Interview with Terry Martin
Elementary Spanish Teacher
GC Graduation Year
Why or how did you choose your field? Were there specific experiences that influenced you?
This is an easy one to answer. My SST experience was the most significant factor in my decision to major in Spanish education. I loved the Costa Rican culture and learning and speaking Spanish, and I knew I wanted to pass that love of the Spanish language and cultures on through my role as a Spanish teacher.
What’s exciting about your job or this field?
I teach elementary Spanish. One of the most exciting aspects of my job is seeing my students’ enthusiasm for learning something specific in Spanish, like how to say “I’m really really really really hungry.” Finding opportunities for collaborating with other foreign language teachers is always exciting as well.
What has been a challenge in your career journey?
Teacher licensing has been a challenge. Originally, I was licensed in Spanish for grades 5-12 , and then switched to teaching K-4 Spanish at a private school. When I moved back to public schools, I had the experience to be the best candidate for my current position, but lacked the proper licensure. It took perseverance to finally gain my all grades licensure.
Classroom management is also something that requires ongoing learning and refining.
Looking back, would you do anything differently?
Not necessarily. My first teaching position was incredibly difficult and nearly caused me to give up teaching. However, it was a learning experience and gives me a point of reference to see how far I’ve come as a teacher.
How did your liberal arts education assist you in your journey? Are there specific examples you can offer?
I worked for ten months in Ecuador as a home school tutor for the four daughters of a missionary family. My liberal arts education provided me with a wide knowledge base to draw from as I worked with them in a wide variety of subject areas like science, math, social studies, English, etc.
Did anyone offer you some memorable advice that you’d like to pass on? Or…what advice would you give to a young person just starting out?
If at first you find yourself struggling in your chosen field, don’t give up. By all means, continue exploring the different niches within your field. In my case, I started out teaching high school Spanish and found that I much prefer teaching elementary Spanish. Sometimes low paid jobs (or even volunteer positions) will give you an opportunity to develop new skills and explore new areas within your field.