Spanish/English high school teacher — Belleville High School District 201 - SIU Carbondale
Explain your career path
I received my BS in Secondary Education with a double major in English and Spanish at SEMO. I graduated in 1989. I then graduated with my MA in English - Teaching of Writing from SIU Edwardsville in 1993. And then I graduated from SIU Carbondale with my PhD in Curriculum and Instruction - Teacher Leadership in 2005. Whew! I began teaching English and Spanish at Columbia HS in Columbia IL in 1989, and then I moved to Belleville West High School in Belleville, IL in 1991 where I have been ever since teaching Spanish and English.
What was your major at Southeast and how would you characterize the quality of that program to prospective students?
BS in Secondary Education with a double major in English and Spanish. I began as an elementary education major, but after a few observations in the local grade schools to fulfill a requirement in an Introduction to Education course, I knew that I would better serve older students. I always had an interest in writing, and I felt semi-confident with my ability to pick up a second language. After meeting with my counselors at SEMO, it was decided that I would pursue the BS in Secondary Education and work my way through the coursework for the double major in English and Spanish, which was a very good idea, as it made me very marketable when I graduated!
Why did you choose to attend Southeast?
My brother had lived and worked in Cape Girardeau for many years, and I was looking to get away from my home in Germantown, IL at a comfortable distance from my parents!
Who influenced you most during your time at Southeast?
I was very much influenced by accomplished instructors such as Dr. Dale Haskell in the English Dept. and Dr. Leon Book in the Foreign Languages Dept. They were hip instructors at the time and very enthusiastic about their subject matter. They thought outside the box and really ignited my passion for creativity in teaching. They saw something in me that helped me to gain the confidence I needed to be successful both academically and professionally.
Share your best college memory.
I really just enjoyed being in the classroom with my classmates. The class sizes were small, and I was able to get to know others rather comfortably. I did not take many opportunities to engage in social activities other than Spring Fling, but I do not regret this at all. I worked in the Academic Hall in the Purchasing Dept. under Teresa Bauer, and she really became like a mother to me throughout my years at SEMO. I am indebted to her as well. I also remember well sitting in Dr. Peter Hilty's classroom and just being touched by the way that he would read poetry aloud to us and sometimes have to hold back his tears because he was so swept up in the passion of the words. I gained a huge respect for literature from Dr. Hilty. Oh...and Dr. Crowley in the Foreign Languages Department. Wow...she was a hoot. Never a dull moment with her around. I can always remember her running down the hallway to call for Dr. Book..."Dr. Libro...Dr. Libroooo!" (in Spanish).
If you were in Greek Life, the Honors Program or any other student organization, please tell us about that experience and how it impacted you.
Well, I guess that would have to be my PhD. I never fathomed the idea that I could go that far in my studies. Getting my PhD has opened up many opportunities for me to teach at the university level, which I currently do for SIU Carbondale, and carry out many leadership and professional responsibilities in my school district.
What is the most important thing you learned while you were at Southeast?
College is doable, even if you have to pay for all of it on your own, which is what I did. People at SEMO do take an interest in you and want to see you succeed.
Describe Southeast in three words.
friendly affordable unforgetable
What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field?
In secondary education, I think it is important to consider multiple certifications. Having multiple endorsements opens up many opportunities for you. If you are in an area outside of the core courses (World Languages, Music, Art, PE, etc.), it is definitely worth your time to take the extra courses for endorsements in the core curriculum.