For the next few months, get to know your SCFLTA board. Each month we will introduce board members! This month, SCFLTA would like to introduce you to Dr. Jeremy Patterson and Dr. Stephanie Madison!
What level and language/s do/did you teach?
I taught high school Spanish for ten years. Now I work in Clemson University College of Education as a project manager and adjunct faculty in the Literacy, Language, and Culture program.
What made you want to be a language teacher?
I thought I wanted to be a medical interpreter and got my teaching license as a backup plan. Well, turns out my backup plan became my passion, and I am thrilled to continue working in education!
What has been the most rewarding part of your job?
I always say that if we take care of our teachers, they will take care of our students. In my role as a project manager and as adjunct faculty, I work with teachers across South Carolina every day. Hearing stories of success is the very best part.
What advice would you give to a new teacher?
My advice to a new teacher would be to find your teacher friends and support network. Mentors are the unsung heroes of the profession. These people are your greatest source of information, guidance, and feedback, especially with difficult situations.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing world language teachers today?
The biggest challenge facing world language teachers is finding joy when the public education conversation remains negative. I think world language classrooms are unique spaces for students to learn through interaction with others, fostering human connection that has been lacking in recent years. These are spaces that center humanity. When people outside of education go to social media to rant and rave about public education, I always suggest they sign up to be a substitute teacher to be part of the solution. We know that teachers continue to provide a warm, kind, and inviting space for students, no matter what anyone else is saying.
How did you get involved with SCFLTA?
I got involved in SCFLTA a few years into my teaching career. I had been teaching in North Carolina and was involved with FLANC, so when I moved back to South Carolina, I was excited to work with another organization.
What role do you play in the organization?
I am the SCFLTA Upstate Representative. Being at Clemson, I travel around the Upstate area quite a bit. My goal is to encourage teachers to attend SCFLTA conferences and get involved with a supportive community of language teachers.
What has SCFLTA meant to you over your career?
SCFLTA has impacted my life in so many ways! For example, when I was working on a research project, I had friends I could call to get input and ask to be participants. Connections are everything and having a network of support makes all the difference.
What do you see SCFLTA doing for the profession in the future?
I hope SCFLTA continues to work with SC universities to recruit new world language teachers out of high school in addition to being the focal point of the SC world language community. Even if we only see our teacher friends from across the state once a year at SCFLTA or SCOLT or ACTFL, these are life-long friends and time together is so impactful.
What is one non-teaching related fact about you?
I have a new co-edited book out! It is called Flying Kites: Narratives of Prison Literacies in Essays and Art. I worked with a colleague on a chapter about literacies in immigrant detention centers, a space in which educational services could be transformational.