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March 22, 2019

Alumni Spotlight: Brianna Starr ’18 (English to Speakers of Other Languages) First ESOL Program Graduate

Having grown up around Roberts, with parents who both taught at the College, Brianna Starr ’18 (English to Speakers of Other Languages) was very familiar with the school and the Education Department.  Even with that familiarity, her Roberts experience helped to shape her life and career path in exciting ways.

Brianna is the first graduate in the new Bachelor of Science in English to Speakers of Other Languages major.  Roberts is one of the few colleges in New York State to offer this program, with certification for K-12, at the undergraduate level.  Most programs are at the graduate level only.

Brianna, and teachers like her, are filling an important role in our schools.  With the influx of immigrants and refugees, schools are struggling to help students meet educational goals.  English Language Learners (ELL students) need the kind of assistance ESOL teachers provide to succeed and thrive in their new community. 

Brianna got a job right after graduating at Greece Arcadia middle and high school teaching ESL (English to speakers of other languages).  She teaches students from different backgrounds, countries, cultures, and experiences.  Many of her students are refugees who came to America seeking a safe haven.  Brianna says, “The students that I work with remind me daily of the way that God loves us and sees us each for who we are as unique, special, beloved children with individual strengths. I am blessed to have the opportunity not only to teach these students but to help them navigate the challenges of middle and high school in regards to their social and emotional lives as well as their academics. I get to support not only my students but their entire families as I work with them to overcome language barriers as well as the social and economic barriers that they face here in America. God is working through me to love and witness to my students and their families as well as my many co-workers.”

Dr. Rachel Adams Goertel, Assistant Professor of Education, was a mentor to Brianna and someone who guided her through her college experience.  Dr. Adams Goertel says of Brianna, “Brianna's Christian values, dedication to teacher education, sensitivity to students of diversity, and knowledge of pedagogy, results in a talented teacher who is already impacting the students in her first position as an ESOL classroom teacher.”

Brianna says that Dr. Adams Goertel taught her how to be a good teacher, how to build rapport with students, and how to advocate for students.  She encouraged her, supported her, and coached her through college and right into a career that she loves.  

Brianna is engaged to Joshua Roselund ’18 (Religion-Philosophy).  She attends Calvary Assembly of God and volunteers as a Sidewalk Club leader and for Flower City Work Camp. 


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