This month’s Liberty Christian School Community Spotlight features Spanish teacher Sigrid Houston. Mrs. Houston’s enthusiasm and her love of foreign languages make Spanish class a fun and engaging experience for her students. Here is what she had to share with us.
Q. Why do you like teaching at LCS?
A. I honestly love everything about LCS. I really mean that! I love the supportive staff here, the students are just the best, and I love that I get to teach something that I am passionate about in a Christ-centered environment. How could I possibly ask for more?
Q. What motivated you to become a teacher at LCS?
A. I had served for 12 years as the Children’s Ministry Director at Covenant of Grace Church in Reisterstown while my kids were growing up. My youngest is now 18 and it’s time to get back to my passion: Spanish! Liberty Christian School and Covenant of Grace Church are very closely tied, so when I saw the vacancy announcement for a Spanish teacher, I jumped on it! And I mean jumped! It was just exactly what I wanted to be doing, and to be able to teach in a Christ-centered environment? Wow! What an opportunity! I feel so very blessed to be here!
Q. Where did your interest in Spanish originate? When did you learn to speak Spanish and do you speak any other languages?
A. My interest in Spanish originated in 8th grade and it was because of my wonderful teacher, Miss Doris Helms. Her enthusiasm for the language was contagious. She was a challenging teacher and her expectations were very high, but the reward was that we all learned so much from her! I went on to double major in Spanish and International Affairs (combination of political science, history, geography, economics) at the University of Mary Washington. I also speak Russian, and studied briefly at Middlebury College in Vermont. After college, I worked as a linguist for the Defense Department and I learned to speak Russian. In addition to teaching at Liberty Christian School, I have also been teaching English as a Second Language to adults at Covenant of Grace. I teach the advanced class and have served in this capacity for 7 years. I get the opportunity to use both my Spanish and Russian in class as I teach English to people from all over the world. Even though the teaching is done in English, the knowledge of how other languages work enables me to better teach English to these populations.
Q. What is a unique experience, talent or interest that you bring to your classroom to help shape the learning experience of your students?
A. I try to keep language fun. This, of course, means that we get a little loud sometimes. I like to challenge my students and I’m just so excited for them when they meet my challenges. I know they can do it, and I love to watch them see that, yes, they CAN do it! It makes my heart sing! With the lower school students, we do puppet shows, songs, games and other things to make learning fun! The kids just love those puppets!
Q. You had the opportunity to be a part of the LCS Costa Rica Mission Team this past February. Tell us about your experience and what it meant to help lead a group of LCS students on a foreign missions trip
A. It is almost difficult to put into words how it felt to lead a group of students to Costa Rica for the first time. It was amazing! I feel that God truly blessed me with the opportunity to use my experience with Spanish language, ESL teaching and Children’s Ministry to serve in La Carpio. All my past experience led to this place. I am just in awe of our Creator and how He knows exactly what He’s doing when he leads us all our different life paths. La Carpio brought them all together for me. Watching our 8th graders serve and share Christ with these impoverished children touched me deeply. Our students quite willingly and enthusiastically shared their time, shared their hearts and shared the love of Jesus with these adorable kids. Seeing their tears as we served in La Carpio on the last day and they had to say goodbye to the kids. Oh my! How blessed we are here at LCS to have such tender souls. We are all changed as a result of having been there. We will not forget this experience.
Q. What are some of your interests and hobbies?
A. I am a huge fan of puzzles. In fact, I just started a 1,000-piece puzzle last evening, so I won’t see my dining room table for a while! In fact, I look at Spanish and Russian as puzzles. I like to pick languages apart and see what makes them “tick.” I also love walking/hiking. I’ve done quite a bit of this with the boy scouts, but I’ve missed this a bit during the school year. I have big plans for doing lots of day hikes with my 18-year old before he goes off to basic training this summer though. He and I are big hiking buddies.
Q. Tell us about your involvement with the Boy Scouts of America.
A. Boy Scouts. I have to say I just love this organization. Both my sons are Eagle Scouts from Troop 634 out of Covenant of Grace Church in Reisterstown. I have been involved with scouting since my older son, Tim was a first grader and he’s now a junior in college. Ack! That’s 15 years! I started out as an involved parent when the boys were cub scouts and then, as they advanced to boy scouts I jumped in with both feet. I served as the troop committee chairman for two years until I started teaching at LCS, and I still serve on the committee. My son Michael and I travelled with the troop on a High Adventure trip to Florida Sea Base where we spent a week as crew aboard The Yankee, a 75-schooner. Florida. July. 30 people on a boat. Need I say more? It was great, but, as with all high adventure trips, not always easy...but always worth it.
Q. How do you inspire your students to love learning?
A. I have to say I just love foreign languages! OK, so maybe I’m a little weird, but I’m hoping my enthusiasm rubs off a little bit! I challenge my students to think. Growing up is all about learning how to think on your own, and learning a foreign language teaches you more than just that language. It teaches you things about your own native language that you may have never thought about before. It also teaches you to think outside the box. I like being outside the box! It’s fun and challenging out there!
Q. What do you want your students to gain from having known you?
A. My hope is that my students learn to challenge themselves and strive for their very best in all circumstances. One person’s best isn’t necessarily the same as another person’s, and I want my students to feel confident in their own abilities to succeed. Spanish is a tricky thing to teach. Some students take to it like sponges, and others not so much. God doesn’t need a world full of linguists anyway! He needs a world full of servants who serve Him and always do their very best with the skills they have. I want my students to understand that God isn’t always going to put us in comfortable situations, but that He is always our Comfort. When we do our best to serve Him even in those challenging areas, we will be blessed beyond measure. I saw this lived out in Costa Rica when my students were scared to use their Spanish the first day. Then, as they got used to the environment, they used more and more Spanish and grew in their Spanish ability and in their overall confidence.