Amber Epp

Photo Credit: Lindsay Bond

Amber has worked as a professional musician for ten years, playing jazz and Latin music (see amberepp.com for more information).  She attributes her recent turn to teaching to her experiences meeting music-lovers from all over the world at the concerts and events she performs at, saying “I love meeting people from other countries and discovering what their cultures are like. Last winter, I decided it was time to add something new to my life, so I took the Teacher Certification Program at the U of W.” She currently teaches CLB 5-6 international students at the Red River College Language Training Centre. How is she feeling about her new gig? “I thought teaching ESL would be a relatively easy, but fulfilling part-time job. Was I in for a rude awakening!”

What is important to you as a teacher? What are your goals?

“As a teacher, it’s important that I use good quality resources, that students find some measure of success with the activities we do in class, and that I do my part to contribute to a positive class and work environment. And sleep. Sleep is important.

My most recent goal as a teacher was to survive my first term (which I have…just…barely…). My next goal is to find balance between teaching and my life outside of school.”

What is a moment you had with a class that inspired you?

“We had a special moment in my current class when we had a surprise birthday party for one of our students. He said he had only ever had two birthday celebrations in his life, because his family had to work every single day all year, and there was no time for birthday parties. Another student initiated him into their own ‘birthday celebration ritual’ by smashing a piece of cake with blue icing in his face! The class had a great time, and it inspired me to take time for students’ special moments, because many international students are here alone and don’t have anyone to celebrate special events with, never mind the everyday grind.”

Who has been a mentor for you as a teacher and why? (What did you learn from them?)

“One of my teacher mentors is Laila Aronas. She kept me sane at the start of my first term by telling me exactly what I needed to know, how things run, and how to deal with students who were giving me a hard time.  I learnt that not everything is as big a deal as it appears to be. I also learned the value of sharing materials. Another mentor is Irina Volchok. She always has an encouraging word and a hug for me when I’m stressing out about teaching.”

What would you be doing if you weren’t a teacher?

“If I wasn’t a teacher, and I had a money tree, I would be traveling around the world, seeing as many interesting places as possible and trying to learn some of the local language. I would also learn to tap dance, become fluent in Spanish, and perform music in as many countries as possible.

Amber enjoys, crocheting, watercolour painting, cycling and eating “anything I don’t have to cook myself”.

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