As one of Wittenberg’s prestigious full-tuition Smith Scholars during her years on campus, Emily Guhde knew there were high expectations for her, and the philosophy major did not disappoint.
Following graduation, Guhde took her Wittenberg education and embarked on a unique journey with Teach for America. As a member of this national corps of outstanding recent college graduates of all academic majors who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools, Guhde is teaching language arts entirely in Spanish to 55 second- and third-graders at Tertulia: Pre-College Community, a dual-language charter school in downtown Phoenix, Ariz.
“Only after I was hired by Tertulia did I realize the uniqueness of my position,” Guhde said. “Tertulia annually forfeits approximately $75,000 of state funds because it does not abide by ‘English-Only’ structured-immersion regulations,” she said.
Instead students receive 50 percent of their instruction from Guhde in Spanish, and 50 percent with her team teacher in English. In addition, Guhde has brought Wittenberg, literally, to her classroom.
“Making my room the ‘Wittenberg Room’ was a way to remind my students constantly that they are college-bound, and I liked the idea of them sitting at tables named after buildings that they could very well be walking through one day,” she said.
Gudhe has also connected with her students outside of class. Most recently, she marched with her students and their families in protest over the proposed immigration reform. She then had the students study historical leaders and their messages of peaceful protests.
As for the challenges, Guhde said the biggest one is making her students believe they are college-bound.
“For some of them it’s really difficult to see how there is any possible connection between their lives, their homes, their families, and a world like Wittenberg,” she said.
“Even if all one student remembers is that she sat at ‘Mesa Hollenbeck’ and was in the ‘Tigres’ reading group, she’ll have two connections with Wittenberg that, hopefully, will keep her dreaming about the place long enough to make her want to get there.””