Serving the ESL Community – When a Calling Becomes a Career
Tammy Hutchinson-Harosky (Ed.D., English as a Second Language, candidate)
BY: KARA HAWKING
For some, becoming an educator is a career path. For others, like Tammy Hutchinson-Harosky, it was a calling. “I decided at a young age that I wanted to be a teacher. Actually, I really wanted to open my own dance studio, but my dance instructor told me that I would need a teaching license to do that, so I decided I would be a teacher instead! I just wanted to make a difference.”
That dance instructor provided the spark for a dream, but a family with strong educational values groomed an educator-to-be. “At an early age, my parents instilled in my brothers and me the importance of education,” explains Hutchinson-Harosky. “Getting a college degree was not an option – the only choice was where we would go to get it. My parents worked very hard to make sure that my two brothers and I received a college education, and they still encourage us to reach for the stars.”
Hutchinson-Harosky chose Carson-Newman College (now University) in Jefferson City, Tennessee, as the venue for her first few steps toward the head of the classroom. First, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English/Secondary Education with a minor in Spanish, which she immediately put to use teaching various levels of English and Spanish for Blount County Schools. And later – while teaching full-time – she returned to Carson-Newman to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching with a focus on English as a Second Language.
“I taught in the public school setting for nineteen years,” Hutchinson-Harosky explains. “[But] after spending 12 years in the high school setting, I felt I needed to make more of a difference. I decided it was time to move into the ESL field. The students were so eager to learn and appreciative of every bit of knowledge they could gain,” she says.
Quickly, the ESL community became Hutchinson-Harosky’s newest passion for contribution to the education community.
“There are so many needs in the field of ESL,” she asserts. “Even if an individual does not hold a teaching license in ESL, [they] could volunteer to teach adult ESL students basic survival skills such as going to the bank or the doctor. Volunteer programs that reach out to help ESL families are always in need of individuals who are willing to give their time to help the ESL families to adjust to the new culture.”
Inspired by the eager students she taught in the classroom, she joined the Tennessee Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TNTESOL) organization in 2007 and continues to attend conferences.
In the years since focusing her efforts on the ESL community, Hutchinson-Harosky has completed her Ed.S. in Curriculum and Instruction at Lincoln Memorial University and is currently pursuing her Ed.D., with a focus on English as a Second Language, at Northcentral University.
Somewhere between earning graduate degrees and certifications, joining professional organizations, and inspiring a generation of students, Hutchinson-Harosky found time for her proudest accomplishment – her family.
“I have been married to my husband, Chris Harosky, for 13 years. I am the very proud mother of two caring, smart and athletic daughters – Hannah and Haley. We also have three furry children – Snowball, Coco and Maggie. I consider [my family] to be my greatest accomplishment.”
Now an experienced, passionate educator and mother with strong ties to her community, Hutchinson-Harosky’s calling as an educator has taken her to King University in Bristol, TN, where she works in the School of Education as the ESL program coordinator and teaches ESL and literacy courses.
“I really work with a fabulous group of educators at King University,” she admits. “I hope that as I grow as a college professor I will instill the same love of learning that I see them instilling in the future teachers that we work with.”
Like many educators before her, Hutchinson-Harosky continues to find inspiration in the teachers who inspired her commitment to teaching and learning as a lifelong pursuit.
“I can picture in my mind the faces of the wonderful educators that I have had in the past,” she reflects. “Phyllis Ratliffe, who was hard, but fair and presented the material in a way that made me realize I wanted to be an English teacher. Gail Dalton, who encouraged me to never stop learning and still encourages me to continue my education until I [finish] my doctorate.”
Moving forward, Hutchinson-Harosky hopes that through her teaching at King University she’ll continue to make a difference for children and teachers in the education community, just as her teachers have done for her. “As an educator, there is nothing like seeing that student have [their] ‘ah-ha’ moment and knowing that you were a part of it,” she says.
*Originally published in Higher Degrees Winter 2014.