Making the Grade: Lisa Ferguson |

Making the Grade: Lisa Ferguson

JULIE SUTORsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Reid Williams Upper Blue Elementary English as a Second Language teacher Lisa Ferguson, with her daughters Sophie and Abby.

Lisa Ferguson is paraprofessional at Upper Blue Elementary in Breckenridge, where she works with K-5 English Language Learners.Ferguson’s experience sharing the English language extends long before her arrival in Summit County.”I have lived overseas much of my adult life. I worked in tourism in Hong Kong, Thailand, Yugoslavia, Senegal and Egypt, until I met my husband, Alan,” Ferguson said. “We lived in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Nigeria, West Africa.”I taught English in both Singapore and Nigeria to two divergent groups: in Singapore, to privileged children in a private British primary school; in Nigeria, to handicapped boys who begged on the streets for money. Their motivation to learn English was to get off the streets and better themselves. I’m proud to say that, in some cases, they were successful.”

Although I studied education in school, I did not put it to any use until after I was married and living in Singapore. I loved working with motivated Chinese children whose goal, in most cases, was to learn a third language.

Teaching second-language learners has always been a challenge, and we in Summit County are learning fast that we have a lot of work to do. We have a newly formed Integration Group, whose purpose is to improve what were doing to welcome new arrivals.I was a newcomer in many foreign countries and feel sympathetic to our foreign families and passionate about working together to learn how we can help each other.I love it when we have a new family at school. We have a mentoring program at Upper Blue whereby our fifth grade Ambassadors help new students around the school. Soon, we hope to have new ways of reaching out to welcome the whole family to our community.

When we were in Singapore, we decided to pursue adoption. I used every school holiday to travel around Asia in search of a baby. Taiwan proved to be the least bureaucratic country (we were working without an agency, which you can do when living outside the U.S.). Eighteen months later, I returned to meet my daughter, Abigail, who was 9 months old. Four years later, we adopted Sophie, a 4-month-old.

Probably Mother Teresa. Oh, and my girlfriends who get me skinning up that mountain at 6 a.m.

I would bring 100 orphaned children from tsunami-torn Banda Aceh, Indonesia, to our beautiful town and hire mentor families to feed and house them. Then Id hire 10 more ELL teachers at Upper Blue to take care of them.

Skinning up Peak 8 and running with my dog, Juba, a Rhodesian ridgeback.

I met my husband, Alan, in Egypt, in the shadows of the Great Pyramid.

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