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avatar for Sarah Mortensen

Sarah Mortensen

Spokane Community College
ESL Instructor
Valley Center
My name is Sarah Mortensen. I am an English language instructor for adult immigrants and refugees at Spokane Community college. I have been working at the Valley Center, which is an offsite location for the college. I was provided with a collection of readers for my students, and I was charged with implementing an extensive reading program at the center. I was skeptical at the beginning about whether it would be successful. I was surprised to find that the students exceeding my expectations in reading and made enormous progress in their reading skills. I am going to share what I learned implementing this program at my center. I will share my successes and failures in implementing it. I have been working at SCC since 2011. I started out as a volunteer, helping teachers in the evening. I discovered I loved the challenge of teaching a language, and was profoundly moved by the courage of the students to pursue learning. I quickly became a substitute teacher thanks to faculty seeing my skills in educating. I decided to go back to college and received my Masters of Education in English as a Second Language. I decided I wanted to become as adult educator as I want all students to achieve their potential and accomplish their academic goals. I have been teaching beginning to advanced ESL classes for almost 5 years. I have taught GED classes at Next Generation Zone for young people with a variety of challenging situations. I also taught technology classes for the Career Transitions program at SCC. All these experiences helped me to become a strong ESL and adult basic educator. I value coming alongside students in their education journey. I see my role as a facilitator and encourager. I am constantly learning more and more about best practices and how to motivate students toward success. I am thankful to have had opportunity to teach at a place I can support students in a holistic way. It is very common for people to find me sitting with students talking about their problems over a cup of tea. Or helping a student struggling with homelessness or drug addiction find support and services to help them be successful in school. Or you would see me take extra time to tutor a student after class, so they can pass their written driving test or food handlers license. I regularly counsel students and guide students so they can get what they need to be successful. I serve my students because I believe in them and I see their potential for success. Simply, I care. I love my job and what I do. What I do makes a difference and it's special when you can find a job you love that makes a difference and utilizes your best talents. I hope to share a piece of this passion at the conference as you see my presentation. More than anything, I desire that the teachers I meet today will be encouraged, motivated and ignited in their profession to serve their students in a new and innovative way. I am thankful to be apart of all the professionals here at the conference.
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