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My father retired from the military while we still lived in his last duty station in La Magdalena, Italy, a tiny little island off the coast of Sardinia. We proceeded to travel and settle in Spain, my mother’s homeland. We arrived during Christmas time, and my mother kept my siblings and I home for six months to do her best to homeschool us in Spanish, to read, write and so much more! That late summer we were being sent to school, in my case middle school, in the midst of our Spanish community. At that time there was no bilingual education, and we were the only “foreigners” that most people had ever had contact with there, much less attend their school. 

Pamela Culbertson - We Thank Teachers Blog
Me as a student.

Our mother took us to school that fateful day and she dropped us off, her all teary eyed, perhaps knowing the many challenges that were lying in wait for us. Ahh! How right she was and yet she remained strong to help us stay strong because the climb was arduous and the learning curve very steep. The challenges were many and daunting-new country, new school, new language, different culture, trying to make friends AND all of your academic subjects in another language! Some would say all the ingredients needed for a perfect storm…

And yet, in the madness of those trying times I had three teachers that were steadfast by my side, helping me learn and grow and overcome and succeed. Srta. Natividad, Srta. Mari Carmen and Srta. Tere were all part of my daily life all through middle school, helping me move beyond surviving to thriving, to love learning and the larger world I was a part of. Each of them in their own way changed my life forever, for the better. Srta. Natividad was there for all things Spanish. Srta. Mari Carmen gave me a love of culture and social sciences as well as her passion for the French language and Spanish Literature. Srta. Tere inspired me to embrace Mathematics and Science to see that there is a solution to most things, you just need to work through it-your mind will become clearer, your thought processes stronger and the solutions more apparent. My world had been thrown into turmoil, but with the help of these amazing teachers I was able to turn something chaotic into special and wonderful-a much richer and fulfilling life!

As a parent I tell my children- “Help comes in unexpected places with unexpected faces… embrace the uncertainty and the unknown-and open yourself up to new worlds of love and learning.”

¡Muchas gracias maestras queridas por apoyarme en todo y creer en mi, todos los días! #WeThankTeachers #DamosGraciasALosMaestros

My school today is now a bilingual school – how cool is that!

May 5 – 11 2019 the Pearson K-12 Learning family: employees, authors and even their kids are taking time to say thank you to teachers. Join us as #WeThankTeachers.

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Pamela Culbertson

Pamela Culbertson

World Languages Marketing Manager

Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.