Contributor Bios

John Banschbach is part of the English education faculty at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He teaches courses in children’s and young adult literature. (

Kelly Birkett is an Earth and Physical science teacher at Hayfield High School, and she lives in Stewartville, Minnesota. She has been teaching science for 13 years, six of which occurred in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, which is located in a suburb of Philadelphia. Kelly received her BSED in Earth and Space Science from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she also did a bit of graduate work in the physical sciences. In the near future, Kelly hopes to begin to pursue a master’s degree in educational leadership or school counseling.

Melissa Brandt is the Students In Transition Coordinator for Rochester Public Schools. She holds an MA in Literature and an MFA in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University-Mankato.

Emily Brisse–Emily Brisse is in her tenth year of teaching English at Watertown-Mayer High School. Where her teaching interests often involve technology, her writing interests focus on place. She meshes the two at her blog Landing on Cloudy Water, and can be contacted there, or at

Susan Leigh Brooks teaches literacy and education-related courses at Bethel University after teaching middle and high school English for 12 years.  She has a PhD in Literacy Education from the University of Minnesota and is always on the lookout for a really good book.

Heidi Burns has spent the last fourteen years teaching composition and introductory literature courses at various universities and colleges in the Midwest. She completed her graduate work at Iowa State University and has been a loyal Cyclones fan since. Her passion for student learning is the driving factor in everything she does in the classroom. She can be reached at

Laura Cattrysse is in her third year of an English Studies Undergraduate Program at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Prior to attending MSU-Mankato, she attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. She enjoys writing non-fiction and literary journalism pieces, and is interested in technical communication and journalism as well. She is currently conducting feminist research about the use of assisted reproductive technologies and how these technologies affect our cultural definition of motherhood. Some of her hobbies include reading, hula-hooping, and going on nature walks. She can be contacted at

Kathleen C. Colantonio-Yurko was an English teacher for many years in Florida. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Literacy at SUNY Brockport. Much of her research explores multicultural young adult literature, critical literacy, and social justice issues. She has recently been published in the Journal of Practitioner Research and The Dragon Lode.

Maureen Connolly, EdD was an English teacher at Mineola High School, in NY for 15 years.  She currently teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in secondary education for the School of Education at The College of New Jersey and is a consultant for CBK Associates.  Maureen’s research interests include service learning, assessment, and mentoring, and engaging teaching methods.  Her latest publication is the coauthored ASCD book, Achieving Next Generation Literacy: Using the Tests (You Think) You Hate to Teach the Students You Love (2016).

Mike P. Cook, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of English Education at Millikin University, where he teaches and coordinates courses for the English Education program. He has done research and presented on using graphic novels, multimodal texts, and gaming as literacy sponsors in middle and high school ELA classrooms. His work involves engaging all students by integrating relevant reading, writing, and technology to produce fully-literate 21st century digital citizens and preparing pre-service English Language Arts teachers to provide effective and meaningful literacy instruction and to be intentional agents of change. His publications include Minnesota English Journal, the Journal of College Literacy and Learning, Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, among others. Follow him on Twitter: @mikepcook.

Dallas Crow lives in St. Paul and teaches at Breck School. His poetry chapbook, Small, Imperfect Paradise, is available from Parallel Press (

Jeremy Corey-Gruenes teaches English and humanities courses at Albert Lea High School, where he also serves as Language Arts Curriculum Coordinator.  Special teaching interests currently include creative nonfiction and incorporating the music of Bob Dylan into as many lessons as possible. He can be reached at

Luke Daly writes and teaches creative writing and composition in Western New York. Recent poetry appears in Subtropics, Comstock Review, and Architrave Press.  His teaching philosophy centers on helping students experience threshold concepts of writing.

William D. Dyer, known to his students simply as “Dyer,” is taking it to the house after 33 years of teaching Shakespeare, Humanities courses, World Literature, and all sorts of courses in the Novel at Minnesota State University, Mankato. The vote is still out, but he thinks he passed the audition. Carpe diem, the cabin, the boat, and your passport, Linda. But, wherever Dyer may be, you can get him at

Joshua Feliciano currently lives in Mounds View, Minnesota and is currently attending Irondale High School. He loves to write about his own experiences in life and tends to write in his own perspective as well as others. Next year, Joshua plans to focus on the National Guard and start off his adulthood with a military path. He also has many dreams of what he wants to achieve in life besides a military path. He also wants to become an electrician so he works hard to fulfill what he intends to reach for in the skies above. Growing up, Joshua has had a troubled path wherever he used to live–a path he didn’t want to walk in but had to–but now he focuses on the bigger things slowly constructing his new path with a cleaner environment. He has high hopes for the world he plans to build inside his mind–slow but steady wins the race.

Larry Gavin is a teacher at Faribault Senior High School. He is the author of four books of poetry and also writes articles and essays for all the major outdoor and environmental publications. His latest book, A Fragile Shelter: New and Selected Poems, will be available in 2018 from Red Dragonfly Press.

Vicky GiouroukakisPhD has spent a combined twenty years teaching English and English as a Second Language at the high school level and English methods and TESOL at the college level. Her research interests include assessment and instruction, disciplinary literacy, and diversity, and her work has been featured in books and scholarly journals. Vicky’s latest publication is the coauthored ASCD book, Achieving Next Generation Literacy: Using the Tests (You Think) You Hate to Teach the Students You Love (2016).

Alexandra Glynn lives in Eden Prairie and Park Rapids and teaches English at Bemidji State as an adjunct. She earned an MA in English Literature and an MA in Old Testament Theology.

Matthew Gremo is a Junior English Education major with an endorsement in English as a Second Language.  At Millikin, Matthew acts as the president of English Club, Sigma Tau Delta, the Alumni Relations Chair for Delta Sigma Phi, a Resident Assistant for Blackburn Hall, a student worker for Millikin’s English Language Center, a writing consultant for Millikin’s Writing Center, and an editor for Millikin’s Premier Writers.  Outside of traditional academics, it is Matthew’s goal to discover new ways of integrating gaming and graphic literature into the English Language Arts classroom.

Alicia Guthmiller graduated from MSU, Mankato in December 2013. She graduated with a B.A. in English Literature and a minor in Technical Communication. She is now looking for an editing job at a publishing house. Alicia can be reached at

Kandi Heenan is an English tutor and an undergraduate at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she is studying Creative Writing and Humanities. Fiction is her weapon of choice, although she can be caught writing anything from awful limericks to slightly-better kringle recipes. Kandi can be reached at

Jennifer Hiltner is in her eighth year of teaching at Albany High School. She holds an MS in education with an emphasis on teaching, learning, and leadership. Classes she instructs include Media, Yearbook, and general English courses. She is actively pursuing her administrative licensure. She can be reached at

Heather Hurst teaches undergraduate students about diversity, social justice, and English methods and also teaches graduate students educational research methods at Frostburg State University. She gets excited about collaborating with her students on research projects and is currently leading a research team exploring and complicating narratives about bullying in young adult literature and the news media. She can be contacted at

Becca James—After graduating in 2011, from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in journalism, Becca James spent two years teaching high school English language arts at Higher Ground Academy through Teach For America. Currently, she works full-time in Chicago as a copy editor for The Onion’s sister, pop culture publication, The A.V. Club, and will be teaching in the English department of her alma mater this fall. Becca’s e-mail address is

Mary Jo Kerekes teaches technology-related business classes at Fairmont Junior/Senior High School as a community expert.  She has a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from the University of New Mexico and is currently working toward her Minnesota teaching license at Winona State University.

Jeffrey S.J. Kirchoff is an Assistant Professor of English and Writing Program Administrator at Millikin University where he teaches courses on writing, the graphic novel, and games. His publications include Technoculture, Studies in Comics, and International Journal of Comic Art, and he has presented his work at a range of conferences, including NCTE, CCCCs, and Computers and Writing.

Karla Knutson is Assistant Professor of English at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and received her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.  She teaches first-year composition courses, first-year writing-intensive seminar courses, and an upper-level study away course on ethnography.  Her current research focuses on the role of the composition course in a first-year learning community and argues that collaborating in a learning community is a risk composition instructors can take that is worth the potential rewards for both instructors and students. Karla can be reached at

Erin Kunz–Erin Kunz is Director of Writing Center and Instructor of English at Mayville State University in Mayville, North Dakota. Erin is also co-director and writer for the Writing Stories: Voices of the Valley Project at the University of North Dakota Writers Conference. Erin conducts research in educational philosophy, composition pedagogy, feminist/critical pedagogy, writing studies, and biological anthropology, because she is clearly confused about what it means to be discipline-specific. Erin can be reached at

Barbara Lehman is Professor Emeritus of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University, where she taught children’s literature and literacy courses at the Mansfield Campus for 28 years. Her scholarly focus is on global and multicultural literature, and her most recent book, Creating Books for the Young in the New South Africa: Essays on Authors and Illustrators of Children’s and Young Adult Literature (co-edited with Jay Heale, Anne Hill, Thomas van der Walt & Magdel Vorster), was published by McFarland in 2014. She was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in South Africa in 2004-2005 and most recently lived in Taiwan in 2015.

Jeanette Lukowski has been teaching a wide range of college courses since 2001–courses ranging from Developmental to Creative to Technical writing, Literature surveys and Holocaust Literature & Arts–for a number of colleges in both MN and WY. Jeanette has also published 2 memoirs, and a number of essays. Emails can be sent to:

Michael MacBride–Michael MacBride is an adjunct English/Humanities/Literature instructor teaching within a 90-mile radius of Shakopee, Minnesota. He’s a 19th-century American Lit guy by formal training, a self-taught “Comics” guy, and a lover of Latin American literature. He teaches a little bit of everything. Michael can be reached at

Melanie Magaña marches to the beat of her own drum, wherever that may lead. Although she has constructed an elaborate fantasy life into which she can escape from the meretricious corporate world, she emphatically knows the difference between the two. One day you’ll find her on the high seas, pirating on her ship The Jolly Rogering; until then, she can be reached at

Elisa R. Malinovitz–After a long career as a television meteorologist and reporter, Elisa returned to school to earn her master’s degree in Education. She is currently student teaching 8th graders at an Akron, Ohio area middle school and expects to receive her M.Ed. in May of 2015 from the University of Akron. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from San Diego State University and has completed course work in meteorology at Mississippi State University. She is the mother of two grown daughters.  Elisa Malinovitz can be reached at

Lyndi Maxwell is currently the Gifted Coordinator/Teacher at Alexander Local School District in Albany, Ohio.  She has taught 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade, and holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction from Ohio University.  Additionally, she holds a Master’s degree in Exceptional Students, a Reading Endorsement, and a Gifted Intervention Specialist License. While she enjoys teaching all subjects, her true passion and specialty is the teaching of writing.  She is actively involved in education research, publishing, and presenting on both the national and state level, primarily on children’s writing development. Her published work can be found in the journal Childhood Education as well as online at She is both a member and frequent presenter of ALER (Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers), and serves as an external reviewer on Ohio University’s Reading Education Committee.  She also enjoys working closely with her students’ families in advocating for the unique educational needs of gifted children.  She can be reached at

Cody Miller teaches 9th grade English language arts at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, the K-12 public laboratory school affiliated with the University of Florida’s College of Education. Additionally, he is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Florida, where he studies English education. He has recently been published in Multicultural Perspectives, SIGNAL, and the Journal of Practitioner Research. He was awarded the Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2016.

Ryan Morgan is a Junior English Education major with Middle School and Special Education endorsements at Millikin University. Special Education is a particularly fond interest of Ryan’s and will be the focus her James Millikin Scholars Research Project over the next two years. On campus, she is an editor for both Millikin’s Premier Writers and Collage, and is a writing consultant at the Millikin University Writing Center. She participates in the Long-Vanderburg Scholars program and is a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, Sigma Tau Delta (VP), and Phi Kappa Phi.

Mariah Morin received her B.A. in the Study of Women and Gender from Smith College, and her M.A.T. in Secondary English Education at the University of Pittsburgh. After five years as a stay at home mom, she is excited to be returning the the classroom, where she hopes to continue inquiry into her own teaching and her students’ learning.

Summer Melody Pennell is an Assistant Professor of English Education at Truman State University. She teaches courses in the Master of Arts in Education program in Secondary English, as well as courses in Young Adult Literature and critical theories. Her research interests include teacher education, critical literacy, social justice education, and queer theory and pedagogy.

Heather Porter is a graduate student at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she is earning her master’s degree in English literature. She currently teaches freshmen composition. Feel free to contact her at

Kristine Putz is a graduate of the College of Saint Benedict with a major in Communication Arts/Literature and minors in Secondary Education and German.  Currently, she is teaching English at the St. Croix Valley ALC in Stillwater, Minnesota and is working on her Masters Degree in English at St. Thomas University.  She can be reached at

Adrienne Rische is an undergraduate communication arts and literature teacher candidate at Winona State University. Her focus is on working with multicultural youth and families and continually works on school and community based projects that address issues of equity.

Abby Rosen is a freelance writer and academic tutor from the western suburbs of Minneapolis. After graduating with a degree in Teaching Communication Arts and Literature from the University of Minnesota Duluth, she taught English at a St. Paul high school school for two years. Now living in Chicago, her writing focuses on current issues in education, mental health and entrepreneurship. She is currently writing a young adult novel about growing up anxious and living with loss. Contact her at

Sharon Rudnicki is Chair of the English Department and teaches Middle and Upper School English at The Agnes Irwin School, an all-girls’ school in Rosemont PA. She holds a BA and MA in English from The University of Pennsylvania. Email her at

Taya Sazama is a graduate student at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul where she is earning her master’s degree in English. Prior to this, she taught English for three years at Brandon Valley High School in South Dakota. Feel free to contact her at

Burke Scarbrough is an Assistant Professor of English Education at the University of Minnesota Duluth and coordinator of UMD’s Teaching Communication Arts & Literature program. He has taught secondary English in New York City public schools and in a New England boarding school’s summer enrichment program. His research interests include secondary literacy pedagogy and the role of summer in youth learning and development.

Wes Schaller is a writer of creative fiction, mainly within the horror genre, and has also been working as a freelance writer for more years than he cares to remember. Believing that reading is essential to becoming a good author, he studies a wide range of literature. He despises academic essays, yet somehow finds himself writing them all the time. Wes can be reached at

Cassie Scharber–Exhausted-yet-exhilarated assistant professor of Learning Technologies @ University of Minnesota. Enjoys thinking, teaching, learning, researching on how technology can enhance teaching-n-learning. Passionate about literacy(ies), the Internet, and ice cream. Let’s connect :

Jennifer Simpson is an Assistant Professor in the Leadership Studies department at University of the Cumberlands. Dr. Simpson has been a “Reading First” state trainer, and presented at state education conferences including the Kentucky Association of School Councils and the Kentucky Council for Teachers of English and Language Arts. She has participated in the Kentucky Leadership Network for Language Arts endeavor to incorporate literacy in all content areas since the inception of Senate Bill 1. In 2009, she was recognized by the Kentucky House of Representatives for her work in literacy in Kentucky.  She has also been published in regional, national, and international journals on leadership, and literacy topics.

Gillian Singler–I teach ELA/Communications at Worthington High School. My teaching responsibilities entail a variety of instruction, which at the moment include composition, literature, communications, and mythology. I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in English studies at MNSU. My writing interests include dabbling in short stories and composing literary analyses. Feel free to contact me with questions, suggestions, and ideas at or

Kevin Smith–I grew up the youngest of four children from a middle income family. I started going to MNSU in 2012 to finish my BFA in Creative Writing with a minor in Screenwriting and I hope to get my Master’s in following years. I hope that after my schooling is finished I can begin writing a 12 book series about the 12 most historic events in the life and death of a planet that I’ve been working on for the last 14 years. Kevin’s e-mail address is

Brittany Stojsavljevic is a writer and editor for the Marketing, Insights and Communications Department at the University of St. Thomas. She is a current graduate student at St. Thomas, and graduated in 2011 from Ohio Wesleyan University with majors in English and journalism.

Jennifer Thiel was born in 1991 in Hersbruck Germany and lived her whole life in Nuremberg, Bavaria. Since high school she’s been interested in literature and literary theory and began studying German and English to become a teacher in 2011 at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg. During her time at the university she learned several different approaches for teaching literature to high school students and teaching in general. She’s a fan of close reading and analysis.

Mitzi Watkins is a graduate of the University of Houston and currently teaches at Patterson Elementary School in Houston, Texas. She can be reached at

Jongsun Wee–Jongsun Wee is an assistant professor in college of education at Winona State University, Winona, MN. She teaches language arts and children’s literature classes and her research interests include multicultural children’s literature, literature discussion, and teacher education. She may be reached at

Neil Witikko–After 30 years of teaching English at the high school level, Neil Witikko teaches in the School of Education at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. His specialty area is literacy studies. Neil’s research interests include peer response groups in the writing classroom and digital literacies. Neil’s e-mail address is

Nicholas Wysocki–I am an Assistant Professor of Education Studies at Winona State University located in Winona, Minnesota. I teach two courses in Educational Sociology, namely EFRT 308: Human Relations and Student Diversity and EFRT 460: Multicultural Children, Youth, and Families. My scholarly/teaching interest involves the development of a Digital Ethnography project that my students use to analyze their clinical experiences working with diverse learners in a variety of school and community settings. I also direct an urban education travel study program that immerses my students into the St. Paul Public Schools and Minneapolis cultural community. Nicholas’ e-mail address is

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