Joanna Schrecengost, instructor of English as an International Language, was honored when asked to present at Cornerstone University’s ESL Conference in March 2016. She was honored again during the conference, when the University presented her with its MA TESOL Distinguished Alumna (2016) Award.
“While working on my master’s degree at Cornerstone, everyone in my cohort really bonded,” recalled Schrecengost. “Since I had taken some undergraduate classes there, I guess I was the one who introduced the others to campus traditions. I became the group organizer and think this is why I was selected.” Schrecengost also acknowledged that she has stayed active in professional organizations and is committed to her field, two criteria for the award.
Starting as an instructor at UF in 2014, Schrengost has worked hard to build a community in her classes with a student enrollment that’s multicultural and multi-language. She works to motivate her students, but to also make them accountable for their own learning. “We have students of all skill levels in the IELP, but we work hard to teach them the academic English skills they need to succeed in their future programs.”
With a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from Rochester College, Michigan, Schrecengost did not plan on teaching as a career. It was during a class in multicultural communications that she became “hooked,” and decided to delve more into this area. After graduation, she decided to pursue a master of arts in TESOL at Cornerstone University, also located in Michigan.
Schrecengost taught for a year at Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia, before coming to Findlay. She feels that UF has an exceptionally internationally diverse student population for a small, private university and currently is seeing many students from Nepal and also Saudi Arabia.
“There are a lot of factors that influence our international student population,” she added. “The global economy and the amount of scholarships that are available play big roles.”
Her conference presentation, “A Community of Learners: Strategies for Building a Cohesive and Cooperative English Language Classroom,” focused on goal-setting, fostering of student autonomy, student-centered teaching and the integration of community building activities into the curriculum.