Nadia Van Wingerden
University of Western Ontario, Canada, Honors B.A., Cursos Hispanicos, University of Salamanca, Spain, Westmont College, Teaching Credential
My passion for learning and teaching foreign languages has its roots growing up in a Ukrainian household in Toronto, Canada that instilled in its offspring an immense pride in its language and heritage. My father, having survived the horrific experiences of labor camps during the Second World War, was a staunch advocate of foreign language learning. The sharing of this historical event left an everlasting imprint in my life. During my high school years I studied French and Latin and attended an after- school Ukrainian institute. At the University of Western in London, Ontario, I majored in Physical Education and minored in Spanish. Follow up studies in Salamanca, Spain introduced me to my future Californian husband and opened up a whole new way of life for me. A few years later, a Teaching Credential from Westmont enabled me to teach Spanish for over twenty years in various elementary and Middle schools in Ojai and Santa Barbara. Since foreign language curricula were virtually non-existent during this era, my only alternative was to develop my own. Creating a playful and enriching environment that wove language and cultural activities specific to the developmental age of the children was tremendously rewarding.
When I was hired as an ESL Teacher with SBCC continuing Education, I felt like my career had come full circle and that my father would be nodding in approval. In teaching the hard working immigrants in Carpinteria, many with limited literacy skills, my commitment to their educational needs became deeply sensitized. I truly embrace the teaching experience that first and foremost establishes a safe environment that helps them to develop confidence navigating within a complex culture. I believe that the educational investment my students commit themselves to, empower them professionally and benefits the lives of their families.
When I am not in the classroom, you can find me tending my flock of chickens, soaking up the sunset on a paddleboard, smashing a shuttlecock on a badminton court or blazing a trail in the mountains.