2023 L&S Teaching Mentors

The L&S TA Training & Support Team is responsible for welcoming and training hundreds of new Teaching Assistants each year. Teaching Mentors are the heart of this crucial undertaking: they serve as facilitators at the annual L&S Fall TA Training event and provide mentorship throughout the semester. Those selected to be Teaching Mentors have not only a proven track record of excellence as educators, but also a strong desire to share their experience and mentor new TAs navigating their first year.

Teaching Mentors Program Details

Portrait of Megan Bruun

Megan Bruun

Teaching Department: Psychology

Megan is a Ph.D. student in the Psychology department. As an undergraduate, she began teaching at the University of Oregon, where she led Introduction to Psychology labs for other undergraduates. She continued to teach while earning her master’s degree. Here at UW-Madison, Megan has been both a teaching assistant and an instructor of record. Her favorite class to teach is Social Psychology because she loves to watch her students apply the material by detecting and observing social psychology concepts in their personal lives. In all of her teaching, she strives to empower students to lead their own learning, be critical thinkers, and build communities of support amongst each other.

headshot of Denise Oyuki Castillo

Denise Oyuki Castillo

Teaching Departments: Spanish & Portuguese; Writing Center

Denise is a Ph.D. candidate of Hispanic Literature. She is a passionate educator that has taught beginning through advanced Spanish culture and language courses for the last 10 years in New Mexico and Wisconsin. The oral traditions and folk tales from Chihuahua and New Mexico shared with her by her grandparents inspired her to become a teacher and study literature. Denise enjoys teaching language and literature and empowering students to embrace their heritage.

Portrait of Caro Cruys

Caro Cruys

Teaching Department: Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work

Caro has been teaching research methods for social work students since the summer of 2021, along with guest lecturing in courses throughout their doctoral program. Their approach to teaching centers on the student experience. Their hope is to help students connect the course materials to their lives and work, which involves ensuring that students critically understand key concepts and moving at a pace that doesn’t leave anyone behind while also attending to folks who may be familiar with the materials already. Caro asks for student feedback throughout their courses, integrating in suggestions as they can and addressing concerns immediately. They also try to clearly communicate to their students that they care about both their success in the course and their well-being. By accepting feedback from, providing feedback to, and supporting students as much as they can,  Caro and their students are better able to co-create a constructive, challenging, and (hopefully) enjoyable course experience.

Portrait of Mark Fuka

Mark Fuka

Teaching Department: Integrative Biology

Mark has been teaching for a total of 6 semesters, with his favorite class to teach being the first of two Introductory Biology laboratory sections because they are hands-on and utilize practical scientific techniques. Additionally, the class introduces students to the importance of scientific writing and communication that undoubtedly aids them in future research endeavors. Mark’s approach to teaching is to guide his students through the facilitation of learning outcomes and clear objectives. When concepts build off one another, it’s often easier to see a clear path forward and allows students to think critically about complex concepts. Mark emphasizes the importance of effective communication in class as it is vital to fostering professional relationships and inclusive science. 

Portrait of Marissa Gurtler

Marissa Gurtler

Teaching Department: Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies 

Marissa has been teaching for 10 years. She has taught middle school through undergraduate students and has enjoyed teaching a variety of subjects – Latin and composition among them. Her approach to teaching is student-centered. 

Portrait of Eric Hensley

Eric Hensley

Teaching Department: Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies

Since beginning his PhD at UW-Madison, Eric has taught Elementary Latin first and second semesters as a primary instructor, then acted as TA for two Communications B courses: The Greeks and The Romans. He is passionate about all things to do with the ancient world, so his favorite thing about teaching is to open up a new subject for students and to get them excited about it as well. Eric’s specialty is in Greek and Latin inscriptions and graffiti, so he enjoys bringing material he is working on into his classes to allow them to read something that a person actually wrote 2000 years ago. His approach to teaching is to explain concepts from the beginning while also not making them too mundane. In that way, students will not feel lost from the beginning of class and will establish a foundation to build on for the remainder of the course.

Portrait of Michael Hoffmeister

Michael Hoffmeister

Teaching Department: Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work

Michael Hoffmeister is a PhD Candidate and Teaching Faculty at the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work. He has been teaching Master of Social Work students since Fall 2019 as the instructor of record for a field-based course titled “Social Work Practice in Public Child Welfare.” Michael brings his prior social work field experience to the classroom to facilitate interactive learning for students that integrates course content with field opportunities and community connections. He capitalizes on these real-life experiences to engage students and to help them realize their full potential as learners and professionals.

Cameron Jones

Teaching Department: Statistics

Cameron has been teaching Stat 240 through the Department of Statistics for two semesters. To him, education is not just about the accumulation of knowledge, but about personal growth as well. Through teaching, Cameron hopes to make a positive contribution towards the growth of every student. It is an honor and a joy to play a part in each student’s unique journey!

Portrait of Sam Kramer

Sam Kramer

Teaching Department: Physics

Sam Kramer is a first-year physics PhD student from Waukesha, WI. He has been a teaching assistant since he arrived in Madison in the Fall 2022 semester, but he was also a teaching assistant at his undergraduate institution, Saint Louis University. These last two semesters, Same have taught Physics 202, which is a course on electricity, magnetism, and light geared towards engineering majors. Sam’s teaching style consists primarily of effectively communicating key concepts and fostering adaptability in problem solving. Students often want to take formulas and go straight to plugging in numbers, but he encourages them to take a step back and understand the conceptual foundations being applied so that the class can be open to more creative techniques when encountering new problems where formulas do not automatically work in the same way.

Portrait of Taylor Laemlli

Taylor Laemlli

Teaching Department: Sociology

Taylor Laemmli is a dissertator in the Sociology Department. She has taught a wide range of courses at UW-Madison as both a TA and lecturer, supervised undergraduate researchers, and served as the inaugural instructional peer mentor in her department. She is passionate about introducing students to the sociological imagination and guiding them through the process of developing their own ideas and research. Her research explores people’s experiences of class and inequality, and her dissertation is about the relationship between elites and the privileged professionals who are central to the production of elite status. Outside of work, Taylor enjoys reading, eating at great restaurants, and doing agility training with her enthusiastic and tireless Australian Shepherd, Loudon. 

Portrait of Justin Marquez

Justin Marquez

Teaching Department: Physics

Justin has been teaching Physics 208, an introductory E&M course, for nearly two years. They have enjoyed teaching discussions and leading labs, and specifically enjoy being challenged to constantly improve their teaching for their students. In discussion sections, Justin conducts a short lecture review, focusing on key concepts before they break students into groups for the worksheet. They check in with students during the review and group work to gauge their understanding of the material and the major hurdles they face on each topic. Justin’s favorite part about teaching is finding the best ways of explaining a concept for a student and watching them piece it all together and get an “Aha!” moment.

Portrait of Nathan Nicholson

Nathan Nicholson

Teaching Department: Mathematics

Nathan has been teaching or tutoring in some capacity for eleven years now. He loves teaching introductory proof-based courses like linear algebra, because it’s often an entirely different type of mathematics that requires his students to think in new and interesting ways. Nathan’s teaching philosophy revolves around being friendly, speaking clearly, asking effective questions, and using positive reinforcement to boost student confidence.

Portrait of Mojca Penca

Mojca Penca

Teaching Departments: English; Asian American Studies

In her four years of teaching at UW-Madison, Mojca has taught college composition courses, introductory literature courses at the English Department and the Asian American Studies Department, and worked as a Writing Center Instructor. She has particularly enjoyed teaching “Literature and Culture of Asian America” and the class on “Asian American Literary and Popular Cultures.” 

Mojca’s approach to teaching has focused on cultivating a culture of care and compassion in her classrooms as well as creating a dynamic environment built around student engagement and collaboration. She sees the classroom as a space of engagement where students not only feel welcome and respected but where participation is a co-created experience between students and the instructor. Because she recognize that active participation looks different in different academic cultures, Mojca seeks students’ input in identifying strategies that will help them engage in section activities and gain confidence. Confidence-building is key in creating a learning environment that promotes cooperation and communication. Participation is ultimately a validated behavior which she acknowledge through a combination of formal and informal feedback. When students feel confident, they help bring less confident students into the conversation. To build a supportive classroom environment and instill a sense of community, the classroom needs to be envisioned as a space of relationships and interactions. 

Portrait of William Quade

William Quade

Teaching Department: Communication Arts

William is an instructor in the Communication Arts Department specializing in Film. He has taught at UW-Madison for five years instructing classes on written communication, film production, and media studies. His favorite class he has taught is Comm Arts 355: Intro to Media Production which allows students hands-on training in basic film production practices and techniques. William’s teaching relies heavily on student interaction and feedback wherein he can adjust the rigor of his methods based on the diverse makeup of each section of students. He also approaches students as intellectual peers ready to learn and believes sensitively challenging their ideas of art, media, and film yields more successful results creatively and intellectually for all involved.   

Portrait of Guadalupe Remigio Ortega

Guadalupe Remigio Ortega

Teaching Department: English

Guadalupe is now in her 8th year of teaching including first year writing courses at California State University Fresno, first-year writing and basic writing courses at Reedley College, and first-year writing, intermediate composition, and technical writing at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her favorite class to teach so far has been English 201: Intermediate Composition. Guadalupe’s approach to teaching is student-centered with collaborative teaching and learning. Her students learn from her and one another and she learns from them. Guadalupe provides lots of opportunities for students to co-facilitate reading discussions and teach writing conventions. Her classes engage in reflective writing, revision, and self-assessment. 

Portrait of Lesley Stevenson

Lesley Stevenson

Teaching Department: Communication Arts

Lesley is a Ph.D. student in Media & Cultural Studies with four years of instruction at UW­–Madison. She has worked as a teaching assistant for introductory media production and survey courses as well as lectured “Producing for Internet TV and Video,” an upper-level summer class that merges business and production. In all her classes, Lesley prioritizes media literacy—empowering students to be more thoughtful and critical about the content they consume and create. She leverages her prior experience working in the entertainment industry as much as possible by relating learning goals to real-life experiences, inviting young, relevant guest speakers, and preparing students for the realities of media work. In doing so, Lesley hopes to contribute to a new generation of creators and executives who prioritize equity and inclusion both in front of and behind the camera. 

Portrait of Jiangjiang Wu

Jiangjiang Wu

Teaching Departments: Anthropology; SuccessWorks 

As a PhD student, Jiangjiang has worked as a teaching assistant at UW-Madison for over 8 semesters, during which she taught amazing courses such as Cultural Anthropology and Human Diversity (Anthro 104) and Communicating about Careers (INTER-LS 215). SHe enjoys promoting meaningful and thought-provoking discussions by posing questions that encourage critical thinking and active engagement. In teaching social sciences courses, Jiangjiang has found that engaging students’ life experiences is an effective way to help them comprehend abstract concepts and ideas. 

Portrait of Taiyu Ye

Taiyu Ye

Teaching Department: Statistics 

Taiyu is a 5th year PhD student in the Statistics department of UW-Madison, and he has been a TA here for 5 years! Taiyu spent four semesters teaching one of the most difficult PhD courses, STAT 709, in our department. Accuracy and conciseness are his top two values teaching a course as difficult as this. He also enjoyed talking to students to hear their needs or understandings of the course materials so that he could make the best adjustment for them. By sharing his own thoughts, understandings, and experience in learning STAT 709, Taiyu helped students get through it from year to year.