Jacqueline Spencer '17, a special education and elementary education major, will be teaching English in Spain as part of a federal program that builds goodwill between the United States and people of other nations.
Jacqueline Spencer ’17 will spend a year teaching English in Spain with support from a 2016-17 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
The experience will add to the considerable time Spencer has already dedicated to teaching, both domestically and abroad. A special education and elementary education major who has minored in Spanish, Spencer has taught a conversational English class for adults in Costa Rica and completed five educational internships while at Elon.
A Teaching Fellow and member of the Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Delta Pi and Kappa Delta Pi honor societies, she has studied abroad through the Elon Teaching Fellows program in San José, Costa Rica and prior to coming to Elon, spent her junior year of high school studying in Zaragoza, Spain.
“After falling in love with Spain during a year abroad there in high school, I have always been eager to return,” said Spencer, who came to Elon from Pottstown, Pennsylvania. “While I developed a wide breadth of knowledge about Spain at age 16, I wasn’t yet mature enough to explore its depth. Returning to Spain as an english teaching assistant will allow me to dig into the foundation of cultural understanding that I laid for myself earlier in life.”
Spencer is a 2013 graduate of The Hill School in Pottstown, and said she developed an interest in education and cross-cultural exchange as a daughter in a military family that moved 12 times by the time she became a teenager. At the age of 13, Spencer launched her own nonprofit, Jackie Packs, which delivers backpacks and school supplies to children in orphanages and made its initial delivery to an orphanage in Tecate, Mexico.
Formative experiences in private, public and international schools helped shape her desire to pursue a Fulbright award as well as her long-term career goal of becoming a school administrator focused on ensuring children receive the education they deserve regardless of their backgrounds.
While studying abroad in high school, Spencer noticed that her Spanish peers did not hesitate to practice their English with her, and she hopes to learn from teachers in Spain how to build the same confidence in her own students.
“Spain emphasizes learning English from an early age, which helps students become proficient in two languages while still valuing their native language,” Spencer said. “Forming strong cross-cultural relationships while teaching English in Spain will show me what it means to effectively teach a language while valuing students’ native language and culture.”
Spencer has the full confidence of Nina Namaste, associate professor of Spanish and one of the professors who recommended Spencer for the Fulbright award. “She is the type of teacher we all wish we had had — kind, patient, nurturing, inquisitive, thoughtful, thorough, reflective, socially conscious, ethical, enthusiastic, creative, engaged, flexible, self-disciplined, internally motivated, and out to make the world a better place one person at a time,” Namaste said.
After her year in Spain as a Fulbright student, Spencer plans to teach at an elementary school that is serving a high percentage of children from low-income families before pursuing a master’s degree in prevention science, with a focus on how aspects of school systems can create disadvantages for children, and how to prevent that from happening.
“Eventually, I plan to work as a school administrator, where I will advocate for the programs and resources that students need to be successful, no matter their backgrounds,” Spencer said. “A Fulbright will continue my journey toward my future goal of strengthening the schools that will prepare our next generation of citizens to live in a globalized world.”
Spencer is the daughter of James Luther Spencer IV and Dr. Kristin Clingman Spencer of Montgomery, Alabama.
Elon students and recent alums interested in the Fulbright program are encouraged to visit the National and International Fellowships Office in Powell building or by calling (336) 278-5749.