English Teacher Found the World in Sioux Falls

Amy Vander Lugt is not sure what she likes best about her job: her students or her co-workers.

“It’s really a tie,” Amy says laughing.

For 12 years, Amy has been teaching English language classes here at the Center for New Americans, and during this time, she has met students from more than 60 different countries.

“I always thought I would go to China to teach English,” Amy says, “but when I got my first job out of graduate school here at LSS, I realized that the world had come to me.”


What she has found here at LSS, she explains, is the enchanting and uplifting world of reconciliation.

“Here, everyone sits and learns together – Christians, Muslims, Hindu, Buddhists. There is no fighting. Everyone gets along.”

Amy says she is constantly impressed with the students’ sense of gratitude. “The students are so grateful for what they have. They’re willing to change and adapt and be thankful for what they have. They don’t complain, and they work so hard,” she says.

In addition to teaching English classes, Amy also teaches technology classes, gives new and outgoing students entrance and exit exams, and performs data management for the education program.

Amy says her co-workers are supportive and encouraging. “I have really great co-workers. We have a very positive work environment,” she says.

A Sioux Falls native, Amy graduated from Washington High School in 1996 and then majored in English at USD. After college, she studied Chinese in China for two years. That’s when she first met English language teachers.

“I thought, ‘Wow, I didn’t know this was a profession,’” she says, laughing. Settled on the career plan of teaching English, she graduated with a Master’s in TESOL from Wheaton College, and then came to LSS straight from graduate school. The job turned in to a long-term career.

“I just really like working with people from other countries, finding common ground, getting to know them. I like opening people’s minds to different ways of thinking – and my mind, too,” she says.

If you would like to learn more about a career in teaching English to adults, feel free to contact Education Coordinator, Laura Smith-Hill at laura.smithhill@lsssd.org or 605-731-2040.

And if you would are interested in becoming an ESL classroom volunteer, please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Kristyne Walth at Kristyne.walth@lsssd.org or 605-731-2009.

Posted by Julie Boutwell-Peterson



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