
The story of heading to college to become a chemical engineer and getting spit out the other end as an English teacher is a story I love to tell my students: life is unpredictable. Also unpredictable is that this Midwestern girl and her husband would move from Chicago to the Rockies “for a couple of years”. Twenty-five years later, our almost-grown boys are Colorado natives. I love my profession. What a joy it is to be a part of the lives of young people who will impact the future in what I suspect will be amazing ways.
I teach at Lee High School in Midland, TX which is in the desert of West Texas where the oil business is our main industry. In my 14th year of teaching, I currently teach AP Literature and Composition and dual credit English and serve as my campus English department chair. Our area is known for Friday Night Lights, where baby Jessica fell down the well, and the childhood home of former President George W. Bush. I love my job and look forward to meeting all of you!
I’m finishing my third year of teaching in rural Northeastern Florida. Currently, I teach 10th Grade AICE English General Paper and 11th Grade AICE Global Perspectives/Research. AICE is a program similar to AP or IB. Our students take AS and A level exams like students in the UK. I have a B.A. in Geography and Medieval Studies from the University of Florida, plus an M.Ed. in English Education. I live in Gainesville with my husband, Ian, and our two dogs, Luke and Leia. Outside the classroom, I enjoy hiking, biking and kayaking through swampy North Florida.
My name is Julia Butz and I live in Sacramento, California. I am 47 years old and I have been teaching for twenty-six years. I am currently teaching a self-contained sixth grade at an elementary school. I am married and have two daughters, one in college and one in the sixth grade. I enjoy walking my dog, traveling, swimming, and reading. I have been to many NEH Landmark classes, this is my first seminar. I am looking forward to coming to Arkansas meeting everyone this summer!
I live in Bryant, AR. Born and raised in California until my parents’ divorce, my mom decided to make Arkansas our new home. I attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. I have a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Secondary Education, an M.Ed. in Learning Systems Technology and by the time we get to the institute I will have obtained my Ph.D. in Reading. I have been an educator for almost 13 years with the Little Rock School District and my current position is as a Literacy Instructional Facilitator. I have 2 children who are 11 years apart so they definitely keep my on my toes.
I was unaware that one day I would choose teaching as a career. My grandmother taught school between the two World Wars. My mother taught elementary and middle school during the last decades of the 20th Century, and I started my teaching career 2 years after she retired. Ancestry won the day, and I have been enchanted and exhausted, bewildered and ecstatic, cautious and giggly, ever since. Working with high school students is a predictable paradox: gift and burden. A gift because people are remarkable, and high school students have such disparate talents and perspectives; a burden because of my concern for teaching missteps that might set students back in learning or in life. I have been very grateful in my career to date.
I’m from Orange Park, Florida. I teach at Orange Park Junior High School for grades 7 and 8 in the gifted curriculum. This is my second year in the classroom. I graduated from the University of Florida in 2016 with a major in English (focus on children’s literature) and a minor in art history. Outside of teaching in the classroom I play tennis and I’m also a certified cycle instructor. I’m in the pursuits of a Master’s in English at the University of North Florida with the hopes for a doctorate program.
Hi. I currently teach 2nd and 3rd grade at UCP of Central Florida, Osceola Campus. We are an inclusive Charter School in Kissimmee, FL. I am also team lead for our K and above classrooms. I have two Master’s Degrees and am dual certified Pre-K to 3rd Grade and ESE K-12. Differentiation is the name of the game in my classroom and Arts Integration and Technology are two of the tools that I use to reach the various needs of my students. I am looking forward to learning alongside each of the other Scholars!
Kathleen Esling is an associate librarian at Convent & Stuart Hall in San Francisco. In the library, she helps students learn how to find what they need in addition to exploring different genres and ways of reading. Outside the library, Kathleen performs other duties at the school including teaching a unit in the Middle Form health curriculum, leading a study skills class, and acting as an Extended Essay supervisor for the high school’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. Kathleen’s background as an English major and theatre minor drives her interest in storytelling and story sharing.
Hi All! I’m Jenna Faller, a 6th grade teacher at Millsboro Middle School in Millsboro, DE. I’m a New Jersey transplant to the Eastern Shore of Maryland where I live with my family and two pups. I love working out, especially running, lifting weights, and cycling. When I’m not teaching or working out, I enjoy traveling, reading, and spending time on the beach. I look forward to meeting all of you this summer!
My life is overfull: stressful, but joyful; enervating, but inspiring; challenging, but fulfilling. As a mother of two, Nate age 12 and Iyla age 8, and a full-time teacher, my days are busy. I am fortunate to live on the beautiful island of Martha’s Vineyard where I can take daily walks on the beach or in the woods with my black labrador, Remi, as way to decompress from the day and restore myself. My husband, Chip, a second grade teacher, keeps me buoyed and laughing. My attempts at pursuing a creative life through writing and theater breed humility and serve as a reminder of what it means to be a learner. Sometimes I wonder how much I can hold in my head and heart as I navigate the daily tumult of teaching and mothering and creating, but more often than not I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunities for growth it offers and the truths of which I am reminded everyday.
Hello! My name is Rachel Finkelstein and I’m excited to be in my third year of teaching. I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and later relocated to Chapel Hill, North Carolina (go Tar Heels!). After moving to Chapel Hill, I began my career as a high school English teacher at Woods Charter school where I currently teach tenth and twelfth grade (my seniors actually happen to be in the middle of reading Frankenstein). Prior to joining the faculty at Woods, I taught English and creative writing at the University of Montana. When I teach, I use inquiry-based learning techniques that encourage students to follow their curiosities, pose original questions, and apply their interests. Besides reading and writing, I enjoy Vietnamese food, podcasts, and space heaters during the winter months. What I’m most excited about this summer is to see my favorite novels and tales in a new light.
I’ve been teaching high school English for eighteen years, currently in a rural public school on the Maine coast. My family [husband John, children Acer (15) and Hazel (12)] live in a house we built ourselves on country acres. The work of teaching and consuming language (including attending theater, reading graphic novels, and writing personal memoir) balance out a life that is otherwise consumed with cutting wood for the winter woodstove, cross-country skiing, and vegetable gardening. Current anchor texts: The Odyssey, The Great Gatsby, Hamlet. I led students adapting The Odyssey into a one-act play; maybe Gatsby next?
Hello! My name is Mae Hill and I am thrilled to say that this is my seventh year teaching. I grew up in Goodrich, MI and was fortunate to have access to such incredibly inspiring teachers (including my mom, sister, and cousin). After graduating from the University of Michigan, I taught English and Reading courses at Baker College in Flint, MI. I learned so much about my adult-learners that I knew would serve students of all ages well. I currently teach 8th grade History and English within the Whitehall School District. I enjoy spending time with my family, road trips, fishing, swimming, reading, writing, and coaching soccer. I have always been interested in inquiry-based learning, and appreciate deeply that my participation in RMH will allow me the opportunity to explore humanities from a new angle in order to keep my teaching fresh and engaging for new generations of students.
I currently teach remedial English at a Title I high school outside of Dallas, Texas. Previously, I taught ELA at a magnet school for gifted middle schoolers outside of Washington, D.C. It is my belief that good teachers should teach students on both sides of the spectrum. I am a military brat and wife, and while attending high school in the UK, my parents occasionally allowed me to skip class to attend plays in London—awakening in me a love of the theater. In my free time, I enjoy going to estate sales and taking pictures of creepy clowns.
I am a librarian at Westwood High School in Austin, Texas. This is my third year at Westwood and my 8th as a librarian. Before becoming a librarian, I taught Spanish in Georgetown, Texas. I graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Spanish and a minor in Business then got my master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of North Texas. I always loved to read, but I had never read a fantasy novel until I read Harry Potter in college. Since then, I have been a fan and many of my favorites are fairy tale adaptations.
Hello, my name is Emily Lucas and I am a second year teacher in lovely Pinedale, Wyoming where I teach Language Arts to grades 6, 7 and 8. Pinedale is a community of around 2,000 at the base of the Continental Divide and has a history full of mountain men and cattle ranchers. I am absorbed with the outdoors, especially the variations of water, and languages. I appreciate homegrown food and book recommendations.
Molly Menickelly is an English teacher from Virginia, which, confusingly is a commonwealth, and not a state, due to its predilection for traditional colonial nomenclature. A native of the fair commonwealth, Molly returned to her high school to teach in the spring of 2016, precisely forty-three hours after she walked across a stage at William and Mary to receive her Master’s in Education. She enjoys the study of literature, as well as its intersections in the social and life sciences. Molly teaches high school sophomores–currently perusing Golding’s Lord of the Flies –and also teaches freshmen every other year.
Stephanie Myers has a Master of Arts in Education with an emphasis in children’s literature from the University of Findlay (OH). She also earned a B.S. in Education from the same institution. She teachers in the Pandora Gilboa Local Schools as an elementary intervention specialist working with kindergarten through fourth grade students. Stephanie is responsible for teaching math, language arts, and reading. Her passion is helping students push past preconceived notions about themselves and helping struggling students achieve more than they thought possible. She loves children’s literature and introducing her students to new books that will ignite their imaginations and inspire them in their daily lives. A future goal is for her to pursue a Ph.D. in children’s literature.
My name is Rachel Poor. I have taught 8th grade language arts for 12 years at my hometown school here in Waldron, Arkansas! I have a BA in English Education, an MEd in English Education, and a MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, all from Arkansas Tech University. I have presented at the Arkansas Readers Association conferences three years. And last year I achieved National Board Certification! YAY! I have been married for twelve years and have four dogs and four cats. I also have eleven nieces and nephews from two sisters, so my share the of the babies were covered. I hike, read, write, travel, and go to Renaissance festivals for fun.
My name is Gabrielle Popp, and I am from Detroit, Michigan. I am a special educator/ secondary English teacher at Beacon Day Treatment, a center based program for children with severe emotional and behavioral disorders.. This is my tenth-year teaching, and I have taught in many different places/ environments- at an elementary school in Ypsilanti, Michigan, a rural university in Oaxaca, Mexico, a detention center in Detroit, Michigan, and at a preschool in Hangzhou, China. I have a masters and an educational specialist degree in special education leadership. Aside from teaching, I love reading, quilting, listening to podcasts, traveling, and coaching basketball with Special Olympics. I look forward to meeting everyone and learning from you all this summer.
Hello! I love that I was born in a south Texas border town and raised in a bilingual and bicultural home. I have been a public school elementary teacher for about ten years now. I currently work as K-5 Reading and Math Intervention Teacher. I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English, with a minor in Psychology. During my first few years of teaching, I earned my Master’s Degree in Bicultural-Bilingual Education. I am highly interested in the study of foreign languages and linguistics, cultures, history, and literature. I have always enjoyed learning about children’s literature and constantly seek books I can use to teach my students about history, civics education, and character education. I was a UIL Oral Reading Coach for three years, and I loved it because I would see my students grow from shy and quiet readers to confident and enthusiastic readers. On my spare time, I love to travel, learn new things, listen to music, read, attend cultural festivals, theater shows & concerts, visit museums & historic landmarks, watch tv & movies, and spend time with my family and friends.
Christopher Rust is a high school choir director from Portland, OR. In his professional life he stays busy preparing for concerts, working on the school musical and teaching music composition. He has written and produced seven children’s musicals and has had his choral compositions performed by various high school and professional choirs around the nation. In his personal life he stays busy coaching/supporting his children’s sports teams, running and trying (usually unsuccessfully) to see all of the Oscar Best Picture nominees!
Peter Saunders was born in New York City, and grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania. He earned a BA in Speech & Theatre from St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY, and an MFA in Theatre from the University of Portland, in Portland, Oregon. Peter began his career teaching Acting at the Hotchkiss School, in Northwest Connecticut, and then spent 9 years as the Theater Director at St. Albans School and the National Cathedral School in Washington, DC. From there, he moved to Minneapolis, where he taught Theater and English, coached Mock Trial, and served as the Director of Academic Technology at Breck School. Two years ago, Peter and his family moved to Memphis, Tennessee where he teaches American Literature to Sophomores at Hutchison School.Peter, and his wife Christine, have two daughters, who also attend Hutchison School: Aurie, who is 5, and Evelyn, who is 8.
Cheryl Smith currently teaches Spanish and is the high school gifted/talented teacher at Saydel High School in Des Moines IA where she lives with her husband and three children. Cheryl also coaches middle and high school Mock Trial and is a National Honor Society co-adviser. Next year she will serve as her district’s K-12 Gifted and Talented Coordinator. When not at work, Cheryl is an avid reader, gardener, and walker. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @SraCSmith.
Lisa is a San Diego native. She earned her BA in Latin American and Latino Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Her Spanish Credential and MS in Education are from California State University Long Beach. She is an active curriculum developer and new teacher mentor for her district. Her curriculum passion is Mesoamerica, and she has traveled extensively in Oaxaca and Chiapas, with her favorite historian, Elise Weisenbach. She is interested in adapting Spanish classics such as Marianela, Quijote, and Los amantes de Teruel. Former students have used their spanish while hiking the Camino de Santiago, joining the Peace Corps, and teaching in Spain. Her interests include gardening, kayaking, and floating in the pool.
Hi! My name is Tracy Tensen, and I am a high school English teacher in Gilbert, Iowa, a smallish suburban community not far from my home in Des Moines. I have been teaching for 24 years—mostly at the high school level. My master’s degree is in literature, and next year I am acquiring our school’s AP Lit class. I love teaching composition as well, and responding to essays is how I spend a few too many of my evenings and weekends during the school year. I have presented at NCTE, have done some publishing in the English Journal, and play around with writing poetry. I have 2 fun kids (Max and Zoey), 2 noisy cats (Ragnar and Raven), and an artistic husband (Guy). My favorite activities are gardening, knitting, reading, attending plays, and writing. My party trick is reciting “The Jabberwocky” or “Annabel Lee” on demand.
Greetings from a Texan in Atlanta, Georgia! I am completing my 19th year in education and currently a media specialist at Hope-Hill Elementary School. My husband, spoiled dog, and I live a few miles from Downtown Atlanta in a historic home that is always in need of repair. Some of my favorite activities include cycling, hiking, knitting, gardening, and cooking. My reading taste span from There’s Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom to Hillbilly Elegy to A Gentleman in Moscow. I look forward to meeting everyone in Arkansas.
Hi! My name is Marc. I’ve been teaching English and Drama for the past twenty two years in the UK and the US. I’m originally from Sussex, England, but I currently live in Detroit, Michigan with my husband and our two beagles. I teach World Literature to freshmen and seniors and run the drama program at the International Academy, a public high school that delivers the International Baccalaureate program. I love reading fiction and watching film and theatre. I also enjoy cooking and global travel. I look forward to working with you all!
I am Elise Weisenbach and I teach Spanish and University of Connecticut Early College Experience Latin American Studies at Branford High School in Branford, CT. I received a BA and MA in Latin American Studies from Tulane University with concentrations in anthropology and history and a MAT from Quinnipiac University. I have enjoyed volunteering for many years at the Yale University Peabody Museum of Natural History and, from 2012-2014, I was the teacher advisor for the Peabody Museum’s Indigenous Peoples of the Americas Summer Institutes for Teachers. I am looking forward to participating in the Monsters and Heroines summer institute and working with the other summer scholars.
My name is Katie Wilson, and I teach at a small public high school in Howe, Texas, which is about an hour north of Dallas. I have a B.A. in English from Abilene Christian University and an M.A. in English from the University of Dayton. I’ve been at Howe High School for my entire teaching career of five years, and I absolutely love the small school atmosphere: getting to know all my kids, getting to see them succeed in things other than academics, and getting to see them and how they grow between their freshman year and their senior year. I teach Dual Credit English 1301, English IV: British Literature, Journalism, a peer leadership course, and Theater, and I love every minute of this hectic schedule!