What is your current job title and responsibilities (please make sure we know your College, Department, etc.)?
I am currently an Associate Lecturer with the School of Teaching, Leadership and Learning. I coordinate the Early Childhood Development and Education Careers Track (Track III) as well as teach elementary and early childhood courses. My main focus is children’s literacy, integrated arts, creativity and content area learning.
What is your history at UCF and before UCF? (past job titles, responsibilities)
I began teaching at UCF in the fall of 1999 for the Early Childhood Program. I began teaching at the Orlando campus but have been a Regional Campus Faculty Member for most of my time at UCF. Prior to teaching at UCF, I was a “Teacher in Residence” at the Orlando Science Center and a classroom teacher in Orange County Public Schools.
What is your academic background?
I earned my bachelor’s degree in Communications from UCF. I earned my master’s degree at UCF in Elementary Education with a focus in Mathematics and Science through the Lockheed Martin Academy of Mathematics and Science. I earned my doctorate degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in literacy and early childhood from UCF. Go Knights!
What is your favorite UCF memory?
My favorite memory at UCF happened when I was an undergraduate student at UCF. I was looking for a roommate and I was sent to meet someone in Brevard Hall. It turned out that the girl looking for a roommate was a paraplegic. I moved in and became great friends with Denise. If I had known that Denise was a paraplegic, I may not have gone to visit her and I would have missed out on a great friendship and a better awareness of others.
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be? ($ and time no object)
I want to be the best teacher possible. In order for me to be great at teaching, I need to focus my efforts on a handful of courses instead of teaching many courses each year. I don’t know if this is a widespread issue at UCF, but I can’t be a great teacher when I am teaching 8 or more different courses each year. It is difficult to focus my efforts, become an expert, or include research related activities when I am teaching many different courses each term.
As a person who has been a faculty member in Orlando and at the Regional campuses, I feel that the intermingling of teaching duties would allow regional faculty members the benefits of focusing their efforts on certain courses instead of teaching different courses each semester. This would also allow regional campus students to experience a variety of teaching practices and styles through different instructors.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
My best advice to my colleagues is to find ways to maintain a balance between work and home life.
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
I would love to have an outdoor yoga space named after me. I would also love to share yoga on a regular basis for faculty, staff and interested students.
If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
I would have lunch with Dean Carroll, I am eager to learn more about her vision for the College of Education and Human Performance.
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
Dr. Michael Hynes was instrumental in my master’s degree program, but even more importantly, he worked with me when I was at a crossroad with my doctorate degree. He helped me outline my program of study and helped me realize I could complete it in a reasonable time frame. Dr. Hynes is also my chair in the School of Teaching, Leadership and Learning. In this position, I feel that he is supportive of me personally and professionally. I have a lot of wonderful colleagues that also support me and have helped me to be successful! Thank you!
Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
Mrs. Forthover was my 5th grade teacher. She really challenged me and pushed me beyond my own comfort zone. She was a great teacher and I still appreciate her eagerness to support my learning.
What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
Dr. Judith Johnson was a former professor in my master’s degree at UCF. She really challenged my way of thinking and learning. I feel that she has impacted my own teaching and practice strongly through the use of inquiry and that I am a much better teacher from my interactions with her.
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
Irish Soda Bread baked by my mother!
What is your favorite movie, book or music?
I have many favorite books. I am addicted to books! One book that I love to share with children is, Where the Wild Things Are!
What is your favorite vacation destination?
My favorite vacation destination is Ireland. Both of my parents were born and raised in Ireland. I feel a connection to my parents and my past when I visit Ireland.