By Evan Johnson
When Nancy Mark retired from a career in education, she wasn’t ready to walk away from the classroom.
After retiring from her role as principal at the Mettawee Community School in Pawlet, she took an online English as a Second Language (ESL) course and signed up with Vermont Adult Learning to begin working with groups of adults in its English Language Learner program. Her work began with shadowing other teachers before taking on groups of students on her own.
As an English teacher, much of the material she works on is in the realm of nonfiction and topics have included Aretha Franklin and the architecture of New York City.
“I tell my students on a regular basis that I learn along with them,” she said. “We learn about the language and the determinants that make it so unique to each group of people.”
Mark has since gone from working with larger groups to one-on-one with students in areas of their interest. One of the areas she’s enjoyed working with students is on their resumes, helping them start or move forward in their careers.
“That was really rewarding because I got to see what their backgrounds were and everyone of them had something to offer. They could become more confident,” she said. “They have a wide variety of skills, with backgrounds in everything from music to academia. They are everything from teachers, to working in a store to an adjunct professor.”
In the weeks ahead, Mark said she’s planning to focus on reading, listening, vocabulary, public speaking, and especially writing with her students.
“Writing is an area that I plan to push a little more,” she said. “It’s not always people’s first choice.”
Mark said she hopes to help students who want to take the citizenship test administered to candidates by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
More volunteers are needed at Vermont Adult learning and Mark said she hopes others will join her.
Nancy Mark, seated fourth from right, enjoys a meal with some of her students.