Alumni spotlights

Emily Brown
Emily Brown portrait

Emily Brown is a 2019 graduate from the FLTE program. She currently teaches at Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park, Illinois. She received the Bonnie S. Jugenheimer scholarship for achievement in Spanish and the BAT program, and she graduated with University Honors. Since graduating, she has been an active member of the Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ICTFL), and her presentation at the ICTFL Conference with her Cooperating Teacher, Ellen Ericson, was selected as the "Best of Illinois."

This is what Emily shared about her experiences as a student in the FLTE program: "It taught me a great deal as it relates to best practices for language teaching. After finishing the FLTE program, I felt well-supported and prepared to enter the language classroom on my own. This program uses the latest research as it relates to learning and teaching languages, which helped me immensely through my student teaching and in the job application process. My teaching practices today are rooted in what I learned from the FLTE program. I love teaching a language; seeing students increase their proficiency in their Spanish as they experiment with the language is one of the most rewarding outcomes of teaching for me."


Leah Grabowski
Leah portrait

Leah Grabowski graduated from the FLTE program in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic: May 2020. She is currently teaching Spanish at Elmwood Park High School. 

This is what Leah shared about her experiences as a student in the FLTE program: "The FLTE program offers great courses and experiences to prepare you to successfully begin teaching in the world language classroom. Two classes that I feel helped me the most were FLTE 478 and SPAN 477. FLTE 478 teaches the pedagogy behind second language acquisition, while SPAN 477 allows you to put what you learned to work to create your own communicative grammar lessons. The classes, two semesters of classroom observations, the creation and teaching of lessons, plus student teaching made me feel prepared to begin my career as a teacher!" 


Katie Rapp
Katie portrait in classroom

Katie Rapp graduated from the FLTE program in 2019. She is currently teaching all levels of French at Galesburg High School. 

This is what Katie shared about her experiences as a student in the FLTE program: "My experience going through the FLTE program at UIUC was amazing. I got to work with so many incredible teachers and students that really helped shape me into the teacher that I am today. Due to the pandemic and COVID-19, it really changed how we educate and learn, and being a teacher also being a student - because I'm always learning: how to change my mindset or adopting to a new situation (like COVID-19). The program set me up really well and taught me how to solve problems as they arrive, I am very fortunate for the time I got to spend in the FLTE program, my mentors, my teachers, and Dr. Pamela Greene’s advice while completing this program. I couldn't picture myself doing anything else than teaching French! Merci beaucoup!"


Mallory Sherwood
Mallory Sherwood portrait

Mallory Sherwood graduated from the FLTE program in the Spring of 2019. She is currently teaching 7th and 8th grade Spanish at The Carleton Washburne School in Winnetka district 36.

This is what Mallory shared about her experiences as a student in the FLTE program: "The student teaching experience in the Champaign Public schools more than prepared me to become a teacher. I was lucky to have Florencia Henshaw as a methods course instructor and truthfully it was the most informative class I took in undergrad. I love being a Spanish teacher because I get to open my students' eyes and minds to how they fit into a globalized world." 


Danielle Morrow
Danielle Morrow portrait

Danielle Morrow graduated from the FLTE program in 2017. She has taught Spanish at Centennial High School in Champaign for the past 4 years, and prior to that, she taught in Rochester, IL. In August of 2021, she obtained her Master's degree in Educational Policy, Organization, and Leadership from the University of Illinois. Danielle now serves as a cooperating teacher for teacher candidates in the FLTE program. 

This is what Danielle shared about her experiences as a student in the FLTE program: "I loved the time I spent with my cohort of future teachers in the FLTE program. I enjoyed learning about new teaching methods from my wonderful professors, like Dr. Henshaw, and creating lessons that I was able to apply to my future teaching, as I started teaching with a solid portfolio of lessons to build off of. It was also a great experience spending a full school year with the classes I student-taught. I already had relationships and a good knowledge of the students I would work with, as well as learning first-hand how to be an effective teacher from my amazing cooperating teachers, Amy Westfield and Katie Bednar. While it is true that there are things you may not experience until your first year of teaching, the FLTE program made me feel prepared to teach Spanish to young minds in creative and innovative ways."


Margaret Beutke (Nagle)
Margaret Beutke (Nagle) headshot

Margaret Beutke graduated from the FLTE program in 2013. She is currently teaching Spanish at Stagg High School in Palos Hills, IL. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Reading from the University of Saint Francis (Joliet, IL). She has served as the department literacy specialist and she has been on several curriculum writing committees in her school.

This is what Margaret shared about her experiences as a student in the FLTE program: "It was nothing but positive! It helped prepare me to teach in my own classroom in many ways. From my study abroad experience in Bilbao, Spain, to the variety of classrooms and communities that I worked in in my pre-service and student teaching experiences, I left confident that I was ready to walk into a classroom of my own. Even now, several years after graduating, I still feel supported in the FLTE program by connecting with others on Twitter and within my district. I believe there are 4, if not more of us, from the FLTE program in my district!"


Nicole Majca
Nicole Majca headshot

Nicole graduated from the FLTE program in 2017. She was the recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Beginning Teacher Award (OBTA) from the Illinois chapter of the Association of the Colleges of Teacher Education’s (IACTE). She has taught all levels of Spanish and currently teaches Spanish 1 and 2 at Downers Grove North. 

This is what Nicole shared about her experiences as a student in the FLTE program: "Every professor prepared me with their rigorous, immersive courses that I truly felt ready in terms of teaching a second language via best practices. I was able to feel my personal and professional growth throughout my time in the program. The material that I learned helped me become the teacher who I am today. I am still in touch with some of the professors now, and I cherish their knowledge and how well they influenced me with their expertise during my time at U of I. When graduating, I felt confident that I would be able to maintain the ACTFL standards, create a good rapport with students, and succeed in my career, which is not something that every university teacher candidate could say. I would give all thanks to the FLTE program.


Itandehui (Ita) Luis
 Itandehui (Ita) Luis

Ita graduated from the FLTE program in 2017. She is a Bilingual/ MTSS Interventionist at Chicago Public Schools in the Little Village neighborhood, where she provides pull-out and push-in support for small groups of students. She is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in School Counseling. 

This is what Ita shared about her experiences as a student in the FLTE program: "Despite some tiring days, I had a great experience going through the FLTE program. My director’s, professors’, cooperating teacher’s, and classmates’ support helped me face some of the challenges that I experienced as a student teacher and that made a big difference for me. For someone who faced impostor syndrome as an undergrad, the love and support was very much appreciated! This program strongly prepared me with the “new” model of teaching for communication and not grammar. I was very well prepared that I was able to transfer many of the skills that I gained as a foreign language teacher to my current position and that eased the transition. I am very proud to have graduated from U of I’s FLTE program and I am grateful for the strong education and skills it gave me. Go Illini!"


Jenna Lindholm (Kirwan)
Jenna Lindholm (Kirwan)

Jenna Lindholm graduated from the FLTE program in May of 2012. She has taught Spanish in high schools in Illinois, but she is currently teaching college-level Spanish. In 2015, she completed a Master’s degree in Spanish Language and Culture at the University of Salamanca (Spain). She also has a Learning Behavior Specialist endorsement and is currently working on an Educational Technology Specialist endorsement.

This is what Jenna shared about her experiences as a student in the FLTE program: "The program gave me two very important things that I will forever continue to develop. I learned how to teach in context and I learned how important it is to continue to explore the cultures and communities that I teach about. The journey of learning does not have a final destination, it is a beautiful expedition that continues as long as you allow it. In order to ensure that I am providing the most optimal environment for language development, I find myself regularly asking the following questions: How can I contextualize a goal for students so that the exercise mimics an authentic experience? How can I encourage students to make personal connections to the course content? What are students hoping to accomplish through taking this course? What can I do to help students recognize and feel proud of their growth? I will forever be thankful to the University of Illinois for the teachers who encouraged me, my classmates who collaborated with me, and the experiences that pushed me to grow."


John Foulk
John Foulk

John Foulk completed the FLTE program and his MA in Classics in 2017. He has taught Latin at the elementary and middle school levels at Countryside School in Champaign, at the high school level for his student teaching at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School in Palos Hills, and at the college level at the University of Illinois. In 2019, he received his endorsement in gifted education. He currently teaches at Parkview High School in Lilburn, Georgia, for one of the largest elective public school Latin programs in the United States. John has written two self-published novellas, available in both Latin and Ancient Greek versions: Mercurius Omnia Furatur/Ἑρμῆς πάντα κλέπτει (Hermes Panta Kleptei) and Nasreddin Chogia: Fabellae/Νασρεδδὶν Χότζας· Μῦθοι (Nasreddin Chotzas: Mythoi). Mercurius Omnia Furatur/Ἑρμῆς πάντα κλέπτει is a novice-level adaptation of the myth of the ancient Greek/Roman god Hermes/Mercury, who as a baby tricks and steals from the other gods. Nasreddin Chogia: Fabellae/Νασρεδδὶν Χότζας· Μῦθοι is an intermediate-level adaptation of 30 fables about Nasreddin Hoca, the famous sage and trickster from Turkish folklore.

This is what John shared about his experiences as a student in the FLTE program: "The FLTE program at the University of Illinois challenged my goals and beliefs regarding language teaching. When I took Spanish in high school, I was a grammar geek - I loved conjugation charts. When I decided to become a Latin teacher, I went in hoping to inspire my future students with my love of grammar. The FLTE 471 course introduced me to second language acquisition research and research-informed practices that lead to student success in the language. My approach to language teaching completely shifted from a focus on grammatical precision and memorization to a focus on growth and proficiency. I completed my student teaching under the mentorship of Anna Reiff at Stagg High School, who had just begun to transition her Latin program from a traditional curriculum centered around explicit grammar to a curriculum based on the principles of Comprehensible Input (CI). My FLTE coursework and my student teaching in a CI program helped mold me into the teacher I am today. I would not have my job in Parkview’s 100% CI Latin program without my coursework at the University of Illinois."

Emily Risner
Emily Risner Headshot

My name is Emily Risner, I graduated in May 2022. I am currently teaching Spanish I and II at Sycamore High School in Sycamore, Illinois. I received the Bonnie S. Jugenheimer award for the BAT program. I loved my experience in the FLTE program. The FLTE program brought me great friends and a strong system of support when starting my teaching career. The classes taken during this program cover all aspects of evaluation along with lesson and unit planning, which has been super beneficial in my first year teaching. The student teaching requirements of the program also helped me feel very prepared going into my first year because we spent so much of the semester doing hands-on teaching that I felt my classroom management and teaching skills improved immensely. One thing I really love about teaching is the relationships I build with my students and seeing them improve over the year. One of the best parts is finally reaching a student that has been struggling or seeing the students grasp the material that you are teaching. I also enjoy being part of a school community and getting involved outside of the classroom. I am so thankful for all the mentors I had throughout this program and it is great staying in touch with everyone still!