After an exciting intensive study abroad experience in Greece during her senior year at Goucher, Laura Penchansky was inspired to return to Europe. Today, Penchansky is back in Greece, after beating out 194 other applicants for a position teaching English in the Greek independent school system, one of the most distinguished school systems in Athens.
Penchansky graduated from Goucher in 2002 with a degree in international and intercultural studies. Immediately following graduation, Penchansky headed to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where she obtained a M.S. Ed education degree and certification in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). While planning her next move, Penchansky’s previous experience abroad set off a light bulb.
“After studying abroad in Greece for six weeks, I was really looking for a way to get back,” says Penchansky.
Opportunity knocked in 2004, after Penchansky was hired by the Hellenic American Educational Foundation to teach through the Athens TESOL program. Currently, she co-teaches, substitutes, and hosts a number of other academic and extracurricular activities for Greek students. She also provides lessons in language, grammar skills, and literature to Greek junior high and high school students. Penchansky says this is one of the most rewarding parts of her job, as she has been able to build great relationships with her students.
“One of my most memorable experiences was working with a class of 11th grade boys who argued that all English words have Greek roots whenever I was teaching grammar or language skills. It’s a lot of fun,” says Penchansky.
In addition to snagging her dream job, Penchansky had the opportunity to attend four Summer Olympic events during the 2004 Games in Athens, an experience she’s always wanted to have. When she’s not teaching or taking night classes in Greek, French, Italian and tae kwon do, Penchansky explores the mainland and islands of Greece, and travels to countries all over the region.
When Penchansky returns from Greece this year, she plans to obtain her teaching certificate in social studies, as well as a second master’s degree in history at Millersville University. Her future plans include working toward a Ph.D. in linguistic anthropology, and she also hopes to continue teaching English in South America and Israel.