Emily Wender

Emily Wender

Emily Wender believes in the power of reading. She knows how words and language can help bring people together, and that’s what inspires her to teach the next generation of English teachers.

What is it about English that initially drew you in—and ultimately keeps you interested?

I love to read and write, and at its core, English Education is about valuing literacy and how it develops. I actually became an elementary school teacher first and noticed that I was most excited about how my students were growing as readers and writers. This interest prompted me to go to graduate school for English, and I was lucky enough to do a program where I could roam and bring disparate interests together. I took courses in composition, modernist literature, poetry, hermeneutics, pedagogy, you name it. I got to be a generalist in content and a specialist in pedagogy, which is what you have to be if you teach high school English. I took time off my graduate program to do just that, which I loved. In fact, I ended up completing my dissertation research on the role of emotion in literary response in a 10th-grade English class. I was interested then and remain interested now in how classroom reading experiences can create community, how schooling can help people grow their own reading lives and become self-identified readers, and how teachers have the power to facilitate those changes. 

What do you like about teaching English Education and preparing future teachers?

It’s a privilege to watch college students enter our program as students and leave as teachers. It’s truly an incredible transformation, and I’m amazed each year I get to witness their growth. It doesn’t happen overnight, though. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. I love helping aspiring teachers on their journeys to become educators, and I recognize that those journeys can be long and that they are never easy. Because I get to work with students in more than one class, I really get to dig into those changes, the ups and the downs, and the milestones. My favorite part of my work is building those relationships and seeing teacher candidates through to the end of student teaching and off to their careers.

What advice would you give students about how to succeed in college?

  • Get involved on campus. Find people and places that matter to you at IUP.
  • Make friendships with people in your major and your department.
  • Reach out to your professors and embrace asking for help.
  • Try new things.