I headed west when I went to college at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1987. As an undergraduate, I was interested in teaching high school history. However, when I was living in Lake Tahoe, CA, I answered an ad for a volunteer to teach English as a Second Language to a group of Latinos in my community. That led me to a Master’s Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language, and teaching positions in Boston, Costa Rica, Turkey, and Arizona.
In 2008, I came to Peninsula College to teach ESL to the immigrant community here. Our adult learners are hard-working, family-oriented, and grateful to be in school. Navigating a new country can be daunting, so our classroom is a safe gathering place for them, and we treat each other like a big family. They bring an amazing breadth of backgrounds to the class, and every day is a learning experience for all of us. When my students get their driver’s license, pass the citizenship test, move on to college courses, or simply blossom into confident English speakers, these are concrete achievements that we can all celebrate.
Being a part of the Peninsula College team has been fantastic as well. With so many intelligent and caring people gathered together on this beautiful campus, it has made my job even better. I have always been well supported in my department to pursue my many professional development interests, which allows me to continue to hone my teaching and enhance the learning of my students.
I’m currently working on implementing changes in the classroom that I researched while on sabbatical last year, such as more student-driven, project-based learning. One of our recent class projects was planning a camping trip in the Sol Duc with 16 students, most of whom had never been camping or to the Sol Duc. They planned menus, sleeping arrangements, and carpooling, and, since several of my students were professional cooks, it was a delicious event.