Originally from Michigan, I have travelled extensively with my work and scholarship for over two decades since graduating with a BFA with Teaching Certification. I have enjoyed an exciting career path that incorporated my desire to explore different localities and experience immersing myself in diverse cultures, both in the USA and abroad. My eclectic, yet purposeful career choices and life experiences have shaped my art work and perspectives on education, as well as my personal character in profound ways.
My first full-time position as an Art Educator was as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Botswana. I taught students ranging from ages 14-25 from a variety of local tribes at a public boarding school in the remote village of Seronga, located in the heart of the Okavango Delta. Two years of teaching in Botswana had a profound influence on my life, my teaching practice, and my interest in contextually effective approaches to education and curricula. I loved the experience of living and working abroad, every moment seemed an opportunity to learn and extend my comfort zone.
After moving back to the U.S., I taught in New Mexico and Oregon. My first published article, in School Arts Magazine, was a documentation of one of my early art lessons taught in a "Crafts" course at a high school in Oregon. I then decided to pursue a Master's degree in Curriculum and Teaching in a program for international teachers held in France and Thailand through Michigan State University, and accepted an international teaching position in the United Arab Emirates.
My three years in Abu Dhabi were exciting and productive. I learned firsthand about a fascinating culture, taught courses in International Baccalaureate Art, completed my Master's degree, created a new body of art work and exhibited it at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation, met and married my husband, and took advantage of an opportunity to work at the U.S. Embassy.
My husband's job became a determining factor in further relocations upon returning to the U.S. from Abu Dhabi and soon we moved to the Savannah, Georgia area, mid-school year. I picked up work as a freelance photojournalist for a local newspaper for a short time before accepting a position as Director of Student Life at a nearby university. In this position, in addition to my administrative and event coordination duties, I had the opportunity to teach courses as an adjunct instructor. My enjoyment of this experience led me to decide that I wanted to return to the classroom full time, teaching at the higher education level. Soon after, I was fortunate to be awarded a graduate assistantship and acceptance into the doctoral program in Curriculum Studies at nearby Georgia Southern University.
Several years later, I completed doctoral coursework and began my dissertation research. For my research topic, I focused on a culmination of my major interests in regard to the fields of Education, Art/Aesthetics, and Cultural Studies. I decided to explore how individuals perceive they are learning about the concept of culture, when immersed in a non-native culture, through aesthetic means. I collected narratives from expatriates and locals living in the U.S., Germany and Slovenia and wove them together with my own auto-ethnographic data. I was fortunate to be granted a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct the Slovenia portion of my research while living in the beautiful coastal village of Isola, Slovenia for a year.
Upon returning from Europe and graduating with my doctoral degree, my husband's position relocated us to the Washington, D.C. area. I found a full-time, seasonal position at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, as Program Coordinator for the "Smithsonian Inside Out" program at the 2010 Folklife Festival. I also continued to teach as an Adjunct Instructor for two universities in Virginia while I searched for a full-time academic position. That Fall, I accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Art Education at a university in Cleveland, Ohio. I enjoyed the position in Cleveland very much and would have loved to have stayed, but a permanent move to Ohio did not prove to be compatible with other important factors in my life. An extremely pivotal, personal tragedy led to the circumstance of beginning anew in the lovely Huntsville, Alabama area.
Buying a country home with over 10 acres and a pond in Madison County, Alabama brought out the farmers in my husband and I. We accumulated a small herd of friendly nubian goats (registered as "Goat Bros. & Does") who are responsible for weed management around the property. We stocked our pond with Tilapia, Bass, and a variety of other fun fish. We keep extra busy raising our sprightly preschooler along with generations of fowl--ducks, turkeys, guinea fowl and chickens; primarily for fresh egg production, but they also assist through tick and bug consumption. We also keep two bee hives and big plans for creating some crafty honey products in the future. Additionally, we enjoy the fruits of our labors from gardening and have begun to reap rewards from orchards planted when we first arrived.
In addition to parenting and hobby farming, I am currently pursuing an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies in a low-residency program at Sierra Nevada College to further my artistic practice. I am continually creating and exhibiting new and evolving art work. I also remain active in community efforts: Visiting with local politicians to advocate for Peace Corps and Fulbright issues, serving on the Board of the Alabama Fulbright Association and the Board of GlobalTies Alabama (formerly International Services Council of Alabama), while continuing to present at higher education institutions around the country as a Fulbright Alumni Ambassador.
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