ALUMNI STORIES

The community of Oberlin SITES alumni is a tightly-knit network of professionals, educators, and graduate students who rely on each other and on the program's continued mentorship as they pursue their post-Oberlin career. 

"This program gave me a foundation in the theory and practice of language pedagogy that informs all my teaching now and will serve me as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Colombia next year. SITES has also given me the chance to form collaborative working relationships with co-teachers, helping me grow as a team member and a teacher."

Ben Gilvar-Parke '19, Environmental Studies

"SITES has been a crucial part of my college experience. It has allowed me to interact with the town of Oberlin, and also meet a lot of Oberlin students who share a passion for education like I do. The thing I enjoy most about teaching is being able to put smiles on my students' faces every time I am in the school building. I cannot imagine what my experience at Oberlin would have been like without SITES."  

John Ramsey '19, Hispanic Studies  & History

"I have learned so much and improved as a teacher immensely since my first year. Being a SITES teacher has been a gradual process of gaining an awareness of myself and my students in the classroom, gaining the confidence to earn their attention and respect, gaining the ability to craft lessons that are fun and engaging, and learning how to improvise and work with organic moments that arise in the classroom… I feel empowered with a newfound sense of confidence that I didn’t have before teaching."

Will Wickham'19, Environmental Studies

"I've made great friends through the SITES program. It has also facilitated my connection and attachment to the town of Oberlin. It is so important for students to give back in the ways that they can to this community. SITES allowed me to do just that. Because of my experience in SITES - I am a better leader, bilingual communicator, and educator. I've learned how to manage a team, work constructively with my co-teachers, and be flexible and open-minded in and outside of the classroom. SITES without a doubt helped me get a Fulbright! It is because of my experience in SITES that I not only identified my passion for education but also now have the experience necessary to feel confident post-grad teaching abroad!" 

Amanda Medendorp ‘19, Hispanic Studies & Law & Society

"SITES taught me the importance of creating a learning environment where teaching is relevant and contextualized to the students. As Coordinator of Player Programs at Major League Baseball, I use my Spanish language skills to communicate with players from Spanish-speaking countries and backgrounds, and use the lesson planning tools I learned from SITES to think critically about how to design programs that will fit the players' interests and needs. I wouldn't be where I am today without the teaching and language experience I gained from my time with the SITES program (and Kim)!."

Lilah Drafts-Johnson '18, Latin American Studies & Politics

""I have gained so much experience as a teacher and have a new perspective on how languages can be taught in such fun, interactive ways.""  

Sydney Garvis ‘18, Geology & Hispanic Studies

"SITES taught me that teaching was a perfect way to combine my love of language, singing, and acting. SITES was also integral in helping me choose the age group that I enjoyed most. I went on to pursue a Primary Years Montessori teaching certification and a Master of Arts in Education. I am completing my seventh year as a Montessori guide for children ages 3 to 6 in Washington, DC."

Itzel Mejia- Menendez '10, Latin American Studies & History

"One of my favorite SITES lessons I taught was when I brought a stethoscope to class and had the kids pretend to be doctors and patients; the kids were really engaged, and it united my interests in medicine, Spanish, and working with kids. I’m now a second year medical student hoping to specialize in pediatrics, and I spend my free time volunteering at Puentes de Salud, a clinic that serves the undocumented Latinx immigrant community in southern Philadelphia and runs an afterschool education program at a local elementary school. SITES gave me invaluable experience that will make me a better doctor."  

Ursula Parlin '15, Hispanic Studies & Pre-med

"One of my favorite SITES lessons I taught was when I brought a stethoscope to class and had the kids pretend to be doctors and patients; the kids were really engaged, and it united my interests in medicine, Spanish, and working with kids. I’m now a second year medical student hoping to specialize in pediatrics, and I spend my free time volunteering at Puentes de Salud, a clinic that serves the undocumented Latinx immigrant community in southern Philadelphia and runs an afterschool education program at a local elementary school. SITES gave me invaluable experience that will make me a better doctor."  

Ursula Parlin '15, Hispanic Studies & Pre-med

"As the Manager of Instruction for the Fab Foundation in Boston, MA, my primary role is developing and delivering curriculum for the middle school mobile fabrication laboratory. While attending Oberlin, my experience with SITES was my first organized venture into the field of education. The SITES program afforded me the opportunity to practice applicable skills in planning, teaching, and reflecting which I continue to employ in my career. Today, my work creates access for students to engage in hands-on, interactive educational experiences all of which I learned as a member of the SITES program. "

Aidan Mullaney '14, Neuroscience

"I went on after Oberlin to get my Masters in Early Childhood Teaching and jumped right into the classroom full-time. I've been teaching Kindergarten since 2012 and plan to stay in the classroom for a long time! SITES helped me realize how much I love teaching and being around young kids. I had a leadership opportunity as a Grade Level Coordinator, which helped me realize that I want to guide and mentor new teachers. Furthermore, SITES reinforced my love of languages--I'm now working on studying my 5th!"

Liz Orfaly '12, Sociology

"I  joined SITES my sophomore year when the program was just a couple of years old and run out of Kim's cramped Peters Hall office. I taught in Prospect Elementary and shamelessly exploited the SITES program to write my capstone project for my independent major, "Language in Theory and Practice." After Oberlin I taught Spanish in an elementary school in Massachusetts before settling in New York City, where I have been an ESL teacher in public high schools. Planning curriculum and testing materials and activities while still an undergrad was an invaluable experience: I didn't get to teach in a real-life public school classroom again until I was almost done with grad school. I still have my SITES t-shirt! "

Jonah Kaplan- Woolner '09, Language in Theory and Practice

"SITES and Kim's mentorship launched my career and have guided my professional identity from Spanish educator to Learning Experience Designer. I have worked as an English teacher, Spanish teacher (8th-12th), Learning and Teaching Consultant (Higher Ed), Learning Experience Designer (Higher Ed), Founder of a Virtual Learning Consulting Company (Bolder Learning Design), and now a Learning Lead with Noodle Partners. With a focus first and foremost on impacting student's educational experience, Oberlin and SITES have instilled in me a persistent sense of social justice and the requirement to build learning experiences through the lens of universal design."

Tara Gilboa '11, Anthropology

"After Oberlin, SITES gave me the experience I needed to teach English abroad. Today I teach high school Social Studies in El Paso, Texas, and I still use the pedagogy that SITES supports--active learning with a focus on making learning socially and emotionally relevant (and fun!) to my students. Professor Faber’s Language Pedagogy class remains one of the most relevant classes I took at Oberlin helping me gain the English As a Second Language Teacher Certification and laying the foundation for great language learning pedagogy to support my students."

Ashley Docherty '13, Politics

SITES has meant everything to me professionally.  I majored in French and Hispanic Studies at Oberlin, but contribute all of my teaching "back of tricks" to teaching first grade Spanish with SITES.  Now, I am in my 6th year of teaching French and Spanish in a K-8 school in Chicago.  Our students love the songs, the movement activities, the games and the conversational chunks, some of which I gained directly from the SITES program 6 years ago!"

Emily Wilkins '11, French & Hispanic Studies

"What I appreciate most about the SITES program is the room it provides for its college students to expand their leadership and critical thinking skills. As a soon-to-be graduate student pursuing a Master of Public Health, I am indebted to the SITES program for pushing its instructors to think critically about the larger implications of expanding children's perspectives through language learning. This interdisciplinary form of thinking is something I will continue to carry with me. "

Maria Bertrand '17, Psychology

"I enjoyed teaching in the SITES program immensely. Getting to visit the same class week after week helped me to develop a bond with the students and figure out lessons that would truly speak to their particular interests and personalities. Collaborating with my team teacher to write lessons that engaged many parts of our students' minds and sparked a joy for learning gave me invaluable experience leading into my career as an elementary school science teacher. While my subject matter is no longer language, so many of the same principles I learned about teaching in the SITES program apply, and I even slip in some Spanish vocabulary here and there in my science lessons now!"

Zoë Dash '09, Environmental Studies

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Photos courtesy of Michaela Squier, Kim Faber, and Caitlyn Pineault