|Photo courtesy of: Bridget Tait|
I met, Ms. Bridget Tait, a few weeks ago at the, School Is In, Let The Reading Begin event, in Philadelphia. I found Ms. Tait easy to talk to and knowledgeable about the literacy support so many students require.
As we spoke, it became clear she felt passionate about her work and eager to spread the word about the challenges students and teachers face in urban school settings.
I hope you find her insight as meaningful as I do.
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Hello, Bridget, and welcome to Lemon Drop Literary. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.
Thank you for having me.
Why did you become a teacher?
Because my education afforded me many opportunities. I was a foreign language major in college. As a language major, I could apply for scholarships studying abroad.
After completing my undergrad, I lived in Germany and worked as an assistant English teacher. During this time, they awarded me a full scholarship to the University of Salzburg, Austria, where I majored in German.
This time overseas impacted my life and broadened my perspective as a global citizen. This is why I am an English as a Second Language (ESOL) teacher today. I want my own students to become whatever they desire. Through education, I believe my students will reach their aspirations.
What grade do you teach?
I teach ESOL at a Kindergarten to sixth-grade school in the School District of Philadelphia.
What do you find most rewarding about teaching?
Teaching ESOL allows me to meet students from all over the world. These students are motivated and have a great desire to learn English.
What do you find most challenging about teaching?
The funding inner-city schools receive. It is not equitable. Students in inner-city schools need more support, but their schools receive less money than their suburban counterparts.
This spartan budget has a direct impact on the quality of instruction. As a result, city teachers use their own money to buy supplies for their classrooms.
How has the lack of funding in public schools affected you and your students?
A great deal. The district‘s infrastructure is falling apart. Students often learn in antiquated school buildings with leaking roofs, mold, lead paint, asbestos, and rodents.
Daily exposure to these toxins can lead to serious health problems. It‘s difficult to learn or teach under these conditions.
Public schools lack books, modern curriculum materials, and furniture. For example, a third grade Social Studies textbook lists Barack Obama as a senator in Illinois.
Public schools don‘t have libraries and broken furniture is not repaired or replaced. Teachers and students can‘t work and learn in this atmosphere.
They overcrowd public school classrooms due to staff numbers and school spacing. They should reduce class size in city schools. Students in city public schools deserve the same quality education as their suburban peers.
If you could ask politicians to do one thing to help students in our country, what would it be? Why?
As mentioned above, inner-city students deserve the same quality education their suburban peers receive. Due to unequal school funding, this is not the case.
I urge politicians to lobby for fair school funding. Their zip code should not dictate a student’s quality of education. A fair education is an innate right and should not be considered a privilege.
Do you have any advice for teachers just starting their careers?
Teachers must be flexible. They have heavy workloads, multitudinous responsibilities, and work under strenuous conditions.
Could you tell us a little about Language to Literacy?
Language to Literacy LLC, provides reading consultations and specialized reading interventions in Orton-Gillingham and the Wilson Reading System.
These multi-sensory approaches to literacy, remediation, and alternative learning services focus on students with learning differences, (preschoolers through adolescents) including those with language processing difficulties, students with dyslexia, and English Language Learners (ELLs).
Language to Literacy services students on a one-on-one and/or small group basis at local schools, in after school tutoring programs, and virtually in the Greater Philadelphia area.
Where can parents and educators find out more about you?
Parents and educators can find out more about Language to Literacy at www.languagetolit.com. We are on facebook at @language2literacyphila, twitter @lang2literacy and Instagram language2literacy.
Thank you, Bridget, for spending time with us and sharing your
experiences with The School District of Philadelphia.
We wish you and your students lots of luck and continued success!
|Photo courtesy of: Bridget Tait|