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Meet Carolyn

Carolyn Marciniec is a junior at Roanoke College. She is a Literary Studies Major and Education minor. She is from Salem, VA, and in her free time, she enjoys studying languages, listening to music, reading, and spending time with her friends.

Carolyn knew she wanted to teach for a long time. She grew up wanting to be a math teacher, but also liked English. She’s always been interested in other cultures, so teaching English feels more meaningful to her than math or other subjects. Her best friend in highschool was an English learner, and Carolyn says seeing her friends’ skills develop and the opportunities learning English offered her made Carolyn want to help others achieve the same. Carolyn was an intern at Blue Ridge Literacy over the summer of 2017, and claims that her time there solidified her desire to teach English.

Carolyn was surprised by her freedom at Blue Ridge Literacy. She’d done an education related internship before her time at BRL, but had not been allotted the responsibility and control she had here. At BRL, Carolyn taught her own class during the day, and started a journal project with her learners in order to help them develop a relationship with writing that meant something to them. Her time at BRL helped her grow as a teacher because it allowed her to incorporate a lot of what she’s learned at Roanoke College, and helped her discover what worked the best for her in the classroom.

Carolyn described her biggest challenge while working at BRL as the differentiation of lessons. In the beginning of her time here, her class was divided in two. She taught one half, and another teacher taught the other. However, towards the end of the class, Carolyn became responsible for both halves of the class. She had to learn how to manage going from designing a lesson plan that fit her half to one that included a wider and more diverse range of learners needs and skill levels.

The best part of working at BRL, she claimed, was the learners themselves. “The thing I don’t get from studying education theory, even though it’s necessary, is developing relationships with learners” she said. “I was so sad when I stopped teaching classes over the summer!”

Throughout her time at BRL, one day in particular that stood out to Carolyn. She was teaching a class on adjectives, and had created a museum walk activity with nick-nacks from her house so learners could practice using some of their vocabulary words. There was a learner who didn’t talk much, but that day there was a moment where she picked up a wooden turtle and very quietly said “We eat turtles in my country.” Carolyn knew this was moment that could have gone either direction: other learners could have treated her statement with disgust, but instead they showed interest and gave her an opportunity to celebrate using her new English skills to communicate with them.

This summer, Carolyn is getting certified to teach ESOL and Secondary English. She is also going to do research on education defectors- people who have escaped North Korea into South Korea, and study how they’ve assimilated. After graduation, she plans to teach abroad in Japan or South Korea for a few years, before returning to the United States and teaching here.

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