Emma Pedrin, Spanish teacher at Colchester High School
When did you realize you wanted to teach?
I didn’t really have that realization moment, actually. I sort of fell into teaching by accident. In the summer of 2010, I received a call from my old district that they desperately needed a teacher who could speak Spanish. Two weeks later, I moved home from DC without a license or any experience and jumped into my first classroom. After three years, I left and went to nursing school which is where I realized--wait, I really do love teaching! So I guess it took leaving to figure out how much I enjoy it.
If you weren’t a teacher, what would you do instead?
If I weren’t teaching, I would be working in the medical field, most likely in public health. My undergraduate degree and passion area is medical sociology and epidemiology. I love to study how disease works and when and why it impacts different demographics.
What’s your favorite aspect of teaching?
My favorite aspect of teaching is watching kids have their “a-ha” or “lightbulb moments” in class and the smile and confidence that follows. When students are able to converse, even with a few short sentences in Spanish, they are thrilled! I also love that my content allows for dancing every day in class, what could be better?
What is your favorite book?
That is too hard to answer! Academic book? Pathologies of Power by Paul Farmer (this was a life-changer.) Pleasure book? Something cheesy like Eligible, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, by Curtis Sittenfeld. Book related to my discipline? Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. I can’t believe it took 8 years of teaching Spanish to read it!
Picture book? Snuggle Piggy and the Magic Blanket. Read it.
What would your students be surprised to learn about you?
My students may be surprised to learn that I very much dislike speaking in front of groups of my peers. I will talk in front of students, or dance before a big crowd without any problem, but public speaking makes me really nervous!
What is your favorite guilty pleasure meal or dessert?
My mom’s macaroni and cheese that she makes for sister and me on the first day of school (still!)
Describe a moment when you really connected with a student.
A few years ago, a student came to me and to my class and shared something deeply personal. It took me by complete surprise, but as I look back now I am astounded by her bravery. I am honored that in that moment, my classroom served as a safe space for students to share and feel respected.
What is a difficult aspect of teaching?
When I design what I think is going to be an engaging lesson and then find out that my students aren’t into it at all! It kind of takes the wind out of my sails, but also encourages me to keep trying new things, because nothing beats having an excited, engaged classroom of students.
What song do you know all of the lyrics to?
How about all of the lyrics to an entire album? Graceland by Paul Simon, my favorite music of all time that I have been listening to with my dad since I was born.
What current trends among your students are baffling to you and why?
Truthfully, the vaping absolutely baffles me! Growing up and going to school in the 1990s, there was such a strong anti-smoking campaign that very few of my classmates ever smoked cigarettes. Now, to see kids using nicotine in this way, when we all know it’s dangers is astounding. Props to CHS for always working on the most effective ways to address it.
What makes you proud to work in the Colchester School District?
Our school spirit, no question! We have such a tremendous amount of Laker pride here at CHS. Our students and teachers are involved in all sorts of activities and are always supporting each other and cheering each other on!