Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017
The TESOL Certificate Program (TCP) at Teachers College, Columbia University, is not only a tremendous opportunity for professional growth. It is also where students catch up with their life dreams, sculpt their social identities, and re-affirm their commitment to serve the community devotedly.
One of those students is Kathleen Sundt, a recent Summer 2017 TCP graduate. With a rich background in journalism and public affairs, nursing, and health education, Kathleen joined TCP to be able to assist illegal immigrants to learn English and create opportunities for their education and employment.
Kathleen approached the TESOL Certificate Program with enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. She speaks with candor of her own initial challenges and the process of growth in the Program:
“In the beginning, I freaked out a little with the academic intensity of the TESOL Certificate Program and wondered if I would be capable enough. My worries were quickly assuaged with the huge amount of support I received from everyone in the department. My goal is simple: to teach ESL to undocumented persons, and I feel equipped to take that on. The teachers tirelessly answered my questions and my mentor was incredibly observant and supportive of my student-teaching practice. The interactions with my fellow students were positive, and this was highlighted in group-work during all our classes. The on-site classes are actually microcosms of what an ideal ESL class would be, and these experiences transferred immediately to my student-teaching experience with the Community Language Program students.”
Her mentor, Frank Corva, does not spare superlatives when he talks of Kathleen as “…every teacher’s wildest dream.” In his end-of-the program mentor letter to her he wrote: “…Your wide-eyed optimism, the depth of the questions you ask, and the intricacy of your work are just a few of the things that make you such a pleasure to work with. You dove into this program almost obsessively (in a good way) and it not only kept me on my toes, it downright inspired me. Your passion is only rivaled by your intelligence and conscientiousness and it all very much moved me.”
Kathleen finished the Program with flying colors, but her story did not end there.
While she has started teaching in the NYC communities, she has kept close ties with the TESOL Certificate Program by participating in the TCP Open House events and book fairs. Most recently, she helped with the Fall 2017-2018 TCP Student Orientation and Canvas workshop and offered to communicate with the new TCP students online during this academic year.
Kathleen is only one of the outstanding individuals that join the TESOL Certificate Program every year. There are scores of others, each and every one of them with touching and inspiring life story and aspiration to share. It is these students, students like Kathleen that make us very proud of the TESOL Certificate Program and its social and academic mission.
Kathleen's end-of-program note