Katie Schenkkan Class of 2006
Idistinctly remember being asked many times during my four years of under- grad at UCLA if I planned to become a teacher, since I was majoring in history. I bristled at the question, not because I was opposed to it, but because of the presumption implicit in the question – without a degree in, say, business or economics, what kind of job would I be able to have? The idea that I’d only go
into teaching because I had no other choice
is the type of assumption that goes along with
that dreadful and erroneous saying, “Those
who can’t do, teach.” The wonderful teachers
I had at French American and International
have shown me through their expertise, passion, and support that this is patently untrue.
And it is because of them that I have decided
to join them in this extraordinarily challenging and rewarding profession.
In May of 2012, I received my M.A. in
Teaching from the University of San Francisco. The highlight of my time at USF was
undoubtedly the two weeks I spent teaching at the Sacred Heart Primary School in
Dangriga, Belize in January 2011. Eight
undergraduate and graduate students took
part in the Project Learn Belize teacher assistant program, led by a dedicated professor,
Father Dillon, known fondly to the people
of Dangriga as, “Fada dee dee.” It was an
incredibly eye-opening experience for me.
I was working with groups of twenty-five to
thirty students who had, for the most part,
never taken part in a real lesson before – and
I had never taught one before, either! By the
end of the two weeks, we had become more
familiar with the beautiful – yet often incomprehensible – pidgin English spoken by most
of the people in the city, and really learned to
love the place. I can’t wait to go back.
This experience, brief as it was, was
enough to turn my musings about teaching
abroad into concrete plans, and my opportunity came along sooner than I expected.
This past July, I uprooted my comfortable life
in California and moved to bustling Bogotá,
Colombia to teach high school English at
Gimnasio Vermont, an International Baccalaureate school. I am thoroughly enjoying
my first year of full-time teaching so far, and
am absorbing the language and culture more
and more every day. I find that I am so much
more comfortable in a bilingual school environment than in a single-language one, and
fully credit French American for that gift.
LEFT: Katie Schenkkan, Class of 2006, rapelling off a waterfall
in Medellin, Colombia.