Impressions of a 1st-year Teacher

January 15, 2019

Hi! I’m Lindy Obach, and up until a year ago, I spent my career nagging college students about comma splices and reading poetry. I taught college English for the University of South Dakota at University Center-Sioux Falls for 11 years. And then it was time for a change. At University Center, I realized quickly that the students I most enjoyed teaching were immigrants and refugees.

So, as I job-searched, I came across the LSS Center for New Americans. I submitted an application to be an On-Call Instructor, and after an interview and teaching demonstration, I was hired! I spent the first few months subbing and meeting students in all levels of our program. After subbing for awhile, a full-time position opened up, and I am very happy to be the newest full-time ESL teacher here.


Sharing food & fun with my Oral 4 students

One of the most paramount discoveries I’ve made since teaching at the Center for New Americans is just how truly connected we all are – how truly we are brothers and sisters. A Bhutanese student of mine has a sister who lives and works at a major hospital in Fargo; so do I. A Congolese student and I discovered that she lived for a while in my home area in North Dakota and that she attended the same small-town Catholic church I grew up in. A Ukrainian student has neighbors back home with the same last name as my paternal grandmother, herself a Ukrainian immigrant. This commonality, this sense of family, is what makes teaching here so completely special.


Sumitra & I at our graduation celebration

I knew when I stepped into a classroom at the CNA that this job would be different; what I didn’t realize was just how joyful and fun and life-changing this job would be.  Because of this job, I have hundreds of new friends (like Sumitra!). I have tried all sorts of new foods (momo, anyone?), learned phrases in about a dozen languages (ameseginalehu!), and watched the most dedicated, hardworking people develop their English skills and burst with confidence and pride. Because of this job, I have rediscovered the pure delight teaching brings. Every day I go home and tell my spouse, “Another great day with my students!”


A plate of momo, roti,& curry from one of my Lit 2 students

Teaching immigrants and refugees is the absolute best job. Real learning, gratitude, friendship, and community take place in our classrooms every day. When there is a birthday, a holiday, a new job, a graduation, a new baby, a wedding, or a day that ends in –y, we celebrate and our little school buzzes with happiness (and delicious food!).  I love watching my fellow teachers interact with our students – so many hugs and namaste’s and high-fives are exchanged throughout the day. We are truly a team of learners here at the Center for New Americans; I am very blessed to teach and teach alongside the most extraordinary people.

— Lindy Obach, ESL Teacher, LSS Center for New Americans






Preschool Confidence- How Can We Be So Sure?

April 27, 2015

“Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein

Nationally, there is a focus on how best we can ensure our children are prepared for the future through education. Research shows that this process begins in the womb. As parents, that can put a lot of pressure on us to provide the ideal learning opportunities for our children from the moment we fall in love with them. I believe that sometimes that drive to prepare our children academically can cause us to miss the greatest opportunity for doing just that. We are so excited for our little ones to learn that we forget to encourage the very thing that will help them learn best- play!

As we sort and stack the sweet little graduation caps, tassels and gowns for our preschool class of 2015, I cannot resist thinking about the fact that they are just 13 years away from becoming the high school graduating class of 2028. Fortunately, I’m confident that as a preschool, we have partnered with their parents as they prepared them to be wildly successful! I’m also excited that we will have the opportunity to watch many of these little ones grow as they continue on in our After-School and Summer Programs. Some of our students that have grown up in Sioux Falls have even sent us high school graduation invites or stopped in to show us just how successful they are! Some of our graduates are even LSS employees now. This is such a blessing.

graduation kid istock

I imagine you are wondering how I can be so confident that our preschool has prepared students to be successful. What follows is a small list of the reasons that I believe LSS provides the type of preschool experience to our students that will help them grow and learn so I have collected some quotes from around the world to support my belief. Read the rest of this entry »

My Appreciation for Libraries

March 18, 2014

As I was flipping through old photos today I ran across this little gem:

library card

This image captures the day last summer that I took my youngest daughter to get her first library card. As you can see, she was as excited as I was! She had been choosing books since she was old enough to point but until the moment in this photo I checked them out on my card for her. This day was momentous for her. With a library card comes responsibility for returning books on time and in good shape. This is an important lesson!

Our preschool students walk to the library every week, sometimes twice! They enjoy a story time, check out books and sometimes attend special events. Our after-school and summer programs use the Bookmobile and nearby libraries all year long. The library is an important place for me and for our programs and I was struck today by just how much I value the library system. I decided to use my turn on our blog today to talk about why I love the library, particularly for children. Read the rest of this entry »

Even More Unique Gift Ideas for Kids

December 3, 2013

Last year I wrote a blog post on Unique Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids.  It includes a list of gifts that most kids won’t have already received. I realized that I forgot an important option on my list and wanted to add something this year. Consider giving the children in your life something that they can share or give to others. There are many ways to do this but I’ve collected a few ideas. Please read them and share your own ideas in the comments or on our Facebook page. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy (and Safe) Halloween!

October 29, 2013

Costumes should be safe! Avoid masks that impede vision. Avoid hard accessories like plastic swords or broomsticks that could poke your child or others. Be sure shoes and costumes aren’t a tripping hazard.

Always check treats and candy to be sure they are safe.

Never let them go alone. Walk with your child. If you think they are old enough to go without an adult, be sure they are with friends you trust. Teach them about crosswalks and talk about where they are allowed to go.

Don’t forget the lights! Be sure that children are walking with bright lights so that others can see them and they can see where they are going. Be sure candles in jack-o-lanterns and luminaries are flameless or out of reach of children.

You are the best judge of what is safe for your child. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to your child even if all of their friends are doing something. Keep your child safe.

Halloween Kids Read the rest of this entry »

Safe Families and Safe Kids

October 10, 2013

This week is National Fire Prevention Week. Keep your family safe with tips and activities from Sparky The Fire Dog. In short, Sparky says:

  1. Plan two ways out!

  2. Have working smoke alarms!

  3. Choose an outside meeting place!

  4. Practice your escape.


October is also a month filled with memories for me. Six years ago I had the unique experience of being blessed by a miracle. When we were expecting our youngest daughter we were nearly the victims of carbon monoxide poisoning. Our furnace had an issue that went unnoticed and our carbon monoxide detectors did not work. By the grace of God and the help of great medical staff we are still around to tell others to be safe. Tragically, it seems that every year around this time local news contains the story of lives lost to carbon monoxide when we all start our furnaces up for the year. My hope is that this can be prevented.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has good tips to keep everyone safe. Some things you need to know:

  1. CO (Carbon Monoxide) is a colorless and odorless gas.

  2. Have working CO Alarms

  3. The symptoms of CO poisoning often mimic the flu and include: headache, fatigue, difficulty breathing, nausea, dizziness and confusion.

  4. If you suspect poisoning go immediately to a physician or call 911.

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