It's time for another edition of Meet the Staff!
For any of you who haven't met her yet (you really are missing out!), Brigid is our English as a Second Language (ESL) Coordinator at the Library. She oversees our ESL program, which means that she teaches classes at all three library locations, organizes a group of great volunteer tutors, and even coordinates library tours and/or field trips for her classes. As we mentioned in the July/August edition of our e-newsletter (be sure to subscribe to the e-news at the very bottom of the page to stay up-to-date on all things SPL!), the ESL program is on track to serve more than 3,000 participants this year--the largest number in the history of the program!
We sat down with Brigid and asked her some of our favorite questions to get to know her better. Talking with her was a lot of fun, so we're excited to be able to share what we learned with you.
Before becoming our ESL Coordinator, Brigid started as a volunteer tutor at the West Branch Library. She found the position by searching for ESL volunteer positions in the area and happened to stumble upon our library and its ESL program. After over a year of volunteering, she transitioned into the ESL Coordinator role, which she has been in for about one year.
Brigid's inspiration for choosing ESL instruction as a career is very personal. After college, she moved to Clermont-Ferrand in central France, where she taught for two years (yep, you can chat with her en français!). She very much enjoyed the experience but also reflects upon what sort of classes or resources might have helped her as an expatriate during this time. Finding free--or even affordable--language classes was difficult. In the beginning, "simple" errands or tasks often became more complicated due to language or cultural misunderstandings. This experience helps her identify with and understand her students and continues to motivate her as an ESL instructor.
Brigid told us that before starting to volunteer with us, she hadn't have necessarily thought about the Library first when looking for ESL classes or resources. Because of this, she wishes that more people knew about not only our ESL program, but the breadth of services and programs that we offer, including everything from free technology classes to an Irish step dancing program (that was a fun one!). She's also said that when she started at the Library, she was surprised by how friendly the staff is. "People don't hesitate to ask [the staff] questions, and when I ask questions, no one acts like I shouldn't have asked or I'm bothering them. The staff is also nice and accommodating for all my [ESL] students, which is great," Brigid added.
Brigid's very first memories of public libraries are from the storytime and sing-a-long trips with her parents to their local library. Since working at SPL, Brigid has made many new library memories, but her favorite is a rather recent one. She organized SPL's first ESL field trip for the class at the West Branch. Despite pouring rain, the class still decided to walk together to Porter Square (talk about motivation!). During the walk, the class discussed the Somerville businesses and organizations that they saw while walking. The students enjoyed themselves and more importantly, got to practice their English in a real-world setting and learn more about our community.
When Brigid isn't working, she stays busy by splitting her time between school (she is nearing completion of her Master's degree in Education in ESL) and volunteering with Community Cooks. These days she does a lot of reading for school but enjoys reading memoirs when she can. She also tries to find time to take Zumba classes. When we asked her for one thing about her that might surprise us, Brigid revealed just how much she likes spicy foods--she prefers 4.5 out of 5 on the heat scale!
Finally, we asked Brigid what she would do if she weren't working for the Library. Her answer came easily. "I'd still be teaching ESL," she replied without hesitation. We'd say she's found the right métier.
Want to meet more SPL staff? Check out our past Meet the Staff blog posts!