Anjanette Darrington
Ph.D, Arizona State University

Visiting Assistant Professor

Office: Hudspeth Hall 310
Phone: 915-747-5128 

Pamela HerronPamela Herron (formerly Stover)
MFA, Chatham University


Office: Hudspeth Hall 209
Phone: 915-747-5702

My classes are multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary and foster an interactive, project-based environment where students explore ideas and take responsibility for their learning. I have developed and taught new courses for Asian Studies, Humanities, Religious Studies and Women’s Studies.

My research includes Confucianism/Daoism with application in the modern world, China/Chinese immigration, cultural identity, sustainability, and literature for young readers. I present regularly in the People’s Republic of China and serve as Faculty Researcher for the Confucius Institute at New Mexico State University. Internationally I serve on the Committee on Contingent Labor in the Profession for the Modern Language Association and as Treasurer for the Asian Studies Development Program.

I founded the El Paso SCBWI writing group and write poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. My work has appeared in various online and print journals. My books include: En l’air: A collection of poetry created in the air and Border Passage: Growing up in Chinatown of El Paso, Texas at the turn of the Twentieth Century (first historic fiction). I have taught at UTEP since 2003 and serve on the Asian Studies Fellows, the Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Committee, and am the Asian Studies liaison for the Liberal Arts Honors Program.

Nicole MirraNicole Mirra
Ph.D, University of California, Los Angeles

Assistant Professor

Office: Hudspeth Hall 311
Phone: 915-747-5276

I am thrilled to join the UTEP community as an Assistant Professor of English Education. Prior to earning my Ph.D. in Urban Schooling from the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, I taughtEnglish Language Arts at a public high school in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. This experience sparked my passion for English Education, which continued to grow as I taught at another public high school in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles and coordinated the UCLA Council of Youth Research,a university/school partnership that engages young people in research in their schools and communities in pursuit of educational and social justice. I am excited to bring my commitment to engaging teachers and young people in the production and sharing of powerful research to the El Paso community.

My teaching and research focuses on the intersections between critical literacy and civic engagement across multiple contexts, including urban secondary English classrooms, grassroots youth organizations, and digital learning communities. My work has appeared in such publications as Reading & Writing Quarterly, Democracy& Education, and Journal of Teacher Education. Written in collaboration with co-authors Dr. Antero Garcia and Dr. Ernest Morrell, my book, Doing Youth Participatory Action Research, will be released by Routledge Press in late 2015. I also advocate for teacher leadership and critical digital literacy as a Connected Learning Ambassador for the National Writing Project. 

Jonna PerilloJonna Perrillo
Ph.D, New York University

Associate Professor

Office: Hudspeth Hall 121
Phone: 915-747-6059 

I am associate professor of English Education and the council historian for the National Council of Teachers of English. I received my Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning from New York University in 2005, where I was trained in both English education and education history methods. My book Uncivil Rights: Teachers, Unions, and Race in the Battle for School Equity (University of Chicago Press, 2012) won the AERA New Scholar’s Book Award in 2013. Currently I am working on a book manuscript entitled Educating the Enemy: Teaching Germans and Mexicans in the Cold War Borderlands. In it, I analyze the public school experiences of Mexican American children and the children of Nazi scientists relocated to El Paso in 1946. My work has been published in journals that include English Education, History of Education Quarterly, and Research in the Teaching of English. I also write a blog for the NCTE that examines the history of teaching English. I am grateful to have been awarded support from the Spencer Foundation, the Rockefeller Archives Center, the American Federation of Teachers, the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library, and the University of Texas at El Paso.

My research and teaching focus on teachers’ professional development and teacher quality, education equity, schooling and citizenship, and school reform discourse and policies. I teach courses on English teaching methods for pre-service teachers and graduate seminars on inquiry-based teaching, education and the media, and education history. I directed the West Texas Writing Project, a branch of the National Writing Project, from 2005 to 2011.

Keith PoletteKeith Polette
Ph.D, St. Louis University


Office: Hudspeth Hall 216
Phone: 915-747-5123 

The pursuit of my B.A. in English from Central Methodist University in Missouri motivated me to want to become a lifelong learner. As such, I continued my education, and I received an M.A. in English and an M.A. in Drama from Idaho State University. Before pursuing and completing my Ph.D. in English at St. Louis University, I worked as a theatrical lighting designer, technical director, a stage director, and an English teacher. In 2005, I received The University of Texas System Chancellor’s Council Outstanding Teaching Award, was named an Outstanding CeTaL Fellow, UTEP’s Center for Effective Teaching & Learning, and was also named Outstanding Texas Author. I’ve also published over 30 articles in journals and magazines and 3 chapters in scholarly books. I most recently co-edited and contributed to Perpetual Adolescence: Jungian Analyses of American Media, Literature, and Pop Culture.

 R. Joseph Rodriguez
R. Joseph Rodriguez
Ph.D, University of Connecticut

Assistant Professor

Office: Hudspeth Hall 119
Phone: 915-747-6258
Email: rjrodriguez6@utep.edu 

Languages, literacies, and educators opened many worlds, dreams, and opportunities for me. Each of these influences my learning, journey, teaching, and success. I earned my bachelor’s degree (1997) from Kenyon College, a small liberal arts institution in the rural quiet of Ohio. My master’s degree (1999) is in English from The University of Texas at Austin, while my Ph.D. (2001) is from The University of Connecticut, Neag School of Education. I have taught English and Spanish language arts and held a variety of teaching and administrative positions in public schools and higher education.

My literacy and education research focuses on classroom and social contexts that inform students’ learning gains through culturally responsive teaching and socially responsible biliteracies. Moreover, I am interested in how students use their Spanish heritage language to make meaning and form identities through diverse literacies across the disciplines and with learning technologies. Additional research interests include academic writing, multimodal literacies, and children’s and young adult literatures.

My research has been published in journals such as English Journal, English Leadership Quarterly, English in Texas, SIGNAL Journal, and Voices from the Middle, among other periodicals. Book chapters appear in The Critical Merits of Young Adult Literature: Coming of Age (Routledge, 2014), Democracy and Decency: What Does Education Have to Do with It? (2015), and Exploring Teachers in Fiction and Film: Saviors, Scapegoats, and Schoolmarms (2016), among others. Additional research projects are in development or press for publication in journals and edited books as well two book manuscripts: Enacting Adolescent Literacies across Communities: Scribes and Their Rites (Lexington Books, 2016) and Adolescents Coming of Age in Young Adult Literature: ‘When I’m Grown’ (2017).

In my work, I support literacy education and research as well as family literacy in the academy, schools, and civic communities. I am a reader of diverse U.S. and world literatures. When I am not reading, teaching, or writing, I enjoy cooking, hiking, kayaking, storytelling, and traveling. Currently, I am active member of the National Council of Teachers of English and our state affiliate the Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts. Indeed, I am motivated by the zest of teaching and learning, and I enjoy working with colleagues and students in literacy education and research.   

Dr. Jonna Perillo presented "Neither Cowboy nor Indian: Social Studies Education and Mexican American Students in the Postwar Borderlands" at the History of Education Society conference in Providence, RI, November 3-6. She also chaired the History of Education Society Essay Prize Committee.

Pamela Herron was a discussant at the 12th Annual ABC Conference on October 15th at UTEP for Matt De La Pena's book Last Stop on Market Street. She also presented "Educating the Educators: How much do our nation's teachers know about world culture?" She was also a participating author featuring her poetry collection En L'air at the 8th Annual EPCC Literary Fiesta on November 5th at El Paso Community College.

Dr. R. Joseph Rodríguez and Lisa M. López-Williamson, a librarian at Herrera Elementary School, were awarded the inaugural President's Meritorious Service Award for their work with UTEP Little Free Libraries across El Paso.

Dr. R. Joseph Rodríguez published "'The Poem Is Evidence of Hope': A Conversation with José Antonio Rodgríguez" in Paterson Literary Review (2016-2017), p. 287-296.


The English Department's End-of-Semester Reception will be held May 4, 2017 from 3:00-4:30 PM in the Geology Reading Room.

Dr. Patricia Witherspoon, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, will be giving her Dean's Legacy Lecture, "Taking a Stand for the Liberal Arts," at 5:00 PM in the Tomas Rivera Conference Center of the Union on May 4, 2017.