March 28, 2018

Scott Freiberger ‘10 received the 2018 Teacher of the Year Award at the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) International Conference & English Language Expo in Chicago. Freiberger has earned three master’s degrees – one from the TESOL program at UCF – and certifications in TESOL (K-12) for use in Florida and New York. He has been an educator in the United States and East Asia for two decades, and currently works at John Browne Elementary School of Global Studies in New York City.

While starting his career teaching English as a second language (ESL) at Queens College of CUNY, Freiberger felt “a deep sense of accomplishment empowering special needs students to succeed.” He has since then had the drive to help students throughout his professional life, especially when he taught at-risk youth at a Title I high school (an institution with a high number of children from low-income families).

“Motivating at-risk youth to succeed continues to inspire me,” said Freiberger. “My classroom has become a haven for learning, and I actively encourage students to endeavor in education and conceive of their schooling as a springboard to a better life.”

Freiberger has also taken his knowledge and passion for English instruction overseas. As a teacher in China and Japan for ten years, he developed a respect for other languages and cultures and refined his skill for teaching English to speakers of other languages – a skill that UCF’s TESOL program helped cultivate.

“The targeted TESOL training I had received at [UCF] provided a solid foundation upon which to build critical cognitive and instructional skills and enhance my overall pedagogy,” said Freiberger.

Freiberger’s fluency in Mandarin and proficiency in Spanish, Japanese and Korean has helped him better connect with and educate his predominantly bilingual student population. He translates for parents of students during meetings, and even provides free assistance to working parents and families outside of regular school hours.

During his convention session at TESOL 2018, “Enhancing Curriculum Access and Classroom Equity Through Academic Language,” Freiberger discussed ways that educators can incorporate academic language into their classrooms. Through his research, Freiberger has determined that “[instructing students] in academic language not only increases students’ communicative competence, but it also improves vocabulary knowledge and verbal expression.”

Keith Folse, Professor of TESOL, recognized the impressive distinction TESOL is awarding Freiberger.

“It is an honor that our program has produced the teacher of the year for our entire international organization,” said Folse.

When asked what advice he would give fledgling TESOL professionals, Freiberger suggested that they be passionate, be empathic, and continuously expand their knowledge. By planning his lessons at least three weeks in advance and arriving to class early to study areas of student growth which need further attention, Freiberger practices what he preaches.

“[Never] stop believing that you can be the change that you seek to inspire in others,” said Freiberger.

A Master of Arts in TESOL prepares students to teach ESOL in the United States and abroad through courses in language acquisition, use, and pedagogy. Freiberger’s story is an example of the many opportunities within the TESOL field, from work overseas and in community colleges to positions in private and public schools.

Category: Alumni, Highlight

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