Welcome to our New Contributing Writers!

We are so thrilled to introduce you to seven new contributing writers who will bring our blog perspectives and experiences that are not yet represented here! This year, they will be teaching us about using writing workshop to teach English Language Learners, writing for social justice, writing across the curriculum in elementary school, and so much more! Please welcome them with us!

Xochitl Bentley teaches 12th grade ELA and AP English Literature at Valor Academy High School in North Hills, CA.  She is a Teacher Leader with the Cal State Northridge Writing Project.  In 2017, she was chosen to participate in the Japan-U.S. Teacher Exchange Program for Education for Sustainable Development.  She is passionate about active environmental stewardship and environmental justice.  You can connect with her via Twitter @dispatches_b222 or via email at xbentley@brightstarschools.org.  

Kenneth Bui teaches AP English Language and Composition and English 11 at Central Bucks High School South (his alma mater) in Warrington, Pennsylvania. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education at Penn State University and received his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Delaware Valley University. You can find him on Twitter @kenbuiCBSD or contact him via email (kenbui@cbsd.org). 

Shawna Easton has been playing “teacher” ever since she was in third grade when the teaching bug bit her. She tried to get away from it by becoming a theatre major (no acting talent) or a party planner (couldn’t find a job) but she succumbed to the infection and was a middle school teacher in North Texas for 15 years. She’s only been a part of middle school and people often question her sanity, but she can’t see herself anywhere else. She has taught theatre, journalism, newspaper, creative writing, speech, and fell in love with English and reading. It’s been a match made in heaven ever since she was given the opportunity to teach 6th grade English. She loves seeing students fall in love with reading and writing and using their voice and choice to invigorate classroom lessons. She is also very passionate about helping teachers find what they love and infusing it into their lessons, which is why, for the 2020-2021 school year, she stepped out to become a campus instructional coach. Shawna is happily married to her wonderful husband, Chad, and has three fur babies, Fiona the cat, Daisy the golden retriever, and Ranger the Staffordshire terrier. She also enjoys being with her friends on a dinner or coffee date or hanging out at home, binge-watching a show on Netflix. She loves movies and anything related to pop culture. She is a hard-core Harry Potter fan and a true Hufflepuff through and through.

David Lee Finkle has been teaching in Florida for 28 years, and for 20 of those years he’s been drawing a comic strip about teaching, Mr. Fitz, for local newspapers and his website (www.mrfitz.com). He currently teaches 9th grade English and Creative Writing, and is the author of two professional books for Scholastic. David dabbles in many genres of writing. In the summer he  teaches fiction writing and cartooning at Stetson University’s HATS Program for gifted students. He acts in local theaters with his wife Andrea (or did when theaters were open), and enjoys bicycling, reading, and napping. 

Abigail Lund teaches 5th grade science and math to her fabulous kiddos in Cincinnati. She earned her BA at Judson University in Chicago-land and is working on her Masters in Teaching at Miami University through the Ohio Writing Project. She has a passion for integrating writing and reading into all contents. She loves coffee about as much as her husband and baby son… and is a self-proclaimed lifetime learner. Catch up with daily happenings and ramblings on Twitter @mrsablund or via email Abigaillund@foresthills.edu.

Aishwarya M. is a middle school teacher in Pune, India. Currently, she teaches language and literacy to 8th graders while also providing remediation and additional academic support to ELLs with learning difficulties and disabilities.

Reading Nancie Atwell and Donald Graves helped her find her voice as a teacher. She continues to rediscover her voice as she helps her students find theirs in the writing workshop.

You can find her on twitter @teachingtenets on her blog at teachingtenets.wordpress.com.

Starian Porchia is an Instructional Coach at Becky Lowery Freshman Center in Allen ISD. Before moving to the North Texas area, she grew up outside Kansas City, KS. Prior to supporting teachers, she taught at Sachse High School in Garland ISD, where she was voted by the Special Education department as the General Educator of the Year in 2018, and Anna High School in Anna, TX. 

She earned her B.A. in English Language & Literature with a minor in Secondary Education from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, KS. She continued her education at the University of Kansas to complete her M.A. in TESOL Curriculum & Instruction, in which she got the opportunity to dive into the intricacies of cultural and linguistic identity and diversity. Her first position in education was as an ESL co-teacher at Turner Middle School and she has since been teaching 9th grade intervention and on-level courses. She has since been working with diverse learners at the secondary level striving to make language and literature accessible for all scholars. Outside of the realm of English, she has had the honor to be an athletic coach and a yearbook adviser and she recently completed her M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from the University of North Texas. Above all else, she is passionate about creating environments in which students and teachers can experience education ‘sin miedo’ (without fear).

You can connect with Starian via email at starian.porchia@allenisd.org or Twitter at @StarianBlake.

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