English teacher Megan Isaac mentored Honorary Scholar and Environmental and Sustainable Studies major Lucy Garcia ’23 to write a book chapter on how to teach through LGBTQIA-themed young adult novels.
Lucy Garcia ’23 is an Environmental and Sustainability Studies major. Megan Isaac is an English teacher.
How they hooked up to co-write a book chapter in a textbook for high school English teachers is an Elon story through and through.
Garcia and Isaac’s chapter, “”Felix Ever After”: A Mystery in Progress,” appears in the second edition of “Queer Adolescent Literature as a Complement to the English Language Arts Curriculum,” published earlier this year. The book serves as a resource for high school teachers who want to include contemporary young adult novels with LGBTQIA themes in teaching basic literacy and reading comprehension goals.
“The purpose of the book is not to teach LGBTQIA literature, but to teach traditional high school pedagogy and the sample material happens to be from those kinds of young adult books,” Isaac said.
The subject of their chapter, “Felix Ever After” by Kacen Callender, involves a transgender teenager trying to solve the mystery of who posted photos of him before he transitioned and sends him transphobic messages. The chapter includes pre-reading, post-reading, and ongoing activities to engage students in mystery genre reading and interpretive skills.
“‘Felix Ever After’ is clearly an excellent five-star book in every way,” Garcia said. “It’s so universal, yet its themes and centrality are so unique and new. I’m honestly glad it exists.
Garcia, an Honors Fellow who also specializes in political studies and geographic information systems, is considering a career in urban planning. So how did she come to co-write a chapter on LGBTQIA literature for young adults with an English teacher?
In her freshman year, she enrolled in Isaac’s Honors seminar, Forging Culture Through Children’s Literature, due to her interest in young adult fiction and literature in general. It turned out to be the Spring 2020 semester – with in-person instruction interrupted by COVID in March. Even still, Garcia felt so connected to the course material and to Isaac that she sought out other young adult titles with queer themes at the end of the semester.
In early fall 2020, when Isaac saw a call for chapters for a guide to teaching English using LGBTQIA young adult literature, she immediately thought of Garcia.
“She was an excellent analyzer of literature and had great insights. I knew she would bring stuff from class to research, and also knew about current high school conditions and practices,” Isaac said. “Lucy was a fantastic research partner. She’s smart and had great ideas to contribute, and when you work with such a responsible partner, it makes you a better researcher.
Because “Felix Ever After” incorporates many hints from current pop culture, Isaac and Garcia have included exercises to emphasize teaching literary hints — as well as a guide to those hints for teachers who don’t. may not be fluent in Ariana Grande or the Marvel Universe. It concludes with a glossary and a teacher’s guide to LGBTQIA resources for additional information, which Isaac credits Garcia.
“I would encourage other professors to work with students outside of their disciplines,” Isaac said. “It was my first time teaching ENG 499: Research in English with a student who didn’t have at least a minor in English. I was lucky that Lucy was willing to try something outside of her majors and minors.
Garcia says the process helped prepare her for her honors thesis research, honing her project and time management skills.
“The transition from not doing research to doing research is important,” Garcia said. “It helped me realize that research is not so important and so scary. It’s serious, but it’s also an adventure and a fun part of college life.
“I think it’s a great achievement from Elon’s teachers,” added Garcia. “It’s emblematic of the experience I had at Elon. If you contact a professor because of a common interest and want to work with them, you can get more involved. Elon has no shortage of great teachers.