B.A. In English (History Minor), Asbury University, Wilmore, KY, May 2002
As a teacher, the best thing about the International Program at Wanda No 7 High school is that it lets teachers teach. As a writing instructor, I have found it very exciting to have the opportunity to create my own classes that enable students to learn the basics of academic writing and literature in a way that is fresh and stimulating. The freedom that I have as an instructor to develop a robust, substantive, and interesting course is exciting. True, sometimes it is a challenge, but seeing a student improve their writing ability is certainly one of the most rewarding experiences I have had as a teacher.
In this program have taught three grades, 10-12, with all of my students preparing for university level study abroad at an English-speaking institution. As part of our program I get to help prepare students for what it will be like to live and study in a different culture. It is not uncommon for my students to have traveled abroad, but successfully navigating four years (or more) at a Western university is a different kind of challenge. Sharing that culture through American Culture and Oral English classes is one way to do this, but so is helping my students learn to read Western literature and develop the ability to express themselves through writing.
I have done my share of teaching in China. Much of it, especially the language center-based model, relies on fairly run of the mill textbooks of one form or another, or emphasizes certain standardized test preparation. Now, these things can be useful and even necessary, but what if you want to try something different? If you are like me you see the value of a well-rounded, liberal arts education. In fact, I am a product of a liberal arts college, so I know firsthand the value this type of education can provide. The International Program at Wanda has afforded me the chance to work with a respected high school in developing a liberal arts program that values individualized, creative instruction.
Practically speaking, what this has meant for me is that I have had the freedom to construct the classes that I've always wanted to teach. I've had great students who have shown a real interest in learning about Western culture, literature, and writing. They are learning to write sound, engaging essays, critically read fiction and poetry, give oral presentations, learn the skills of debating, and engage in collaborative and creative group writing exercises. For me, it's considerably more rewarding than other forms of teaching that I have done. I have also been fortunate to work with a supportive staff that genuinely cares for each student's performance and development. Working with other teachers that share this passion for learning is an experience that is as meaningful as it is unique.