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LAURA MOELLER, Spain, 2018-2019

LAURA MOELLER
Fulbright Year: 2018-2019
Country: Spain
Proposal Type: English Teaching Assistantship
UGA Undergraduate Majors: Science Education, Chemistry, Spanish
Graduation Date: Spring 2018
Hometown: Augusta, Georgia

One of Laura Moeller’s long-term career goals is to improve and promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education for all students, especially ELL—English language learning—students, who are often left behind as teachers deal with the challenges of instructing diverse groups of students while still shooting for defined benchmarks.

“I believe if content area programs and ELL programs were to become better integrated, where teachers from both areas worked in tandem, ELL students would have a greater chance of excelling in schools,” says Laura. “In the future, I hope to work towards making this a reality.”

Laura’s Fulbright year will unfold at Colegio Decroly in Madrid, Spain, working with students from 12 to 17 years old in developing their English comprehension, speaking, and writing abilities.

A UGA Honors student and UGA Presidential Scholar, Laura is well-prepared for her Fulbright assignment. Besides studying Spanish for a decade, Laura has worked as an English teacher for adults with the Athens Latino Center and has served as a volunteer translator for the Clarke County School System and a tutor for younger English-language learners.

“For more than two years, I volunteered as an instructor who developed lessons for and built relationships with adults in the Athens area who were learning to speak English,” says Laura. “This is what first inspired me to look into being an English Teaching Assistant and applying for the Fulbright Scholarship.”

During a two-month study abroad program in Sevilla, Spain, Laura further developed her interest in secondary school education, thanks to multiple conversations with her host family about the differences in the American and Spanish education systems.

She has also traveled to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Thailand, Jamaica, and Kenya. In Thailand, Jamaica, and Kenya, she worked with children through summer-camp-like programs and became acquainted with being flexible and positive, despite the challenges that came with the assignment.

In Madrid, Laura says she anticipates learning as much as teaching.

During my Fulbright year, I look forward to learning from other teachers at my placement school to further hone my teaching skills, specifically my ability to teach non-native English-speaking students,” she said. “I also look forward to learning more about the Spanish culture and being a cultural ambassador both in Spain and when I return home. And traveling and seeing more of the world is also a great opportunity.”

Teaching the sciences is just as important as teaching English, Laura says, adding that, “I want to be a chemistry teacher so I can inspire students to pursue passions in science while learning to think critically. I also aspire to be an advocate for ELL students by offering extra assistance to students and clear communication with parents.”

After her Fulbright experience, Laura says she plans to teach at the high-school level with an eye on returning to school to earn her master’s degree in education. After gaining additional experience in the classroom, she plans to shift her focus to education reform, “creating environments where ELL students can thrive and gain access to more opportunities, as well as empowering girls to pursue careers in STEM-related fields.”