Carmen Leigh Scoggins
2009 Hall of Fame Nominee
Watauga High School
2009 Finalist from SCOLT
I was a senior in high school when I first went to Mexico. Maybe it was the smell of Mexico City; the sight of the Pirámide del Sol; or the sound of the mariachi band; but my life forever changed.
As a non-native speaker of Spanish, I understand the frustrations and needs of my students. By creating a comfortable environment, students are more inclined to interact with a variety of activities that include frequent listening practice for native speakers, one-on-one questions, interviews, and visuals while focusing on what they know and are able to do to be successful.
I challenge students to explore how Spanish can be useful in their own lives and I provide opportunities for them to see Spanish as an asset rather than just a graduation requirement. Since there is little diversity in my district, I encourage students to explore other cultures, to ponder differences, and to dispel stereotypes. My students hear different accents, observe young people in Spanish-speaking countries, and experience literature that exemplify other cultures. This exposure transports them beyond the boundaries of their community and helps them become more open to different experiences, though processes, and the human condition. When students make comparisons, compassion, empathy, and acceptance can occur.
I want those around me to feel my passion for language and compassion for others. I want my students to learn to think for themselves. Most of all, I want them to have an epiphany as I did at eighteen- to learn there is so much to experience and that languages are the key to embracing differences and making connections to communities and the global world in which we live.