Kerry Soo Von Esch, PhD

PhD, Language, Literacy and Culture, University of Washington
MEd, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), University of Maryland
BS, Biology and BA equivalence in Spanish, Bucknell University

Program Director, Educating Non-Native English Speakers (ENES)
Assistant Professor, Educating Non-Native English Speakers (ENES)

Phone: (206) 296-5771

Building/Room: Loyola 410


Dr. Von Esch is an Assistant Professor in the College of Education at Seattle University. She earned her PhD in Language, Literacy, and Culture from the University of Washington, a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University of Maryland, and a bachelor’s degree in both biology and Spanish. Prior to joining the faculty at Seattle University in 2015, Dr. Von Esch was clinical faculty at the University of Washington teaching in multiple teacher education programs and collaborating on research projects focused on integrating math/science and language. Dr. Von Esch is a former K-12 ESOL teacher and Spanish bilingual classroom teacher. She taught in public schools in Maryland and San Francisco for over 8 years before moving to Seattle to pursue her PhD at the University of Washington.

Research and Teaching Interests

Dr. Von Esch’s research, teaching, and service focus on providing more equitable educational opportunities for culturally and linguistically diverse students often referred to as “English learners (ELs).” Her research focuses on examining more deeply what rigorous teaching and learning look like for EL students in mainstream classrooms as more complex than “best practices,” and how teachers learn to become culturally and linguistically responsive educators who are able to recognize and address the social and political realities of teaching CLD students. Her current work focuses on three areas: (1) integrating language instruction into the content areas, with a current emphasis on science and math, (2) school- and classroom-embedded professional development and teacher education pedagogy,  and (3) teacher education that balances both critical and practice-based perspectives.

Dr. Von Esch’s teaching focuses on preparing teachers and educational professionals to  teach and work with their culturally and linguistically diverse students. This preparation entails developing a deep understanding of the roles culture and language play in learning, as well as the sociocultural contexts framing the students’ experiences as culturally and linguistically diverse people. Her teaching philosophy is rooted in three areas: (1) social justice and challenging inequitable systems in education; (2) sociocultural views of teacher learning that focus on the central roles that social interaction and community play in learning; and (3) Ignatian pedagogical principles that emphasize experiential learning and critical reflection. Dr. Von Esch teaches a variety of courses in the M.Ed. ENES program as well as in the College including: Cultural Development of Learners; Educating ELLs; Language, Literacy, and Culture; and Understanding English. She also teaches the Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching strand in the Masters in Teaching program.