"...I realized that my role as a teacher would allow me to serve others, work with youth, and inspire others to appreciate Spanish..."
Alumnus: Tyler Petrini, '08
Program of Study: Secondary Education Program
Current position: Spanish teacher at Howard High School in Maryland
Although I began my career at Calvin College with an interest in Pre-Law and Spanish, I quickly cycled through a number of appealing disciplines (Psychology, Social Work, Political Science) until I arrived at Secondary Education my junior year at Calvin. I realized (late in the game) that my role as a teacher (and specifically a “Spanish” teacher) would allow me to serve others, work with youth, and inspire others to appreciate Spanish—three goals that consistently pervaded my college experience. Even at its weakest points, Calvin’s Education program was still effective, engaging, and exceptional, and I relished the opportunity to spend time with other students and faculty who shared a similar passion for educating today’s youth. Concurrently I had the pleasure of interacting with the faculty who make up the Spanish department, which is an incredibly talented and inspirational group. I enjoyed every minute of my experience at Calvin and feel that I have been adequately prepared and equipped to worship and serve God through my current profession and through the way I interact with others.
I studied in Honduras during the fall of 2006 and in Mexico during Interim of 2008. Both experiences were equally challenging and enlightening, as they presented opportunities to learn Spanish in its natural context. After having had the chance to live and interact with native Spanish speakers on a daily basis for an extended period of time, I certainly believe it is the most effective and loving way to learn a language. I learned about both a language and the people who speak it, which are inseparable components of a culture.
Looking for a job was a grueling process, even with all of the resources Calvin’s Career Development Office offers and even after engaging in a tremendous amount of practice and preparation. I attended each and every job fair; I sent my resume and credentials to over 50 districts; and I pored over lists and lists of prospective employers, both local and in other parts of the country. I did receive multiple interviews both within and outside the state—Michigan, but it was not until I interviewed in Ellicott City, Maryland in July 2008 that I received a job offer. As I had become sick of the searching and eager to start preparing for the upcoming school year, I accepted the offer and moved east.
As my principal and colleagues can confirm, I hit the ground running at the beginning of my first year of teaching, doing whatever possible to stay on top of my numerous responsibilities as a Spanish teacher. I taught Spanish 1, Spanish 2, Spanish 1 Honors, and Spanish 2 Honors to nearly 175 students (almost 30 per class), resulting in insane amounts of planning, grading, and administrative responsibilities. Fortunately I was placed in a school with a fantastic World Languages department; not only were my colleagues supportive and encouraging, but their intentional attempts at collaboration ensured a successful and strong first year. I just finished the school year last week (June 19, 2009) and was awarded the “Rookie of the Year” honor for my successes in the classroom. I feel very confident that my second year will be a vast improvement from the first, as I intend to spend even more time in the future on creating purposeful and engaging lessons that excite and inspire all students to appreciate the study of both a language and a people. God has been tremendously good to me over the past year, and I thank Him and the superb training I received at Calvin College for preparing me to succeed so far in the work force.