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Alumni Stories

9th Grade English Teacher

Amber Bergeron
The Churchill School and Center, Manhattan, NY

January 2009 - Someone told me once that elementary school teachers become educators for the kids, and that high school educators teach for the love of their subject. Although I only partially agree with this statement, I have to say that my passion for English and literature has always given me the desire to share my love for the subject with others.

New York City is an amazing place to teach- the high school kids in my classroom are as diverse as they come—they come from different cultural and religious backgrounds, they have varying political beliefs (which they share freely), and they can speak a variety of languages. There is, however, one thing all of my students have in common— they all have various types of learning disabilities.

At The Churchill School and Center, being a teacher is a unique experience—there is no dictated curriculum, and one major goal—to be sure that these students pass their state exams, as they are expected to be on par with students in all New York state public schools. A love of English and literature is imperative—the attention spans and other verbal and written hindrances that these students have require it. English class, for the majority of these children, can be a physical and mental stress—words often don't make sense, and if they do, a lot of students cannot find the words to verbally describe what they want to say; others with dysgraphia cannot physically form letters with pen and paper, and for the most part, grammar is a non-issue in their writing—something they may never fully grasp. Because of all of these struggles, "teaching to the curriculum" is a phrase never uttered; instead we teach to the students.

Coming to Churchill forced me, someone who naturally excelled in English and thoroughly enjoyed her time sharing that love with other Sigma Tau members, to think outside the box, as the cliche goes. Putting aside my inner grammar-snob has been a difficult task, but a challenge I am thoroughly enjoying. Howard Thurman once said, "don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive."

The classroom makes me come alive. My students are some of the smartest, wittiest kids I have ever met and I am proud to have the opportunity and the challenge to put to use all of the skills I learned at Keene State College, and the passion I was able to develop through Sigma Tau Delta. It is my goal to help these children find their passion-in English, or otherwise-and to help them come alive.

Amber Bergeron is a 2007 graduate of Keene State College. Originally from Nashua, NH, she is currently living in Queens, NY. During the school year Amber is a 9th grade English teacher at The Churchill School and Center and spends her free time preparing to run a summer camp, Camp Vision, which she co-founded three years ago. Camp Vision is for students ages 10-14 with various types of learning disabilities, and is held at Keene State College in Keene, NH as well as Hobart and William Smith in Geneva, NY.