Where did you grow up?
I was born in Framingham, Massachusetts, which is about150 miles outside of Boston. I lived there until I graduated from high school.
What led to you a career in social science education?
I have always been interested in civics; even early on during middle and high school, I enjoyed organizing events and engaging with the community. This interest in civics came from interactions with my friends rather than a social studies or politics class per se, and led me to pursue dual bachelor’s degrees in history and secondary education from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. After a few years of teaching in the north Florida area, I earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of North Florida. I became an administrator at a large charter high school which offered a Career and Technical Education track. Many of the teachers for courses such as carpentry were experts in their fields but lacked teaching experience, so my role
included mentoring them. I found that I really enjoyed that aspect of being an administrator—as opposed to the paperwork-based tasks. I decided to apply to Florida State University to earn my PhD in middle and secondary social science education so that I could focus my career on mentoring teachers.
What are some of the sources of influence on your teaching?
My approach to teaching has been influenced by those who view history through the lens of both heroic and challenging events, such as Howard Zinn and Bill Bigelow. They discuss historical
events using common human experiences rather than just the traditional narratives.
What is your favorite aspect about being a UT faculty member?
One of my favorite aspects is that I can be out in local schools working with our secondary social science interns. I have really enjoyed getting a sense of the educational landscape here in East Tennessee. Whether I’m visiting schools like the L&N STEM Academy in downtown Knoxville or a more rural school like William Blount High School, I am so inspired by the smart and insightful students. It’s exciting to hear how they view the world.