Institute Community

 

Please download the Principles of Civility for NEH Institutes, as well as the UTEP NEH Community Agreements, for encouraging an ethos of openness and respect, upholding the basic norms of civil discourse.


Adrian Jurado 05152017Adrian Jurado is an El Paso native, and currently lives in Austin, Texas. He teaches Government and AP Government at Del Valle High School where he is also the leader of the Government / Economics professional learning community and the freshmen soccer coach. When not at work, Adrian enjoys playing soccer, reading fiction and non-fiction alike, especially books related to the Southwest. He hopes to learn more about the identities from the border, the idea of binationalism, and to create lessons to help his students learn more about their own cultures and identities. Adrian can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 



Alison Luvera Kairis 05132017Alison Luvera Kairis is from Bellevue, Washington. She teaches Spanish and Leadership Development at Redmond High School. Alison also coaches the Redmond High School swim and badminton teams. She enjoys traveling, backpacking in the Pacific Northwest, reading and studying languages. Alison volunteers regularly at BloodWorks NW, a local blood bank, by registering donors. She is excited to incorporate the content of the NEH Summer Institute into her Spanish and leadership curriculum. Alison can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 



April McNary 05102017April McNary is from Phoenix, Arizona. She teaches sophomore English at Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix. April is a voracious reader of young adult literature and enjoys spending time with friends and family around the pool. She also appreciates art and visits the Phoenix Art Museum on a regular basis. April is a member of the National Council of English Teachers (NCTE) and Arizona English Teachers Association (AETA) as well as a teacher consultant for the Central Arizona Writing Project, a branch of the National Writing Project. She plans to incorporate gained knowledge of the Chihuahuan Desert histories to various writers’ workshops focusing on narratives and identities. April can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or @april_mcnary.



Cheryl Smith Cheryl Smith
teaches Spanish and is the gifted and talented program coordinator at Saydel High School in Des Moines, Iowa, where she lives with her husband and three children. Before moving to Iowa in 2004, she taught Spanish in her hometown of St. Louis, MO. Cheryl is an avid reader, gardener, and walker. She plans to apply this summer’s experience in her AP Spanish class in her units regarding issues of emigration and immigration. This work in the humanities and arts will also support her instruction about the issues of identity and nationality. Cheryl can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and @SraCSmith.

 



Christa Toohill 04282017Christa A. Toohill
is from Bloomington, Indiana, where she teaches middle school Spanish and World Languages and cultures. Her hobbies are running and cycling. Christa also enjoys traveling and has journeyed to Spain, Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Guatemala. She volunteers with an international student ministry at her church.  Christa plans to share the knowledge and experiences of borderland narratives with her 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students through creative curricular units. Follow her classes @BMS_WLC.




Dina Mahmood 05042017Dina Mahmood
hails from Southern California. She teaches Mathematics and Model United Nations (MUN) at a high school in Santa Ana, California. She enjoys cooking, reading, and yoga. As an active teacher leader at her school, Dina encourages educators and students to develop a critical understanding of their communities and themselves. She plans to apply her knowledge of the Chihuahuan Desert histories and narratives in her math unit on graphing immigration stories as well as in her MUN course on the relationships between neighboring countries. Dina can be reached via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Elizabeth Hetzel 05142017Elizabeth Hetzel is from Atlanta, Georgia. She teaches high school English at Holy Spirit Preparatory School in Atlanta. Elizabeth also works in the First-Year Composition program at Kennesaw State University and is part of the Core Studies faculty at Oglethorpe University. When she’s not teaching, Elizabeth enjoys hiking, running, and cooking with her two daughters—and reading and writing alone in her garden patio. She plans to incorporate her Chihuahuan Desert experience into her American Literature and Narratives of the Self courses this fall. Elizabeth can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

 



Esmeralda Soto 05152017Esmeralda L. Soto is from Mastic Beach, New York. She teaches Spanish and Italian as world languages at Brentwood High School in Brentwood, New York. She has traveled to Nicaragua to aid with humanitarian efforts for a rural community and actively volunteers for animal rescue organizations. Esmeralda plans to apply her knowledge of the Chihuahuan Desert histories and narratives through a comparative analysis on borderlands people’s identities and identity formation with adolescent immigrants in Long Island, New York. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 



Francesca Alonso 05152017Francesca Alonso is from El Paso, Texas. She teaches U.S. History dual credit at Northwest Early College High School in Canutillo, Texas, a community outside of El Paso. Francesca enjoys cooking and the outdoors. She has taught for six years at an early college high school. Francesca plans to incorporate the history of the Chihuahuan Desert into her courses. The Summer Institute will provide her with resources to bridge the gap between the grand historical narrative of the United States and the regional history of the borderlands.



Gary Rundell 05122017Gary P. Rundell is from La Union, New Mexico. He teaches U.S. History and world geography at Mountain View High School in El Paso, Texas. Gary is the Head Football Coach/Athletic Coordinator at Mountain View, where he enjoys typically a 98 percent passing rate with his students on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exams. He is an avid hunter and fisherman with fly fishing for native trout being his passion. Gary spends most of his free time hiking and fishing with his family in the Chihuahuan Desert he calls home. Gary plans to apply his newfound knowledge of the desert borderlands into creating dynamic, diverse lesson plans for his classes at Mountain View. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Gordon Hultberg 05142017Gordon Hultberg is a veteran teacher of English, drama, and the humanities with an interest in the arts and letters, Christianity, and democratic learning. A California native, he teaches in Salt Lake City, which has significant immigrant and refugee populations. Gordon expects the Summer Institute to open conversations about adolescent literacies, languages, and learning. He hopes to use new strategies among binational students in Utah and California with web-based instruction and also to find community among critical educators. Gordon enjoys biking, parakeets, and jazz piano as well as reading and teaching Charles Dickens and James Lee Burke. He will be an independent scholar at the Dickens Universe at the University of California, Santa Cruz in August. Gordon can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and @pradlfan.




Joseph LeffJoseph “Joey” Louis Leff is from El Paso, Texas, and teaches Dual Credit/AP United States History at an early college in Clint, Texas. Joey loves the outdoors and is usually on his dirt bike on the weekends when he is not coaching the mock trial team, debate team, or tutoring. Joey loves reading history, but is beginning to enjoy many fictional works as much as the work from Eric Foner or H.W. Brands. He plans to use the knowledge gained from the NEH Summer Institute to develop activities on identities and geographies about the Southwestern borderlands in his dual-credit and AP courses. Joey can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..





Kate Hoin 05152017Kate Hoin is from Troy, Michigan, and teaches Spanish at various levels in high school as well as community college and for adult learners. After attending the University of Michigan, she studied in Sevilla, Spain, for one year, lived in Texas for seven years, received her master’s in Spanish Language and Linguistics from the University of Houston/University of Salamanca, and travels as often as possible to Spanish-speaking countries. Katie is an avid reader, aspiring writer, chef-in-training, and sometimes-actress. She is excited to embark on this journey to study the stories of the borderlands as well as share to them with her students in Michigan.   



Kate Whelan 05142017Katherine “Katie” Whelan teaches all levels of secondary, sheltered ESL social studies and English language arts. She integrates the arts and humanities and finds intersectional identities to be frequent themes for her students. Therefore, Katie is excited at the potential for this workshop to enrich projects in both the classroom and community. She produces “Chispa” on the Richmond Independent Radio’s WRIR 97.3 with students. Katie works with organizations to support LGBTQ youth as well as families who are undocumented and teachers of students who are undocumented. Katie takes trumpet lessons, likes a good show, and is slowly restoring a 1967 Chevy and centenarian storefront in Richmond, Virginia, where she lives with a husky named Lola.





Kaye Mullins 05112017Kaye Mullins is from El Paso, Texas. She is the education curator at the Centennial Museum at the The University of Texas at El Paso. As part of the public outreach activities, she develops workshops for teachers and young adults as well as learning camps for children on a variety of subjects that include the Chihuahuan Desert. Kaye is a trained Civilian Emergency Reaction Team (CERT) member and a certified facilitator for Project WILD and Project Learning Tree. She enjoys exploring new places, teaching, and music. She plans to apply her knowledge of the Chihuahuan Desert histories and narratives by developing workshops and traveling presentations for area schools. Always looking for a new and better way of presenting the Chihuahuan Desert, Kaye plans to also use her newly acquired knowledge to help develop exhibits at the museum. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Kelly Mullen 05152017Kelly Mullen teaches high school Spanish in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A recent Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, she is passionate about teaching her students about the world around them and encourages them to learn more about the issues facing our local and global communities. Kelly plans to apply her knowledge of the Chihuahuan Desert histories to broaden the perspectives of her students by gaining the opportunity to learn firsthand about the cultures and peoples of the region. She enjoys a variety of outdoor activities including camping, kayaking, and biking. Kelly can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Linda Okoth 05132017Linda Okoth lives in Herndon, Virginia. She teaches digital and studio art to Upper Schoolers at a JK – 12 independent school.  Adobe Illustrator is Linda’s favorite computer program; fiber art and ink painting are her favorite studio disciplines. As a Community Service Coordinator she engages with students, faculty, staff, and community members in meaningful ways. An expectant gardener, Linda appreciates the beauty and happy memories that a garden brings. She is honored to be selected for the Summer Institute and excited about how this experience will shape her own teaching and artistic process.  Linda can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




Marty Frazier 05082017Marty Frazier hails from Cleveland, Ohio, and teaches 11th and 12th grade literature at Hathaway Brown School. He has taught in public, charter, and independent schools and has worked with elementary through high school students in a variety of educational contexts. Outside of teaching, Marty is a part-time graduate student pursuing an M.A. in English with a focus on 19th century American literature. In Cleveland, he can be found romping around the Cuyahoga Valley National Park with his Goldendoodle, Theo, and cheering on the Cavaliers. Marty is thrilled to bring back borderlands histories and stories to the Midwest and hopes to infuse his curriculum with diverse narratives of the region.



Meredith Wales 05102017Meredith F. Wales teaches Advanced English 10 and Leadership in Vancouver, Washington. In her split role as Skyview’s Climate and Culture Coach, Meredith also implements Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Restorative Practices. A former marketing and music professional, Meredith is an avid traveler, history buff, and rocker. She’s an advocate for increasing student voice and equity, which is the foundation of Building Our Legacy Together (BOLT), a TED Talk-inspired event she produces annually. Following the Institute, Meredith intends to introduce broader curriculum to her school’s worldview-focused English 10 classes, and share vital identity-related resources with the entire District. Meredith can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and @MrsWalesSkyview.



Stan Lau 04292017Stanley “Stan” Lau is from San Francisco, California. He teaches English language arts at San Francisco University High School (UHS). At UHS, he teaches 9th grade English as well as upper-level seminars focused on post-colonial literature. Stan is also the co-chair of the Asian Educators Alliance where he helped reboot a national conference for Asian-American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) educators to network, build mentoring structures, identify challenges, and discuss strategies to support AAPI educators, students, and families. He enjoys being outside, traveling, geeking out about literature, and trying new foods.  Stan plans to apply his knowledge from this summer’s institute to create a course on “The Global Novel,” which will focus on transnational (i.e., global) issues, including human rights, global warming, terrorism, and human migration. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  



Stephanie D. Colquitt 05162017Stephanie D. Colquitt is originally from Miami, Florida, and teaches Spanish language arts at a high school in Auburn, Alabama. She loves cooking, spending time with her family, being in the outdoors, and going to group fitness classes. Stephanie loves the study of history and is particularly interested in the suffrage of Blacks and Latinos in the hemispheric Americas. She plans to apply her knowledge of the Chihuahuan Dessert histories and narratives in her Spanish courses with hopes of providing her students with a better perspective of Hispanics in the United States and Spanish-language speakers in the world. Stephanie can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  
 



Talia Gonzalez 04272017Talía González teaches middle school Spanish language arts in New York City, although she has taught every grade between kindergarten and 8th grade. She has led workshops on language teaching, social justice education, and curriculum development at national and local conferences. Talía has published in the National Network for Early Language Learning and is a part-time graduate student. Outside of school, she is an avid Flamenco dancer, reader, cook and knitter—and integrates these into her teaching whenever possible! Talía looks forward to incorporating themes from this Institute into her curriculum, which focuses on the experiences of Latinas and Latinos in the United States. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or @taliagonzalez2



Valarie Kubos 05112017Valarie Kubos was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She attended Houston ISD schools and received her bachelor’s degrees in history and political science from Texas A&M University and as a non-traditional student. Val teaches 7th and 8th grade social studies at Project Chrysalis Middle School, the pride of the East Side. She is the proud mom of a, soon-to-be, Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Houston. One of her most joyous hobbies is listening to her son Cameron perform on his trumpet. Val is passionate about and highly involved in the community efforts of her students, 97 percent of whom are recent immigrants or first-born citizens. She spends a lot of “extra” time connected to former students through sports activities, community events, and college support. Val is extremely honored for this opportunity to learn even more about borderlands cultures and to bring back to her students a greater sense of pride and curiosity for their cultures.  She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Victoria Volker 05062017Victoria Volker is from Austin, Texas, but is currently living and teaching in Nashville, Tennessee. She teaches AP US History at a magnet school in the heart of the city. Victoria loves to spend her free time outdoors, either hiking or at the dog park with her rescue pup named Primrose. Victoria works with the Girls Empowerment Network in Austin, and is planning on taking her undergraduate focus on social and emotional learning into graduate studies and eventually back to the public schools. She hopes to use her time studying borderlands narratives to give her students an interactive experience learning American history, which teaches them to think with more nuance and engage their sense of wonder. Victoria can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.