Currently the Associate Director in Educational Services for Students at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, our educator of the month is Dr. Elise Geither who has been working in the field of English as a Second Language for over 20 years.
Her department falls under Student Affairs, and she provides academic support: tutoring, supplemental instruction, support for international students, and support with disability resources. In addition, she provides training for all teaching assistants (TAs). Like all professors, Elise is always involved in collaboration, research and writing in her field. She is experienced in the creation of ESL programs at the collegiate and K-12 level as well.
“Most of my current work is to test incoming TA’s, provide a training program for TA’s, and teach courses that support international students and international TA’s. I also supervise a spoken English tutoring program, which has been highly successful.”
Dr. Geither even dabbles in the writing of fiction which includes her recently published book, The Deer, and a play called The Stone which was nominated for a Pushcart prize.
Elise grew up in a small suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents are both teachers, and she didn’t think she would want to be a teacher. In college, she took many classes during her first two years in order to find a major. It was when she took Education 101 that she knew that teaching was the right path for her. Though as a child and college student, she didn’t have many opportunities to travel or meet international students, her love for working in ESL comes from her love of learning: about the world, about life and about students she interacts with every day. Her love for teaching and learning about the world led her to China to adopt three lovely girls.
“My daughters inspire me daily and I am more and more dedicated to supporting all students including diverse student populations. Through them I have learned how to strive to be the best and how to be stubborn and never give up. I have learned more and more about China and the world so that their views will be broad and filled with wonder.”
Early on in her career, she began teaching in Intensive English Language Programs (IELPs). Her desire for learning about the world was satisfied to the tune instructing students from over 20 different countries. At the IELP, she taught students ages 16 – 60 and was able to travel around the US with students, providing tours of major cities. She was also able to develop the Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) program for the school and co-created a bridge program for students moving from the IELP to an MBA program. Her continued passion for ESL teaching and training is the students. Elise has seen student’s progress from beginning level English to master’s degrees and have students who now teach English or languages here and abroad.
“The friendships I’ve made through ESL have been significant”, she says.
By extension she has developed lasting relationships and opportunities as a member of the professional development organization called TESOL.org
One of Dr. Geither’s most influential mentors was the director of the IELP program where she spent most of her career. He provided her with many opportunities to try various classes and activities with the students.
“He encouraged me to look beyond the IELP and move into higher education where I ended up learning more about my career path.” She writes, “As a director, he also took every opportunity he could to be in the classroom and know his students. He travelled extensively to market the IELP and the university and is well-loved by those he meets around the world.”
Even In his retirement, he teaches abroad for six months and then comes back to the US to teach some more.
“I can aspire to being so lucky as to continue teaching in retirement…. he taught me that we can live a life that is colorful and wonderful, and I look forward to following in his footsteps.”
Dr. Geither considers herself lucky to have a position where she can be an administrator but also spend time teaching like her mentor. With a focus on curriculum and materials development, she enjoys the opportunities she has to create classes, seminars, and workshops and the materials that best fit the objectives for these students. “I also enjoy developing and supervising some of our English for Specific Purposes (ESP) courses and seeing how important English instruction is in different schools and areas.”
With her passion for teaching and learning as well as curriculum and materials development, Ms. Geither was able to create her own business, Censita, an online tutoring program.
“I started my own business so that one day my daughters could take it over if they like and become directors, administrators, teachers or entrepreneurs. I want them to learn that you can do anything you put your mind to in this life, and I look forward to continuing to broaden my knowledge alongside these great young women.”