Current Students

Master's in English Education > Current Students

Members of the Master’s in English Education community at the 2022 Summer Retreat

Portrait of Kelly Adkins

Kelly Adkins


Kelly Adkins teaches at Mahomet-Seymour High School and is investigating the influence of students’ self-selected reading on their learning. “I think today our most important job as educators,” Kelly shares, “is to ensure our classrooms are equitable and promote inclusion for all our students. This requires us to examine our practices and methods, and I knew this program would help me to do that effectively and with a clear direction.”

Portrait of Raquel Armas

Raquel Armas


Raquel Julissa Armas, a teacher at Hamlin Upper Grade Center 6-8, is exploring how to effectively introduce and teach diverse books in the ELA classroom to foster social change and understanding. Raquel reflects, “I had just begun my first year of teaching when I learned about the new English Education Master’s program at ISU. I had been experiencing feelings of uncertainty, and I dearly missed having a community of peers who were like minded and determined to enact socially just ELA teaching. After enrolling in the first course, I fell in love with the art of teaching once again. Having a community to support, and that actively supports me, was something I realized I needed to further grow as a socially just ELA teacher. Staying current in the English world and exploring my own interests reminded me of the important work we set out to do, and it challenged me to verbalize the concerns I had with the hope of finding solutions to use in my classroom and hopefully in classrooms across the country.”

Portrait of Kaitlyn Blake

Kaitlyn Blake


Katie Blake, currently teaching at Clinton High School, is focusing on how to design authentic writing instruction and opportunities for students. Katie was drawn to this program because, she explains, “I am always looking for ways to improve my practice and learn how to best invite my students in authentic, just, and equitable education.”

Portrait of Abigail Byrnside

Abigail Byrnside


Abigail Byrnside, who supports teacher candidates at Illinois State University, is interested in teaching young adult science fiction in secondary ELA classrooms and designing research-oriented clinical field experiences for undergraduate teacher candidates. “This program has given me the space to ask real questions and pursue possibilities for addressing the topics that are important in our field,” Abigail reflects. “Even better, I get to do that in a community of innovative and talented teachers.”

Portrait of Abigail Cash

Abigail Cash


Abigail Cash, a high school teacher, is pursuing research interests in formative assessment. “I have been given such an incredible opportunity to learn from brilliant and unique practicing teachers,” Abigail writes about colleagues in this program, “that I don’t know I would have ever had if I had not been accepted into this program.”

Portrait of Rachel DeLeon

Rachel DeLeon


Rachel DeLeon, who teaches at Belvidere North High School, is pursuing questions about the role of authentic audiences for student engagement in the writing process. Rachel shares about her involvement in the program, “I love being in community with like-minded people. Having a space to go to every week to hear the good thoughts of colleagues keeps me inspired.”

Portrait of Presley Di Nardi

Presley Di Nardi


Presley Di Nardi teaches middle school. She is pursuing a research interest in assessment and standards-based grading as it shapes ELA teaching and learning through which Presley hopes to critically consider “the role writing assessment plays in student learning and the entries to good writing assessment within a standards-based framework.”

Portrait of Nicole Hackney

Nicole Hackney


Nicole Hackney, a teacher at Heyworth High School, is inquiring into the connections between neurodivergent learners and social emotional learning in the ELA classroom. As she reflects on her experiences in the program, Nicole offers, “I feel fortunate to be around teacher-researchers who are both in the same boat as me (full time teachers who continually strive to improve their teaching) and who also push me to be better and want more from our profession.”

Portrait of Brandon Hillary

Brandon Hillary


Brandon Hillary, a high school teacher at Marmion Academy, is exploring writing instruction, assessment, and pedagogy in his research. “I was drawn to the program by the enticing opportunity to live and work as a teacher-scholar at the beginning of my teaching career,” Brandon explains. “Since the practices of teaching and learning are so intertwined, I find that I am at my best as a teacher when I am simultaneously operating as both a student and a researcher. I am appreciative of my colleagues in our cohort who consistently contribute to a generative classroom culture enriched by the range of our unique teaching experiences.”

Portrait of Terrelle Jackson

Terrelle Jackson


Terrelle Jackson, a high school English teacher, is engaged in inquiry at the intersections of writing pedagogy, race(-ism) in English education, social class, black feminisms, culturally sustaining pedagogies, and classroom interactions. Reflecting on his learning and inquiry in the program, Terrelle explains, “I enjoy teacher-action research because it challenges me to think more critically about the different types of data I gather in my work as a teacher and how to use that data more effectively to better educate the students I work with.”

Portrait of Shannon Maney-Magnuson

Shannon Maney-Magnuson


Shannon Maney-Magnuson, who is an instructor at Illinois State University, is exploring how teacher candidates apply a social justice framework concretely in their lesson design and teaching practice. Shannon shares, “I was initially drawn to this program because the world of ELA has so many specific calls and challenges. I always hoped that my graduate work could support my growth as an ELA teacher in ways that would benefit my students. I’m grateful to see it playing out in ways that concretely benefit learners—both the teacher candidates I work with as well as the students they aim to serve. As our coursework continues, I find myself with deep appreciation for my graduate cohort--this program fosters a protected space to think carefully as a community of practicing teachers who are eager to grow in our practice, think concretely about what this work can look like, and make impacts in students’ lives.”

Portrait of Colleen Paul

Colleen Paul


Colleen Paul, whose research interests are focused on civic literacy development in the English Language Arts classroom,​ teaches at Quincy Senior High School. “​I appreciate the opportunity to engage with and learn from colleagues with diverse experiences as both teachers and learners,” Colleen describes. “Everyone brings something different to the table, which is very refreshing and invigorating.”

Portrait of Brooklyn Vogel

Brooklyn Vogel


Brooklyn Vogel, who works with English education teacher candidates at Illinois State University, is interested in a set of overlapping interests in socially just ELA instruction in rural spaces, critical theory, dialogic interaction, choice reading, and academic advising practices. “What drew me to this program,” Brooklyn shares, “was the opportunity to deepen my commitment to a socially just ELA framework while being in community with colleagues across a diverse range of contexts. Also, I am drawn to the emphasis on building strong research skills within this program; I am eager to follow my lines of inquiry in both practical and imaginative ways.”

Portrait of Cassandra Wicks

Cassandra Wicks


Cassy Wicks, whose research inquiry focuses on formative assessment, teaches at Tremont High School. “After completing an initial Master's in Curriculum and Instruction,” Cassy reflects, “I was intrigued to hear about this English Education Masters with a cohort of colleagues who could inspire me within my field of passion. I've been truly rejuvenated by this experience with people I genuinely can relate to, celebrate with, grieve with, and rely on to keep me feeling motivated to surge forward as a teacher-scholar to meet the needs of the students we serve. The distractions within teaching are never-ending, and I'm thankful to have a focus as I move forward and to know that I am making a difference through my research regardless of all the noise around us.”