A new step

A member of the Class of 2016 who intends to pursue a career in education will spend the next year living and teaching in Malaysia with the support of a Fulbright English Teaching Award.

Elisabeth “Lissy” Hodge said she came to Wheaton with the intention of working toward becoming a teacher “because some of my strongest childhood memories are of classroom activities and interactions with teachers. I love learning in general and want to help students discover the joy of learning.”

The resident of Fairway, Kansas, graduated with honors in education this May, having completed a senior thesis exploring implicit gender bias in elementary school mathematics instruction. She also earned a Department of Theatre Studies and Dance Award for Dance, in recognition of her leadership in the college’s dance program.

A double major in elementary education and mathematics, Hodge said teachers are also learners, and she looks forward to the opportunity to teach high school students in Malaysia and to learn from the experience.

“There are so many invaluable lessons to be gained from students all over the world. I enjoy discovering the nuances of their cultures, but also the similarities among all students and the ways in which they learn,” she said.

The upcoming year in Malaysia will not be her first experience teaching abroad. With support from the college’s Davis International Fellowship program, she traveled in the summer of 2015 to Mauritius, a mainly French-speaking island east of Madagascar in Africa, to serve as program director for an English education program run by Learning Enterprises (LE), an international nonprofit. She volunteered at the school as a teacher during the previous summer, with support from an internship stipend awarded to Wheaton’s Trustee Scholars.

Hodge also amassed teaching experience closer to home. She served as a teaching assistant at a private school near her home, worked as a tutor with a middle school student near campus and spent her final semester at Wheaton as a student teacher in fifth grade classrooms at the Henri A. Yelle Elementary School in Norton.

Active in a number of campus pursuits, Hodge served as co-captain of the Wheaton College Dance Company; a teaching assistant to Cheryl Mrozowski, professor and director of dance, for ballet; a four-year member of the Education Club; a member of the college Programming Council; and a member of the Emerson Feminist Perspectives House. She also was an active member of the college’s May Fellows, a Wheaton organization for high-achieving scholars, and she worked in the Admission Office throughout her career at the college.

“I am certain that I will learn as much or more from my students and their teachers as they will learn from me,” she said, adding that she hopes to learn the Malay language and traditional dance during the next year.

The Fulbright award, she said, is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience, acclimate to, and teach in a part of the world that is new to me.”