From Learners to Leaders

Dallastown language teachers share experiences about learning and teaching a foreign language.
Spanish teacher Señora Garrett has a true passion for helping students to see the benefits to speaking another language.
Spanish teacher Señora Garrett has a true passion for helping students to see the benefits to speaking another language.
Ashley Kenny

Culture, traditions, places, people, food, and music are just some of the things you get to know about a country while learning a language. Dallastown language teachers share their experiences of going around the world while learning and teaching new languages in their early years as language learners. 

Cherrie Garrett is the head of the Spanish Department at Dallastown Area High School and teaches Spanish three, four, and AP. She was motivated to learn Spanish because of work experience in her preteen years.

“I started working when I was 12 picking fruit and there were Mexicans and Cubans and I wanted to know what they were saying,” Garrett said. 

Garrett didn’t always think about teaching a language, in fact, she never wanted to come back into the school. When she got into Indiana University of Pennsylvania she only wanted a Major in Spanish. 

In her sophomore year of college, she decided to study abroad in Valladolid, Spain. After her return, she decided to tutor people within the school and ultimately decided to change her major. 

“They needed a tutor and I signed up and I loved it and I switched my Major to Education in Spanish,” Garrett said. 

Her biggest challenge while learning Spanish was understanding and communicating with native speakers but studying abroad really helped her to be immersed in the language. 

Moving from left to right are Dallastowns administrators, special guest speakers and PA Seal of Biliteracy recipients. Dr. Doll, Senora Garrett, Joao Abreu, Jarno Ottati, Francesca Croci, Maria Ramirez, Beatrice Piatesi, Madelyn Concepcion-Perez, Billie Ramon-Maldonado, PA Secretary of Education Noe Ortega, PA Second Lady Gisele Fetterman, and Carlos Rivas. (Brannigan Stiles)

Garrett also notes the urgent need for world language teachers.

“We really need to reach out to our students here in our high school who are not studying a language to get them interested in teaching a language,” she said.

Becoming a language teacher opened many doors for Garrett and the life-changing experiences she gave to her students and staff, including French teacher Aaron Hare. 

French teacher Aaron Hare is the head of the French language department at Dallastown Area High School. He has been teaching for ten years, seven of those ten have been in Dallastown. 

Hare decided to become a French teacher after his experience in high school. He decided to join the school trip to France with his, back then, French teacher and he enjoyed the culture and language. 

“I really didn’t understand things and I didn’t see the use of it and then when I went to France I said ‘Woah, this is real and I went to France with that (French) teacher,” said Hare

He really enjoyed his high school experience with his teacher and he decided to go into the French education field after putting in a lot of effort in order to learn the French language.

Hare went and studied abroad for one year before coming back to teach. He really liked to experience the culture and the language in depth.

You’re gonna make mistakes, you can’t be afraid to make mistakes.

— Aaron Hare

Knowing several languages has opened several opportunities for him including job opportunities and connections all over the world, including Europe, North America, and South America. 

“I was literally told my first job, I was up against someone and they hired me because I knew English, French, and Spanish, so that gave me a major plus in order to get a job,” Hare said.

Many things go into learning a language like “immersing yourself” and practicing. The language teachers gave some advice to reach students who want to pursue learning a foreign language.

“Take risks, the best students are risk takers,” Garrett beamed.

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