Three graduates receive Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Awards

Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Awards have been presented to SMU master of education graduate Kristen Biedermann; bachelor of music and world languages graduate Jennie Lee; and Master of Education degree graduate Adam Garnick of Philadelphia.


Adam GarnickAdam Garnick, a graduate of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, has received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award to teach next year in Budapest, Hungary.

Garnick earned a Master of Education degree in May. A native of Philadelphia, Garnick is an eighth-grade history teacher at Dallas’ E.H. Cary Middle School and a member of the Teach for America program. In Hungary, he will be teaching English with a focus on academic writing at Budapest Metropolitan University.

“My teaching along with my courses at SMU have provided a great foundation for what’s next,” Garnick said. “I feel prepared to teach at a university. I’m going to take the strategies I’ve learned in teaching English language learners to Budapest.”

At Simmons, Garnick conducted research on the “flipped classroom” as part of a technology and discourse course taught by Dara Rossi, clinical associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning. In a flipped classroom, students use classroom time for exploratory and collaborative work, and watch video lectures at home to prepare. “It’s a strategy I’ve been able to use in my classroom,” Garnick says. “I’m convinced it’s the future of education.”

Rossi said it was no surprise to her that Garnick had received a Fulbright award. “Adam’s personal commitment and effort to not only research but then also utilize best classroom practices has better prepared him to teach, and more importantly, positively impacted his students.”

Garnick said his professors’ support has had an impact. “Teaching takes time to develop,” he said. “The encouragement you receive from the professors at Simmons is incredibly important. It’s what young teachers need the most. I’ve loved my two years in Dallas, and now I feel ready to teach at the next level.”


Kristen BiedermannDALLAS (SMU) – SMU master of education graduate Kristen Biedermann has accepted a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award to spend 10 months teaching English at the University of Cauca in Popayan, Colombia, starting at the end of this summer.

In some ways, it’s the continuation of a path she discovered at SMU.

“I had an opportunity to travel to Guatemala to help one of my professors with research and professional development for Guatemalan teachers on behalf of SMU,” Biedermann says. “I learned that when people acquire more than one language, it gives them an ability to connect across cultures, which is important to me, so I’ve become passionate about helping people cross barriers through learning a second language.”

That international classroom experience – and the time she spent teaching in bilingual Dallas-area classrooms before earning her Master’s in 2016 at SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development – lit a spark in Biedermann that’s lighting the way to a bright future.

“When I come back from Colombia, I would love to go into the Ph.D. program, become a professor and do research on retention and promotion of language-minority students at the university level,” Biedermann says. “I hope to be able to work on a campus and help adult English-language-learner students succeed in higher education and conduct research that eliminates the inequities that exist at that level.”

Biedermann says she never would have discovered that passion if not for her time at SMU.

“I’m just really thankful for everyone at SMU who helped me along my way,” Biedermann says. “They supported me. I love those guys.”


Jennie LeeDALLAS (SMU) – SMU bachelor of music and world languages graduate Jennie Lee has accepted a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award to spend 10 months teaching English in Germany.

But she won’t be your typical English teacher.

Building on the interests and activities she discovered at SMU before graduating in 2016, she’ll teach English through extra-curricular activities like after-school yoga classes and singing lessons.

“I studied opera in college and got a degree in vocal performance and world languages,” says Lee, who came to SMU from a traditional conservatory prep school background and earned a place in Pi Kappa Lambda, the musical honor society at SMU.

“The thing that drew me to SMU is the ability to get conservatory style training – a super intense, really intense program where I would study arts and music – but also have the opportunity to double major, because I wanted to do that too and a lot of schools don’t offer that,” Lee adds. “That was a huge pull for me at SMU.”

Germany, which is home to one of the world’s leading-edge opera scenes, will offer a perfect place for Lee to continue her study of opera while also staying in touch with her new-found passion for world languages.

“German professor Gordon Birrell (in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences) really helped me with the Fulbright application and strongly encouraged me to pursue learning German while I was a student at SMU,” Lee says. “He would always support me and answered any questions I had with a lot of enthusiasm, so I think working with the entire world languages department really made me want to go abroad.”

For more information, see SMU's Office of National Fellowships and Awards.