New Jersey native Alexis Gitman has always loved the theatrical arts.
After completing a Fine Arts degree at Rutgers University, she worked as a freelance stage manager for plays, musicals, operas and dance shows, and even spent a year as an events planner in the casinos of Atlantic City. But beyond the glamor of the stage, she felt drawn to another calling — teaching.
While working toward a Master's in order to teach English, a Birthright Israel trip opened her eyes to the possibility of teaching it to speakers of foreign languages instead. "I realized that we're becoming increasingly global, and right now, English is the world's primary language of communication," Alexis says. "Communication is at the basis of understanding — it is how we get to know the 'other.' And it's at the heart of the arts."
Within 24 hours of landing in the U.S. after her Birthright experience, she found TAU's Master's in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and applied.
As part of the program, Alexis works two to three days a week at a high school in Holon helping students to better their English skills — an experience that she finds tremendously rewarding, noting that speakers of other languages are often highly motivated to learn English, and make for enthusiastic students. And the freedom of choosing her own lesson plan allows for a great deal of creativity, she says. As long as students are learning the language, just about all topics and activities are welcome in her classroom.
Though the course has a demanding schedule that combines class time and teaching experience, Alexis feels lucky to be learning in such an inspiring environment. "The staff is globally known in the field of linguistics. They are at the top of the field and very passionate about what they do. Really, it's an honor to work with them."
Once she finishes her Masters, she'll pursue a teaching certificate. In the long-term, she hopes to combine her passions for teaching and theatre at schools that are oriented towards the arts, where she can teach the English language through drama programs.