Elementary and Up
I stumbled into teaching soon after graduating college (for the first time) and have not looked back since. Since 2011, I have taught or supervised every age group from kindergarten to undergraduates. This includes teaching my own courses in theatre at the middle-school, high school, and undergraduate level; designing, implementing, and supervising arts education programs for elementary students; and teaching workshops and extra-curricular activities for K-12 students. Since moving to the D.C. area, I have served as a TA and co-designer for a hybrid Introduction to Theatre course and as a teaching artist with Young Playwrights’ Theater. Much of my administrative experience comes via the East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood Grant (see below).
While I still have plenty to learn as an educator, I do have a working education philosophy built on five pillars:
- Quality Material: A subject should be taught holistically, with regard paid to its every constitutive part. It should be analyzed with the best available tools and scholarship at our disposal. Evidence of cultural and scholarly diversity should be visibly apparent.
- Clarity of Expectations: A well-structured, transparently administered course provides security to all parties involved. Students should be under no illusions as to what I expect of them in terms of work and conduct, nor should they have reason to doubt my preparedness or my commitment.
- Diversity of Vantage Points: It is incumbent upon me to make a welcoming and inclusive space in which students feel comfortable being who they are and developing their views. While statements to this effect will be made in the syllabus and in class, fostering a truly inclusive and productive environment is an ongoing process that requires empathy and active engagement. Diversity should also be reflected in the course material, taking into account identities, cultures, practices, and ideas from as broad a spectrum as possible.
- Capacity for Critical and Creative Engagement: My ideal class nurtures students capable of insightful analysis, rigorous inquiry, and creative problem-solving. Lectures, assignments, and discussions should therefore aim to encourage free and open exploration of ideas, original thinking, and a spirit of humble yet rigorous inquiry.
- Sensitivity to Student Needs: Students bring more to the table than their academic concerns, and it is important for me to be attentive to their learning styles, backgrounds, and lived experiences. As a teacher, I must always advocate for a student’s wellbeing, academic or otherwise, and be available to aid them as I am able.
This philosophy is drawn not only from my experience in the classroom but also from the many great teachers and professors who have graced my life. It’s a lot to live up to, but I’m working on it.
East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood Grant
In 2013, the U.S. Department of Education awarded Texas Tech University with the East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood (ELPN) Grant, a $24.5 million investment in “cradle-to-college-to-career” services for one of the most notoriously underprivileged communities in the state of Texas. TTU’s J.T. and Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts (TCVPA) helped write the grant and has used its small portion of the funds to establish free, high-quality, multi-disciplinary arts programs for the students of East Lubbock. These include daily after-school programs at Alderson and Ervin Elementary schools; the East Side Arts Camp, which brings students from four elementary schools into the very heart of the Lubbock arts scene; a variety of fieldtrips and special events for students of all ages; and material and programmatic support for in-school classes. Data from these programs support national findings that indicate improved academic and behavioral performance in students with high artistic involvement. More importantly, these programs provide young people with opportunities that would be otherwise unavailable. Even though the Grant has transitioned out and new funds and commitments have come in, the mission is the same: to provide these students with opportunities to explore the many diverse wonders of the arts, while simultaneously empowering them to create art that speaks to who they are.