“I loved my undergraduate experience at UGA. I love Athens and the campus. I was living and working in Athens-I took a three-year break between undergrad and grad school-and so when I started thinking about going back to school, UGA was the natural choice.”
Claire Simless is a proud Double Dawg and recently graduated from the University of Georgia College of Education with a M.Ed. in TESOL and World Language Education. She lives in Athens and teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) at a local nonprofit called Casa de Amistad; Casa de Amistad offers ESL and GED classes to immigrants in the Athens area. There, Simless’ priority is teaching English to adults, but she has taught many young learners as well. She has a passion for her work and hopes to spread her knowledge beyond that of teaching English as a second language. Her goal is to work more broadly in immigrant and refugee resettlement.
Simless’ first experience with online courses was in her first semester in the M.Ed. program. Although she was a bit hesitant at first, she look a leap of faith by enrolling in the online courses and ended up enjoying her experience. Simless appreciated the interactiveness and flexibility of her online classes, and she enjoyed being able to connect with and build relationships with other online students.
She took both online and in-person classes, and she had many classmates who took both as well, which helped to build connections with her fellow peers. She discovered that even in the online classes there was a lot of discussion and group work; this also helped her meet others and enhanced her learning experience.
Simless initially questioned how much communication she would have with her professors, but the experience reassured her. While it can vary depending on class set-up, Simless found she has created meaningful relationships with her professors.
“I’m currently in the job search process for my next career step, and my professors have asked to be updated about that,” said Simless. “My program felt like a family, and I’m very grateful for that. It was a really great experience!”
Outside of work, Simless enjoys taking her dog, Rufio, to parks and going on hikes in the mountains. She also likes to read and is starting to learn to watercolor paint. Simless also enjoys traveling, and recently took a cross-country road trip with a friend who was moving coast to coast. They started in L.A. and drove all the way home to Georgia.
Sharing her wisdom and knowledge with speakers of other languages, Simless is changing lives in and around her community. Education and teaching is a valuable tool, and Simless credits her experience at the University of Georgia for allowing her to do what she loves.