A 2009 alumnus of PUC, Andrea Rivas Perry has a passion for teaching. After graduating, she earned her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction and taught at Hinsdale Adventist Academy in Illinois for a few years. She then moved to the West Coast and now teaches six classes at Central Valley Christian Academy, and as a previous elementary school teacher and current high school teacher, Perry says that teaching gives her life purpose.
“When I was starting college, I thought about the big picture of my life,” Perry writes. “What do I do with the life that God gave me? We’re only on this earth for a short time, so how can I best serve Him with the skills he gave me? And teaching is that for me. And yes, there are those who try my patience or whose stories leave me heartbroken and in tears, but that just means they need the love and guidance all the more.”
Perry first gained her love for teaching through her job as a Spanish teacher at Hinsdale Academy. “I am actually half Costa Rican (my dad was born and raised there until he was 11), so I have always been interested in the Spanish language as part of my heritage. As a student at PUC, Andrea took advantage of what ACA offers and studied in Spain. She says, “Then I was so close to getting a minor that I continued my language studies to finish it. With the minor and passing the oral exam through the department it was added to my teaching credential.”
Perry states, “Teaching Spanish is totally different from teaching English literature classes. I love that we get to regress and learn like little kids learn language. I feel like we get to know each other a lot better in Spanish class and mistakes are more easily laughed off. It’s a lot of fun!”
Although she thoroughly enjoys being a full-time teacher, Perry reminisces about her experiences at PUC and says that the classes helped propel her to succeed in both her professional life and her grad school career. “When I went to grad school and had to write and defend an 85-page thesis, I had no trouble with the nuts and bolts of writing, formatting, etc. The writing instruction I received at PUC gets the credit for that. As far as literature goes, I do actually teach a few of the texts we read in college, specifically in AP. Also, I really enjoyed working for Dr. Maria Rankin-Brown as her reader and being part of the quirky Stauffer Hall staff.” She especially remembers fondly the ways in which her professors were relaxed around English majors. “They weren’t at all pretentious.”
In retrospect, Perry says that she loves English as a whole because it best prepares students for any field they decide to go into. “It fosters conversations of relevant issues to their lives,” Perry smiles, “which we can discuss from a Christian worldview, predominantly through the study of literature.”
Perry keeps her passion alive by viewing her role as that of a mentor for her students: “My prayer each day is that I can be God’s hands and feet to my kids and that if I’m the only Jesus they ever see that I represent Him well.”