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. Rocio Zalba and Cristain Ugro!
What is your name?
What level and language/s do/did you teach?
I currently teach Latin 1-AP and Ancient Greek. In the past, I have also taught French.
What made you want to be a language teacher?
I grew up in communist Romania, where access to information about the outside world was strictly limited and censored. Learning other languages was the only way I could learn about other places, so my first reason was practical. Little by little, that turned into a love for languages, for how they function, and for how they broaden one’s horizon. Lastly, once I realized I was reasonably competent in several languages, it seemed like a pity not to share that with young people.
What has been the most rewarding part of your job?
Without a doubt, spending time with my students: they keep my on my toes, and they provide endless opportunities for amusement.
What advice would you give to a new teacher?
To stick with it: teaching is as much a vocation as it is a skill. The more you learn the tools of the trade, the easier and more rewarding it becomes.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing world language teachers today?
One challenge that is not limited to world language teachers is dealing with the effects of the most recent pandemic. One specific to world language teachers is that many districts, although thankfully not all, do not value world language teaching beyond token statements and actions, and lack an overarching vision for the advancement of the teaching, and benefits thereof, of languages.
How did you get involved with SCFLTA?
I learned about SCFLTA when I attended a conference in the early 2000s. Since then, I became more involved and eventually became part of the board in 2012.
What role do you play in the organization?
I am a member of the board by virtue of being the president of the SC Classical Association.
What has SCFLTA meant to you over your career?
SCFLTA, more specifically its meetings and conferences, has allowed me to meet and become friends with like-minded teachers from across the state. It has been a very rewarding experience, and I recommend it to all language teachers in the state.
What do you see SCFLTA doing for the profession in the future?
SCFLTA will continue to advocate for world-language-related initiatives across the state, and to represent SC on the regional and national level.
What is one non-teaching related fact about you?
My love of, and relative competency in, languages has allowed me to live and work (well, teach, so not quite non-teaching related) in three countries other than my native one.