Martha Abbott ’72 believes that teachers are leaders who make an impact in the world.
“[Leaders] take people to a place where they couldn’t have gone without them…and that’s exactly what teachers do,” said Abbott, executive director for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. She spoke at the fourth annual Educator-in-Residence event at the University of Mary Washington on Saturday, April 26.
Abbott earned her B.A. in Spanish with a minor in Latin from the University of Mary Washington and spent 32 years in education before joining the nonprofit sector. She also holds a master’s degree in Spanish linguistics from Georgetown University and was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2004 by UMW.
She gave graduates advice on impacting student’s lives and how to find success in a teaching career.
“You need to have the fundamental attitude that all kids can learn,” said Abbott. “They have to feel that you think that they can learn.”
She also urged graduates to be open to new and innovative ways to teach in the classroom and to stay out of the teacher’s lounge.
“Teacher impact: it’s what we do,” said Abbott. “When someone asks, ‘what do you do?’ You can say, ‘I make a difference: I teach.’”
The daylong event at the Stafford campus also featured graduate presentations that included such topics as using virtual zoo webcams to teach science, employing cameras to teach English language learners and utilizing visual arts to bolster story recall and comprehension.
The day ended with a number of College of Education awards. Students Anne Roberts and Merilee Grubb received the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International Virginia Scholars Awards; Laura Gomez received the Barbara Bishop Mann Award; and Olivia Costello received the Outstanding Master of Education Student Award.