Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Regn
Sarah Regn is a recent GSE graduate who received her Master’s in Elementary and Special Education. Upon graduation, Regn moved to Taiwan on a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English at the only bilingual public school on Kinmen, an island that is part of Taiwan. Regn teaches preschool and grades one through four at the school with a total student population of 100. She is focused on teaching her students mindfulness and social-emotional learning as she believes this is the best way to ensure students are given the right tools to succeed as people not just as learners.
According to Regn, her experience with the students in Taiwan has allowed her to recognize that, “your students are more than a textbook. They are people. People can be influenced by you. In your classroom, you are the weather and you have the ability to change and influence the climate.” Regn’s describes her experience teaching in Kinmen as very local, such as having dinner with her student’s families and drinking tea with their grandparents. She states, “Your role as a teacher is not like a role from 8 to 4 and then you’re done. It’s an all-the-time role, as it is in the States, but it’s different here because you live with the community and you’re invested in the community and they’re just as invested with you.”
Through Regn’s Content Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) curriculum, she combines storytelling with literacy for her early-aged learners as it allows for social, emotional learning. After reading Carol McCloud’s story ‘Have you Filled a Bucket Today,’ Regn began to break down the large concept book and developed her own simpler concepts into kindness projects for her students. From this, Regn’s students made their own paper kindness bucket and wrote as many giving thanks and affirmation notes as they could and gave them to each other. “My students not only felt the joy of receiving affirmations, but they also internalized the love you receive when you give.” Another one of Regn’s favorite projects was a kindness rock project, where each student found a stone from the local community, painted it, and on one side wrote a Chinese message, the other side the English translation. Since these projects, Regn has noticed her students interacting more intentionally, friendly, and with kindness to others.
As a result of her time at the GSE, Regn felt extremely prepared to teach English language learners since she learned the importance of differentiation and how to navigate it successfully for each classroom. She was also grateful for the amazing faculty and diversity, stating, “I was going into Taiwan with a really good mindset and that was because of the professors, the small classes, and our conversations at the GSE.” Regn was especially inspired by her professors. When thinking of what kind of educator she aspires to be, she often reflects on GSE Assistant Professor Dr. Amy Lewis. Regn recalls her discussion about Fulbright with Lewis, “It was so reassuring that she was so confident in my abilities going abroad and abilities teaching, touching hearts and it made me really excited to go forward and I’m happy I did it.” Through her special education classes with Drs. Matthew Mayer and Jeanette Donatelli, Regn felt prepared with the right materials to be a successful teacher in Taiwan. Regn is also very appreciative of Dean Winkler for all his support and help through her time at the GSE.
Recently, Regn found a job teaching at a private school in Taichung, Taiwan. She is looking forward to more professional development through teaching at Wagor International School where their curriculum more so reflects an American school system. Regn is excited to see the difference between Kinmen’s public versus Taichung’s private school, as most students at Wagor already have an English competency level. Regn believes finishing graduate school at the GSE and then doing Fulbright was the best decision of her life. She states, “This year has been so important to me and humbled my teaching and has made me excited about all the kinds of learners I will have in my classroom and how I can be there for them not only academically, but also emotionally.”