JoAnn Hammadou-Sullivan [faculty advisor, Department of Languages]
Education; Spanish; Abroad
As thousands of immigrants and refugees are entering the U.S., and our school systems, each year, English as a second language (ESL) classes are becoming more and more necessary. As a future ESL teacher, it is crucial that I am aware of the wide variety of school environments from which they are coming. My curiosity brought me to Altamira, Dominican Republic, where I was able to experience first hand the school environment of my potential future students. Altamira is a small town located a half hour outside of Santiago, Dominican Republic. There, I was fortunate to stay with an extremely hospitable, Spanish speaking family, who help run the town's local private school, Colegio Evangélico Altamira. During my stay, I worked with the English teacher to see how their program runs, and I was able to teach English to fifth, sixth, and seventh graders. Through observing classes and teaching English at Colegio Evangélico Altamira, I developed a deeper understanding of how extreme variations are between schools from one country to the next. In making the transition from student teaching at an elementary school in Narragansett, RI to teaching at Colegio Evangélico Altamira, I personally experienced how hard it is to adjust to a completely different environment. I want to be able to make this transition as easy as possible for future students coming from their homeland to my classroom in the U.S.