how I taught and how our classroom community was co-constructed with my student readers. It was a wonderful experience, but after seven years of teaching 6th grade, I found myself wanting to further my education.
I was born and raised in Idaho. My childhood was marked with a lot of reading, conversations
about books, and constant visits to the library. This literary steeping led me to easily self-identify as a reader, which I realize is not the same for all children. My path as a reader was also formed by the wonderful teachers of the Boise School District. Guided by their tutelage and modeling I was inspired to become a teacher myself. Immediately upon starting at University of Idaho I
Though my educational program was strong, I was not fully prepared for many of the challenges of my first job and did not know how to support my students with the struggles they faced on a daily basis. I had to find ways to connect with and create shared experiences for my new learning family. The ability to share my love of reading with students became the connective tissue of our classroom. By becoming an expert on the best books that I knew my kids would love and reading what my students read, I supported and further developed our reading community. From that first year onward my teacher identity became interwoven with my reader identity, and that transformed
It was then that I considered graduate work in English as a Second Language (ESL). I was inspired by the SIOP training I received and the experiences I had while working with the students in my class whose first language was not English. Focusing on students who had different linguistic backgroundss provided me an opportunity to explore literacy from a different perspective. That
awareness led me to my graduate studies in ESL at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. After graduating I returned to my elementary school teaching roots for the next seven years, teaching in both specialist (ESL, Resource Teacher for the Gifted) and general education (4th grade) classrooms. While teaching 4th grade I
discovered the work of Donalyn Miller and started to more fully hone my craft as a Book Whisperer.
Through this process I came to value reader's choice and learned better ways to engage my dormant readers and fold them more deeply into our larger reading community.
While teaching for the district I was approached to become an
adjunct professor at my alma mater. I taught an elementary education reading course with a focus on grades 3-5 for three semesters as well as a special education K-12 reading course for a semester. I found that I loved working with pre-service teachers and began to develop an identity as a teacher educator. Through my work as a professor I began to ponder the possibility of continuing my career in that capacity. While it was very
difficult for me to consider leaving my classroom and my wonderful students, I made the hard decision to follow my dreams and started my PhD program at University of Minnesota in 2014.
In addition to children's and adolescent literature, my research interests are
post-intentional phenomenological awareness of reader identity, the lived experience of reader practices of seeing (or not seeing) themselves in the books they read, and the lived experience of social class.
declared my elementary education major and never looked back. Upon graduating I was thrilled to be hired as a sixth grade teacher in the same district I grew up in. My new elementary school was different than the one I attended; it was in a declining area of the city and the majority of the students were economically disadvantaged.