Hello! I am Connie Hanna, director of the new Intensive English Program at Western Carolina University. With the goal of attracting more international students to campus and to our community, this new program will serve non–native English speakers who wish to learn the language prior to seeking a degree at WCU or another American college or university.
I am originally from Texas and have lived in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina for 25 years. I have come to the ESL world late in my working career. For twenty years, I was involved in providing professional development for North Carolina’s public school teachers. Before that, I was an administrator and health educator for various public service agencies in Texas. In 2007, I obtained a Master’s Degree from Western Carolina University in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). I enjoyed the academic study in a field that was new to me. The most surprising part was finding so much joy in becoming a student again with a life’s worth of experience to bring to the study. I am truly a life-long learner and the learning just gets more and more fun!
Teachers of English as a Second Language must be the happiest group of teachers there are! We almost always leave our classes with an uplifted heart and a smile on our face. And why is this? Whether we're working with beginning English speakers or ESL students at the academic level, these students have such a desire to learn. We can almost always make a connection with a student or guide their learning a little farther down the path. The work is so rewarding!
In these changing times, I think teachers, at all educational levels, are in a unique position to create and foster understanding among peoples. If we create in our own classrooms an atmosphere where students can get to know one another and learn together amidst all their differences, we are giving them a real experience of community that they can take with them into the world. I enjoy meeting my new students from around the world.