I first expressed a formal interest in education during my junior year at The University of Georgia when I studied equity issues in schools through my African American Studies coursework. As I talked to Black teenagers in the local community of Athens-Clarke County, I realized that many of them had modest post-graduation plans that correlated directly to the low expectations voiced by the adults in their lives. Rather than discouraging me, these experiences inspired me to offer free workshops on college admissions and financial aid opportunities to Athens-area high school students.
Upon graduating from UGA with degrees in French and African American Studies, I was awarded a Fulbright grant that allowed me to work as an English teaching assistant at a high school/community college in Aulnay-sous-Bois, France a low-income suburb of Paris with a high concentration of students of color. It was through teaching young adults in France that I truly solidified my interest in helping students imagine possibilities far beyond their local communities and realize that, in a world as interconnected as ours, global citizens are in high demand.
Since I had no formal training in education at the time, I enrolled in a master's and credential program at Stanford University, where I gained a wealth of experience in planning lessons that align with ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) and Common Core standards. I completed my year-long student teaching placement at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California with an energetic cooperating teacher who encouraged me not only to challenge my students academically, but also to challenge myself to improve and vary my practices in the classroom.
After completing my M.A. in Education, I moved five hours south to accept a teaching position in a city with significantly more Black students than the area around Stanford. For two years, I taught French I, French I Honors, French II, French II Honors, and French III as the sole French instructor on campus. Although my quirky enthusiasm for French increased student enrollment in the program, I struggled to maintain my professional footing amidst the constant barrage of multi-level grading and planning, particularly since I lacked a reliable support system of family and close friends in the area.
Therefore, I recently moved back to the Southeast, where I currently work as a the only French teacher at Porter Ridge High School in Indian Trail, North Carolina. I enjoy helping students become more proficient in the specific realm of French, but I am even more appreciative of the broader opportunities I have to help them become better readers, writers, and thinkers.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Georgia - Bachelors, French; African American Studies
Graduate Degree: Stanford University - Masters, Education (Teaching of French)
SAT Composite: 2320
SAT Math: 720
SAT Verbal: 800
SAT Writing: 800
AP Biology: 5
GRE Quantitative: 158
GRE Verbal: 163
AP Chemistry: 5
AP Calculus AB: 5
AP Calculus BC: 4
AP French: 5
AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism: 5
AP Physics C: Mechanics: 5
AP English Literature: 5
AP US History: 4
AP European History: 5
Reading, UGA football, Travel
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Under the right conditions, every student can learn. Learning will not necessarily look the same for each student or even in each class period. As a teacher, it is my responsibility to recognize and engage the varied learning styles of my students. Rather than blaming students for not meeting lesson objectives, I may need to consider adjusting the way that I present the material and/or the way that I measure their success. I believe in being flexible in my approaches without compromising on academic standards. The learning process should include enjoyable elements. When I shadowed a student through her entire school day I concluded that tediousness was a major impediment to her success. Most of her classes involved sitting and listening for the entire block period, which resulted in very little content mastery. While I do think that lectures and note-taking have their place in the classroom, I also value cooperative tasks and review games that allow students to talk, move, and laugh in class. Course material should connect to students' current and future life experiences. Students are significantly more invested in a lesson if they can see its relevance to their personal interests and/or post-secondary plans. In terms of interests, students appreciate it when I incorporate specific sentences about them into grammar lessons rather than using generic examples from the textbook. As far as post-secondary plans are concerned, I often remind students about the broader applications of the literacy and communication skills that they practice in our class. Teachers should model the level of engagement that they expect from their students. While it would not be appropriate for me to build close friendships with my students, it is my duty to present myself as a normal, flawed human being so that they can relate to me. The main reason my students feel comfortable chanting verb conjugations and performing skits is that they see me sacrificing my dignity for the sake of their learning on a regular basis. I believe that students are more motivated to perform at a high level when they view me not only as an authority figure but also as a role model. In the world language classroom, students should learn about communities outside of their own. Along with teaching French vocabulary and grammar, I believe in addressing geography, history, culture, and current events that will expand students' knowledge of the French-speaking world. Sometimes students - and parents - forget that French is a REAL language that is currently spoken by millions of people in over 50 countries. Students particularly enjoy my personal anecdotes about the experiences I have had in five French-speaking countries: France, Benin, Canada, Morocco, and Haiti.