ESL Program Resource Teacher
Upper Canada District School Board

sarah carlyon-baker

I graduated from the Bachelor of Humanities program with a Combined Honours in English in 2006. After HUMS, I went on to complete my Bachelor of Education at the University of Ottawa, and I began teaching for the Upper Canada District School Board in the fall of 2007.

My whole life I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Sometimes, you just know where you need to be. I wanted to be in a university program that would not just get me accepted into a faculty of education, but that would help me become the kind of teacher I wanted to be. I needed a program that would help me earn the credits I needed to become a high-school English teacher while mirroring my passion for learning. I dreamt of inspiring my students, like Robin Williams in “Dead Poets Society,” while being completely loved and adored.

I’m not going to lie — my students don’t always love me and they would look at me weirdly if I asked them to stand on their desks. But the Bachelor of Humanities was what I needed. It challenged and inspired me every step of the way and helped me become the teacher and person I am today.

In the Bachelor of Humanities I read books I never would have encountered had I pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree, as I had originally planned. It gave me the English and History qualifications I needed to complete my Bachelor of Education, but along the way I also studied Religion, Politics, Art, Philosophy, and even Science.

With the emphasis on cross-curricular studies we see in the world of education today, studying liberal arts prepared me not only to meet this desired method of teaching, but to dive in happily head-first and show my students how relevant various fields of studies can be to each other. For example, I can easily bring the world of Science into my English and History classes, and reach students who would normally tune out a lesson because it did not interest them.

In amongst the chaos of having three beautiful babies, keeping chickens and helping my husband save the bees, I have had the privilege of teaching students English, History, Family Studies and ESL, both in class and online. In September 2014 I am starting my new position as an ESL Program Resource Teacher. I will be travelling to the different elementary and secondary schools throughout our board, working with teachers and administrators to ensure that the English Language Learners (ELLs) are being accommodated and given every chance to succeed. We will also ensure that their teachers are not overwhelmed and are provided with professional development opportunities that encourage effective assessment and evaluation strategies for their ELLs.

I would not be where I am and who I am if it weren’t for my time spent as a Liberal Arts student. This program forces you to think critically about topics that affect your very being. You are forced to look at yourself and the world around you through very different lenses than the rose coloured ones we often put on. You become a better person, because you are exposed to good people with different ideas. Through discussion groups and lectures you engage in intellectual conversations that allow you to open up, or sit back and take it all in.

I think back on my time at the College of Humanities with great fondness. I feel privileged to have worked alongside some amazing people, and to have studied under the guidance of some first-class professors. I would recommend this program to anyone who loves to read and is ready to question and challenge the world around him or her.

Sarah Carlyon-Baker is an ESL Program Resource Teacher for the Upper Canada District School Board.

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