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Curriculum Research, Early Childhood Education, Aesthetics, and Teacher Education


Learn more about what CREATE alumni are doing after completing their studies!

Profile of Tanya Cordoba

Tanya Cordoba

Assistant Professor at Anderson University, Curriculum & Instruction

Tanya Espinosa Cordoba earned her M.Ed. 14’ and Ph.D. 20’ from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Curriculum and Instruction. At the University of Illinois, she mentored student teachers and taught elementary and early childhood method courses. Her experience as a graduate student at Illinois was marked with support and opportunities to grow professionally. Dr. Cordoba joined the College of Education faculty at Anderson University, SC as a visiting assistant professor in the Fall of 2020. Her expertise includes inquiry-based teaching and learning, early childhood education, and literacy. Dr. Cordoba has led research projects within schools that sought to add value to the school communities she works with while contributing to educational research. Contributions to the research community include publications and conference presentations. Prior to her time in the academy, she taught grades 1 and 3 in International Baccalaureate Schools in the USA and Germany.
Profile of Mary Lyons

Mary Lyons

Visiting Assistant Professor at Knox College, Curriculum & Instruction

Mary Lyons is a true Illinoisan and has spent every ounce of her formal learning career – from preschool through Ph.D. – in the Midwestern locale, living in rural settings in central and western regions of the state. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Educational Studies department at Knox College. Before her graduate studies, Mary taught in early primary grades for 11 years as a classroom-based practitioner. Her research interests center around daily life in classrooms as teachers encounter and navigate tensions. Specifically, she is interested in what teachers identify as healthy and productive teaching and learning environments; ways that teachers make decisions and adapt to their unique school and classroom contexts; and ways in which teacher preparation programs influence and/or support novice teachers as they transition into the field. Mary's dissertation research was an investigation of teachers' agency when carrying out a play-based kindergarten program in our current era of academic rigor. Quote from Mary: The CREATE program at UIUC provided a foundational support as I explored my own teaching and learning histories and reconciled past educational experiences while journeying toward my aspirations as a scholar.
Profile of Jadyn Laixely

Jadyn Laixely

Alumni, Curriculum & Instruction

Jadyn Laixely is a 5th year doctoral student in Curriculum & Instruction with a multi-focus on systemic racism, social-emotional learning, and aesthetics in urban schools. She holds a BA in Music Performance from San Francisco State University and a Master's degree in Music Education from Southern Methodist University. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she taught elementary music in Dallas, TX for 10 years before moving to Champaign to pursue her PhD in education, after becoming increasingly frustrated with racial and class inequities she observed in the public school system. Jadyn's early research focused on mindfulness practices with children of color in a public fifth grade classroom. Her dissertation is a photovoice youth participatory action research project, working with Black girls and examining over-disciplining and identity.
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