Who am I?
The Short Version
A writing tutor, avid reader, canine enthusiast, tech aficionado, and new mom, I live in Washington, DC, with my husband, my daughter, and my dog. I blog about books, writing, and whatever feels important. In addition to writing this blog, I am a writing and academic support specialist. Check out my business website -- The Writing Room.
The Long Version
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, I attended Wake Forest University from 2004 to 2008, graduating with a major in English and minors in secondary education and religion. In the spring of 2007, I studied abroad in Christchurch, New Zealand. In the spring of 2008, I wrote an honors thesis on Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things. I also student-taught 9th grade English at Mt. Tabor High School and earned a North Carolina teaching license.
After graduation, I taught literature and history to middle school students at the summer academy organized by the Higher Achievement Program, a DC-based organization that provides motivated middle-school students with academic and social support.
From the fall of 2008 to the summer of 2009, I served as an AmeriCorps volunteer, working as an adult education instructor at the Academy of Hope in Washington, DC. While there, I created curricula for a foundational math class and an essay-writing class. I also designed a poetry elective class. In July 2009, I led professional development workshops at the Adult Literacy Resource Center Summer Institute to adult educators about my methods of teaching poetry and essay writing to adult learners.
Also in the summer of 2009, I completed the Mayor's Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska, with the Leukemia & Lymphom's Team-In-Training Program. This was an enormous challenge and test of self-discipline, and I found it extremely rewarding. I have no plans to run another marathon -- this one caused too much hip damage -- but it was well worth the time and effort.
I then enrolled at Georgetown University, where I began graduate studies in English and American literature. In my second year, I prepared material for my oral examination with the assistance of my two advisors, Henry Schwarz and Angelyn Mitchell, and passed the exam with distinction. My paper, "Fragments, Traces, Echoes," about authorship and authority in the work of Edwidge Danticat, was published in Georgetown's English journal, Predicate. While a student at Georgetown, I attended various conferences and presented the following papers:
- “Writing Redemption: Transforming (Re)Presentations of Trauma in The God of Small Things.” Louisiana Conference on Literature, Language, and Culture, Lafayette, March 2010.
- “Privileging Interiority: Narrative Style in Edwidge Danticat’s The Dew Breaker.” Chesapeake American Studies Association, Washington, DC, March 2010.
- “Writing Together: A Personal Approach to Composition.” University of Virginia Graduate Conference, Charlottesville, April 2010.
- “Participation and Performativity: The Ethics of Form in Toni Morrison's Fiction.” University of Illinois Graduate Conference, Urbana-Champaign, April 2010.
- “Passive-Aggressive Negation: Social Critique in Pride and Prejudice.” City University of New York Graduate Center Conference, New York, February 2011.
I graduated from Georgetown’s Master of Arts in English program in May of 2011 and began teaching 9th grade English at the Minnie Howard Campus of T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia.
In my first year there, I taught three honors classes and co-taught one section of an ELL English class. I applied for a grant from the ACPS Dream Fund and received funding to bring Kindles and e-books into my classroom.
In my second year at TC Williams, I taught three honors classes and one standard class. I created screencasts on numerous topics ranging from parallel structure, to The Epic of Gilgamesh, to Dante’s Inferno. I applied for and received a grant from the PTSA to take all of my students on a field trip to the Newseum in downtown Washington, DC.
For the past two years, I have taught 10th grade English at The Lab School of Washington. I was named a 2014 PBS Digital Innovator for my work to integrate technology into my English classroom. I make videos and podcasts for my students, all of whom learn in non-traditional ways. I left teaching in June of 2015 to pursue more education.
During the 2015-16 school year, I had a little foray into graduate school, though now I'm working for myself as a writing and academic support specialist, which means I work with students individually on reading, writing, and organizing tasks, as well as college essays and job applications. Check out my business website -- The Writing Room.
What is this blog called?
You can thank presenters Erick Gordon, Noah Gordon, and Nathan Blom for their presentation on design thinking at the 2013 NCTE annual convention. Applying design thinking to vocabulary instruction leads to the invention of words. Inventing words allows students to proceed through the stages of design thinking as they learn to think more deeply about the nuances of words.
Noah Gordon, a teacher in New York City, demonstrated the idea of inventing words with his word, humalage (Humor + Malleability + Courage = Humalage). He reminds himself of this quality when he needs some extra motivation!
So here is how I arrived at WHIMETALOGUE as the new name for my blog. First, I made a list of all the qualities that I thought were important in my thinking, teaching, writing, and reading. Then, I narrowed down the list and tried to pick some sweet-sounding words.
My first attempt: ardor/arduous + solitary + dialogue/dialectic = ardiatolary. I made a list of all the syllables in this words and then tried to recombine them in a clever way. Thus, ardialotary. That seemed difficult to pronounce, and it lacked the fluidity and spunk of words like bamboozle, penultimate, and nuance.
My second attempt: Wouldn't it be cool to add the root "meta" to my word? This led to metasolardinous, dialogic metardary, and solidogic metardy, all of which would mean: thinking about how we think about the ardor (or arduous task) of solitary dialogue, whatever that is. These all sounded like they had something to do with metatarsals. I didn't want to evoke feet. Move on.
My third attempt: How about the word "nuance," because it's a pretty sweet word, and it's often lacking in discussions these days. So I tried it: quietude + fascination + nuance = quinua? fasolance? The former sounds like quinoa, and the latter evokes flatulence. So much for nuanced fascination.
My fourth attempt: replace "nuance" with "practice, thus: fascination + quietude + practice = fasolpraction. That sounds like an unfortunate medical procedure. No good.
My fifth attempt: whimsy + meta + dialogue = WHIMETALOGUE!
OK, but what does WHIMETALOGUE mean?
WHIMETALOGUE: noun, proper.
pronunciation: whim* + met + uh + log (four syllables)
*note: whim requires aspiration, as in the advertisements for a common snack known as wheat thins.
definition: a space, usually virtual, in which one or more people engage in ardent dialogue about dialogue itself, with "dialogue" generally understood to refer to various mode of discourse, among them writing and speaking being the most common. The word represents an amalgam of three words, whimsy, meta, and dialogue, rendering it a portmanteau word. Thus the dialogue in such a space must be whimsical, as in creative, uninhibited, spirited, and fantastical. Jargon has no place in such a space, as it too often obscures meaning and shortcuts original thinking. Dialogue must also be conscious of itself as a contributor to a broader, more inclusive conversation, and more importantly, should contribute to or engender yet more dialogue, either in this same space or in another. Hence a space for whimsical, self-aware, socially conscious dialogue: WHIMETALOGUE. Please note that this definition is subject to change on a whim.