Paige Putman has her eye on the prize – combining her love of foreign language and culture with teaching.
Putman transferred to Appalachian State University from Catawba Valley Community College to major in Spanish education. Friends who are Hispanic encouraged her to learn Spanish, and a CVCC instructor urged to pursue her passion for the language and teaching by earning a degree.
“I love the Spanish culture and the beauty of the language,” said Putman, who is now in Appalachian’s Master of Arts in Romance Languages program.
She chose Appalachian because of the university’s proximity to her hometown, which allows her to work weekends as an emergency medical technician (EMT) in Catawba County to pay for her education. She began working as an EMT after graduating from high school.
Working with EMT trainees as well as substituting teaching in Catawba and Caldwell counties after graduating from CVCC nudged her toward education. Previously she had considered working full time in emergency medical services.
Putman balanced her time well and maintained Dean’s List honors as an undergraduate. She tutored students in lower-level Spanish classes on campus and, through a Reich College of Education field experience, helped elementary Hispanic children learn English. She also assisted in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) classes at Appalachian.
The TESL experience should enhance her career as an educator, Putman said. “Being able to converse with the international students at Appalachian has helped me better understand their challenges, which will help my students when I begin teaching.”
Putman took advantage of the university’s study abroad offerings to enhance her classroom experiences. She studied in Madrid, Spain, for five weeks and taught English in South America through an internship arranged by the international organization AIESEC. For student teaching, she taught in Costa Rica as well as in North Carolina through Appalachian’s international student teaching program.
She praised the diversity of the faculty in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. “They come from different countries, such as Spain and Chile, and offer students different perspectives, and a diversity of culture and dialects. They are very understanding and they are there to help you,” Putman said.