Middle School Social Studies Teacher
Name: Rebecca Coulter
Education: B.A. in Sociology, University of Illinois, Chicago 2002
Masters in Education/Bilingual Ed. Quincy University 2010
Where were you born and raised? I was born and raised in West Bend Wisconsin,which is just north of Milwaukee. It was a great place to grow up.
Position and Start Year at IAMS: Middle school Social Studies teacher, 2011
Why are you in education? I am in education because I love working with adolescents and young adults. I feel I have the ability to inspire them to achieve greater things. When I was younger, I was convinced that I was not very smart and as a result I became an underachiever in school. However, I was fortunate enough to have a few teachers, and my family, who believed in my abilities more than I did. I believe that if it weren't for the support ofthose people, who helped me see the unique qualities that I possessed, and who allowed me to focus on my strengths instead of my weaknesses, I would not be in this position today. I want to show my students that we all learn and are unique in different ways and that those qualities can take us as far as we can dream, if we learn to cultivate and expand them. I believe my life experiences have given me a world perspective that allows me to be a true global citizen. I want my students to find that same joy in knowing that one person can make a difference in this world and that life is so rich when we continue to grow and learn about others and ourselves.
What are your hobbies and interests? My main hobby is music. I love to listen to music because it inspires me to move. It helps me relax and makes me feel happy. I listen to music while doing everything. I also play the guitar and trumpet. I like playing sports and especially enjoy playing basketball and soccer. I enjoy spending time outdoors hiking, swimming, camping, and gardening, almost anything as long as I am outdoors. I also love traveling. I have been to 27 countries in the world and love experiencing and learning about other cultures.It is a definite challenge to travel to places that have different cultural norms and I enjoy crossing borders and trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B just by talking to people.
What was the last good book you read? One of my favorite books of all time is called Beyond Civilization by Daniel Quinn. I love this book because it discusses the injustices we see in this world and is critical of the class system we have setup as a society. Our "civilization" is set up as a hierarchy where the differences between the haves and the have-nots are great. I like this book because it shows us how to move forward as a people and fight for justice for all.
What are your guiding principles? I believe that one of my guiding principles is that everyone should follow their heart and do what makes them happy. Sometimes I find myself wondering if I should be doing what other women my age are doing and what society tells me I should do. Marriage, buying houses, having children, is something I feel that society expects us to do, but I'm not convinced that those things would make ME happy. I have lived my life striving to make myself a better person through learning by experience and by doing things that challenge me and make me a more knowledgeable and well-rounded person. I have not subscribed to what society's expectations are for me, but instead,what I feel my heart and spirit is calling me to do. I practice Voluntary Simplicity and do not own what others would consider essential; cars, homes, TV's etc. Because I have so few material things I am able to travel with ease by saving money and feeling the freedom to leave everything behind to follow my heart.
What profession, other than education, could you also see yourselfdoing? I hope to get the chance someday to be a park ranger. I think it would be so great to have a job where you just hike around apark and take care of it. I would also like to educate children and the public about the joys of nature. I also always thought it would be fun to be a train conductor, but I don't think that is very likely. How does one become a train conductor anyway? Is there a school for that?
Who has been the largest influence on your life? I know everybody says this, but my mother has been an extraordinary influence on my life. She has taught my siblings and I that everyone needs to do his or her part to make this world a better place. My mother spent every January of my childhood in Haiti vaccinating the people there through a program called Ventures in People. She has taken me, and all of my siblings, on medical missions with her to places like Haiti, Puerto Rico,Thailand, and most recently Nigeria, Africa. My mother is also incredibly optimistic and her positivity affects all those she comes into contact with. She is the most giving person I have ever met in my life, and I am so lucky to have had such a great role model as a mother. She taught us not to judge others, but to strive to understand them. She has also enabled us to be independent by not protecting us from making mistakes, but instead showing us how to learn from those mistakes. My siblings and I are all extremely independent and have chosen professions that make this world a better place. We owe this to the way both my mother and father have raised us.
Where did you learn Spanish? I learned Spanish by traveling and working in other countries. Before I ever traveled outside of the U.S. I worked at a restaurant here in Chicago. Many of my co-workers were Mexican and I got very frustrated at the fact that I could not communicate with them very well. I feltI was missing out on friendships by not being able to speak with them. That is when I decided that I needed to learn Spanish. So, in my Senior year of college I did a study abroad program in Costa Rica. I met many people while I was there and decided to move there to teach after I graduated. It was there that I got the basics of the language, and discovered the joy of living and learning in a different country. From there I moved to Mexico and then Argentina for other teaching positions. I told myself that I would not return to my country until I had mastered the language.
I also credit music as being one of my best teachers. I love music and have spent years of my life denying myself the luxury of listening to music in English so that I could continue to improve my Spanish. I have spent a lot of time in Colombia and therefore one of my favorite types of music in Spanish is Vallenato and Cumbia. Music has taught me better pronunciation and vocabulary.
What do you think is the greatest benefit of being bilingual? The greatest benefit is the relationships that you can develop. When you learn another language you open yourself up to so many people by being able to speak their language. I also feel that another great benefit is the ability to travel to different places with confidence. Even when I was traveling in Asia I met Spanish speakers who traveled with me for a time and we continue to be in touch. Without being able to speak Spanish, those people, who have taught me so much, would not have entered my life.