Scully 421
Mailing Address
One University Plaza, MS 5675
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701


Lillo, S.R. and Aponte-Safe, G. (Eds.) (2019) Innovative teachers as change agents [Special Issue]. Forum for International Research in Education, 5(2). 

Lillo, S.R. (2019). In pursuit of community engagement: Unpacking the knowledge and skills associated with service-learning efforts. Journal of Research in International Education, 18(1, 3-22). 

Lillo, S.R. (2018) Acknowledging potential in pre-service teachers’ collaborative practices. Action in Teacher Education, 40(4, 391-407). 


I teach pedagogy and literacy courses in the Middle and Secondary programs, research methods in graduate programs, and introductory courses with the Tomorrow's Teacher's Learning Community


Ph. D. Education, University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Social Sciences and Comparative Education, International Education sub-division
Dissertation: "Recognizing the Complexity of Service-learning and Community Engagement Efforts: Facilitator Standpoints from International Baccalaureate Schools in Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Africa"

M.Ed. English Education, Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN
Personal focus: new literacies, multicultural education, the writing process

B.S. Child Development, English, and Deaf Education, Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN


We have great responsibilities as global citizens to engage in our local and global communities. Teachers can play pivotal roles in fostering knowledgeable, passionate, equity-minded, critically thinking, and risk-taking change makers. Through our interactions, our modeling, and our teaching approaches, we can help cultivate these qualities in our students. My experiences living and teaching overseas have intensified my enthusiasm for helping students recognize the roles they play in their local and global communities.

As a teacher educator, I love helping pre-service teachers understand their potential. I am eager to equip them with the tools and strategies they need to build safe and supportive learning communities where diverse learners can thrive.


When I began my undergraduate studies at Vanderbilt, I knew I wanted to work with young people but was not sure in which capacity. I took an education class with a field component and got hooked! Since then, I have taught everything from elementary to doctoral-level classes. I love teaching and cannot imagine a better job!


My entire adult life I have been teaching in some capacity. My first experiences in classrooms were in Nashville public schools. During my six years at Vanderbilt, while I pursued undergraduate and graduate degrees and completed teaching credentials in deaf education and secondary English, I was regularly in public elementary, middle, and high school classrooms through substitute teaching roles and university practicums. I also taught adult language learners from all over the world at Vanderbilt’s English Language Center.

Next, I transitioned overseas. For three years, I taught high school literature and writing courses at an International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), Christian boarding school. Most of my students there were ethnically Korean and had lived significant portions of their lives in other countries. Then I moved to Uganda for two years. I taught middle and high school English classes in an IBO school that served students from 65+ nations. I worked with colleagues from all over the world.

I returned to the US to pursue my doctorate and transitioned to teaching in higher education contexts. While at UCLA, I taught undergraduate writing and communication studies courses. I did research in international schools in Korea, Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Africa. After completing my degree, I taught doctoral students in the University of Southern California’s Organizational Change and Leadership Ed.D. program, continuing learners through UCLA Extension’s TESOL certificate program, and undergraduate Education Science majors at the University of California, Irvine.

I am thrilled about my newest teaching adventure here at Southeast!


I cherish the small victories—when a pre-service teacher tries a strategy successfully for the first time, when teachers entrust me with their stories, or when I’m able to advocate for change. These moments drive me as an educator and researcher!


Jeff Thompson Research Award
2019 Southeast Missouri State Faculty Research and Creative Works Grant
Apple Certified Teacher


Association of Teacher Educators
Literacy Research Association
International Literacy Association
Comparative and International Society of Education
Missouri Council of Teachers of English


We have the amazing responsibility and privilege of influencing young people’s lives. Don’t underestimate the potential of your passions, kindness, and example!

As a teacher educator, I love helping pre-service teachers understand their potential. I am eager to equip them with the tools and strategies they need to build safe and supportive learning communities where diverse learners can thrive.

Sarah Lillo, Professor