MEmber of the Month:

HIlary Lawch


EL Teacher


FRederick County PUblic Schools

Years Involved in/Teaching ESL?

going on my 5th year!

Why did you become an ESOL teacher?

My interest in ESOL was sparked by a summer where I lived in Honduras teaching English. That experience opened my eyes to the background many of my students come from, as well as the inequities that exist in language acquisition, particularly when we think about the dominance English language has on the world and why. I saw how for many English learner communities, language acquisition was a means for a new life, and that new life would present many systemic challenges as they faced acclimating to a new culture, home, job etc. An ESOL teacher is there to guide students and their families through these things as well, as they are very much a part of the language journey.

What other jobs or careers did you have before landing in TESOL?

I worked as an assistant teacher for students on the spectrum in a specialized program, implementing behavior and IEP plans. I also worked in a children's book store, where I had fun test-reading lots of YA fiction and storybooks!

What do you love about your career?

I love that TESOL is a marriage between linguistics and person-facing care. I get to consider the science of SLA while also getting to know my students and their families.There's so many pieces to consider when planning instruction, and it can be a really fun challenge to try to find creative ways to scaffold language successfully. I love that I get to collaborate with my colleagues to piece these ideas together, and celebrate as a team when we see progress in a student.

Who or what inspires you?

My older brother Taylor and my Mom and Dad! I'm fortunate to have a patient family who has always given me critical feedback and room to grow. Having grown up with that has made me want to provide the same environment as a teacher, and the success I feel thanks to those relationships is one I want to emulate for my students.

What has been your greatest accomplishment (so far)?

Diving deep into the world of math teaching! I struggled with math growing up due to learning disabilities and math seemed like something I would never be able to access. I feel really lucky that my colleagues at Orchard Grove took time to unpack standards with me and show me great strategies to not only make me comfortable teaching math, but embracing it for myself. I'm a math nerd now and there's no going back!

What goals do you have for the future?

My dream is to help contribute to language acquisition research. I want to become a speech pathologist and use my background in K-12 education and ESOL to help create more equitable access to language acquisition tools and practices.

What is your favorite part about teaching?

I really enjoy that I work in a field that requires me to be a student on a daily basis. I have fun learning from my colleagues and stretching outside of my comfort area into subjects that may not have sparked my interest otherwise. I love my kiddos at school, they make me laugh and make me a more gentle, kind person.

Training teachers is like _____.

Training teachers is like a friendship because you want to support and challenge each other to do better, but also give each other time to grow. Good teacher training is a reciprocal dynamic where trainer and trainee both walk away with new knowledge and confidence.

The three things I always keep in my desk/have in my teaching bag are:

Dunkin Donuts cups, The "Adult Prize Box" for my coworkers (Full of chocolate, hand lotion, ibuprofen when you need it!) and stickers! Never underestimate the motivating power of a cool sticker!

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