Faculty - Master of Education in Literacy | Judson University Christian College


Kristy Piebenga
Dr. Kristy Piebenga
Program Director

Dr. Kristy Piebenga has been a passionate educator for over 15 years. She spent many years teaching in second, third, and fourth-grade classrooms before transitioning to the university level. She now shares her passion for literacy education with both undergraduate and graduate students. Dr. Piebenga continues to participate in local schools by working with teachers in the classroom and developing strategies for building readers and writers. Her research interests include teaching ideology, processes of literacy, and literacy as social practice.

Becca Adamitis
Professor Becca Adamitis

Professor Becca Adamitis has been a classroom teacher for the past 21 years, with 18 years spent teaching middle school English Language Arts. She is an avid reader of young adult books and a connoisseur of all things true crime on Netflix! As a graduate of the MLIT Program and a current DLIT student, Professor Adamitis is excited to be joining the incredible faculty here at Judson. Through the pursuit of her doctorate, one of Professor Adamitis' lifelong goals has been to work with pre-service and practicing teachers at the University level. Her research interests include pre-service teaching and teacher preparation programs, the adolescent learner, and best practices in the middle grades.

Karen Biggs-Tucker
Dr. Karen Biggs-Tucker

Dr. Karen Biggs-Tucker has been an elementary school teacher for 25 years working extensively in grades two and five. A graduate of Loyola University's doctoral program, Dr. Biggs-Tucker loves to share ideas with others about how to instill a love for both reading and writing in students of all ages. In her spare time she enjoys Chinese food, walks on the beach and reading books by her favorite authors. Dr. Biggs-Tucker's research interests include children's literature and literacy engagement.

Brenda Buckley-Hughes
Dr. Brenda Buckley-Hughes

Dr. Brenda Buckley-Hughes teaches with enthusiasm and energy, and she has a passion for her students' speaking success in a variety of disciplines including literacy education, theatre, and worship arts. Dr. Buckley-Hughes is the author of Introductory Speech Communication: Overcoming Obstacles, Reaching Goals. She has taught at both the undergraduate and graduate level at wide range of colleges and universities. Dr. Buckley-Hughes' research interests include public speaking, oral interpretation of literature, and fluency.

Elizabeth Gore
Dr. Elizabeth Gore

Dr. Elizabeth Gore has spent her teacher career in various elementary classrooms and is currently teaching first grade at Mackeben Elementary School in District 158. Professor Gore enjoys attending and presenting at various conferences as well as reading educational trade books. She loves to share new picture books with students and colleagues. Her research interests include social and emotional development in early childhood education, the use of picture books as an instructional tool, and classroom culture and environment.

Maribel Guerrero
Dr. Maribel Guerrero

Dr. Maribel Guerrero was an elementary dual language teacher for 11 years before starting her journey as a Learning Support Coach. Dr. Guerrero received her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Aurora University. She is passionate about collaborating with and supporting other teachers, as well as attending and presenting at local, state, and national conferences. Dr. Guerrero has also presented to parents on the subject of establishing partnerships to support our bilingualism and bilculturalism at home with an emphasis on Biliteracy.

Heather Kraus
Dr. Heather Kraus

Dr. Heather Kraus is a former middle school language arts teacher who is currently teaching 5th grade in School District 308. Dr. Kraus enjoys her time in the classroom and was honored to be one of twelve Illinois State Teacher of the Year finalists in 2014. She appreciates the opportunities to present at various conferences, sharing classroom and school literacy ideas.

Melissa Leisner
Dr. Melissa Leisner

Dr. Melissa Leisner is a seventh-grade language arts teacher at Prairie Knolls Middle School in District 301. She has presented at the local, state, and national level and published an article about conferring with adolescents during writing instruction. In November 2013, Dr. Leisner was honored to receive the National Milken Educator Award.

Tina Scruggs
Dr. Tina Scruggs

Dr. Tina Scruggs is a sixth-grade language arts teacher at Prairie Knolls Middle School in District 301. Social and emotional learning is at the forefront of her teaching philosophy. Her interests include reading young adult literature, writing poetry for adolescents, and presenting on the topic of SEL integration into curriculum. Dr. Scruggs was the recipient of the Kane County Educator of the Year Award in May 2019.

Noor Shammas
Dr. Noor Shammas

Dr. Noor Shammas is a fourth-grade teacher in School District 308 in Oswego. In addition to her time in the classroom, Dr. Shammas has presented at state and national conferences and was honored by her district as teacher of the month in December, 2015. As a graduate of Lewis University’s Instructional Technology program, she has a passion for supporting teachers’ integration of technology and literacy into their classrooms.

Megan Truax
Dr. Megan Truax

Dr. Megan Truax has taught at both the primary and middle school levels throughout her career. She enjoys spending her time attending and presenting at various local, state, and national conferences, as well as sharing her love of literacy with the staff and students with whom she works on a daily basis. Dr. Truax’s research interests include reading and writing motivation and the impact of teachers’ language on students.

Brian Tucker
Dr. Brian Tucker

Dr. Brian Tucker has taught over twenty years in elementary schools and at the undergraduate level. He is the co-author of Transforming Literacy Teaching in the Era of Higher Standards. The Illinois Reading Council honored Dr. Tucker as the "Jerry Johns Teaching Educator of the Year" in 2017. He also presents at conferences to help educators prepare students to meet the challenges of 21st-century learning. Dr. Tucker's research interests include social semiotics, meaning making, and multimodality.

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