What do you enjoy the most about your work?
I love interacting with students when they are forming their own opinions on different issues. It is so exciting to see students working through a difficult question or complex issue and develop their own unique and informed take.
Who/what had the greatest influence on your career path?
My experience as a teaching assistant in graduate school at the University of Michigan. I had always envisioned myself more as a researcher who investigated a topic and then wrote about it. When I actually started teaching during my second year of graduate school, though, a lightbulb went off in my head, and I found that working in the classroom was where I really felt most energized and excited. That experience led me to take more opportunities to teach and refine my teaching, which eventually led me to moving away from working at the college level (where the stress was on research) to high school.
What is your best piece of advice?
Be flexible! It is useful to have a plan for what you want to do, but also be open to amending those expectations and those ideas as you go along. Most of the things I regret in my life are where I got locked into a certain way of thinking or continued doing something for the sake of doing it.
Tell us about your research interests and/or recent professional development.
I am deeply interested in politics and government, especially as they change and develop over time. My dissertation, for example, was on how religious movements led to political transformations in the United States. My most recent professional development has been on how to incorporate project-based learning into more advanced classes, such as AP US Government & Politics, so that students can apply in practice concepts we discuss in the course.
The Fun Stuff:
Favorite Food: Chicago-style deep dish pizza
Favorite Song: "Transatlanticism" by Death Cab for Cutie
Hidden Talents or Skills: I don't have many talents, but I do love collecting and reading comic books. I have been reading them since elementary school and have never stopped.