Buongiorno classe! Mi chiamo Sr. Tedrow: Benvenuti al Liceo Beth-Center.
Italian is just one language Thomas Tedrow ’97, ’15, ’16 can use to greet his students at Beth-Center Senior High in Washington County, Pa.
French and Finnish – yes, Finnish – also roll off his tongue.They both are part of a robust world languages program at Beth-Center that also includes Spanish.
Tedrow majored in French at Cal U. He spent time inFrance teaching English as a second language, and he learned Italian when he studied in Venice while earning his graduate degree.
The Finnish? “I was a Rotary exchange student to Finland,” Tedrow explains.
He introduces that language to his students as part of aComparative Cultures class that includes Scandinavia.
Tedrow worked in finance for 15 years before being drawn back to Cal U by his love of languages. He earned his master’s degree in teaching, with a world language concentration, in 2015, and his M.Ed. inEnglish as a Second Language in 2016.
He developed the Italian program at Beth-Center after principal Aaron Cornell ’97 asked him for ideas to expand the selection of elective courses. The program began last year with 43 students. Italian II is new this year, with levels III and IV to follow.
It’s a rare opportunity for high school students. The National K-12 Foreign Language SurveyReport, which examines world language instruction nationwide, includes figures for 16 languages. Italian isn’t among them.
“Once they realized I could speak Italian in addition to French, our students wanted this class,”Tedrow says. “A lot of them have great-grandparents who were Italian immigrants.”
Tedrow works with Beth-Center learning support teachers Sean Virgili ’96 and Megan Ragaller ’12 to offer world language instruction to their students, too.
“They love learning world languages, and they’re very good at it,” Tedrow says.
“Mr. Tedrow has been amazing with my students,” Ragaller says.“It gives them the opportunity to be social with general education students,and it allowed them to open up and not be so shy with others.
“They have really picked up on the Italian language. I am always so impressed!”
It’s important to offer world language options for all students, Tedrow says, even though Pennsylvania does not require high school students to study a language other than English in order to graduate.
“You can be good at learning a world language just like you can be good at science or math,” Tedrow says.
“At first, some students asked why I would offerItalian, and my response is, ‘Why wouldn’t I offer Italian?’ Exposure to other cultures and languages is very important, and our students deserve to have that opportunity.
“Whether they end up leaving this area or staying close to home, they’ll be better prepared.”