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A Look Back With: Charlene Potter

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Growing up, Instructor Charlene Potter, who teaches ESL, Linguistics and French, never thought that she would end up being a teacher but found her passion for it while working part-time in a government sponsored program called the Monitor program in western Canada.

Antonio Gandara / Courier  Charlene Potter never thought about becoming a teacher, however, she found her passion for teaching after working in a French elementary school in Canada. Potter is now an ESL instructor at PCC.

Antonio Gandara / Courier 

Charlene Potter never thought about becoming a teacher, however, she found her passion for teaching after working in a French elementary school in Canada. Potter is now an ESL instructor at PCC.

There she taught for four years as an undergraduate. The first two years she worked in a French elementary school. The last two years she worked in a French high school. “I never considered myself a teacher but the program was awesome,” said Potter.

President of the French club Carlos Herrera, music, says that Potter is an exceptional teacher. “She always [came] to class very [enthusiastic], ready to teach, and passionate about what she taught,” said Herrera in an email.

Potter grew up in a small town outside Calgary. Unlike in the United States, community colleges don’t exist in Canada. “If you go to a college…you don’t transfer to a university. That’s unheard of,” said Potter.

Potter chose to study linguistics at Ottawa University, a bilingual university where students can take classes in either English or French. There she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in linguistics.

Reflecting on her years in college Potter said, “One of the important things [about] the University of Ottawa is that…before you get a degree [there] you have to be fluent in both languages.”

She said that the best thing about her experience was the two jobs she held.  Besides the teaching, Potter had a job working as a clerk at Parliament Hill, which is the equivalent of working at Capitol Hill.

One of Potter’s job duties was accepting top-secret documents from the Prime Minister for the Minister of National Defense. “It was kind of a prestigious job for a student,” said Potter. “Part of my job was to sign for those documents… The delivery guy would come and the documents would be hand-cuffed to his hand…So I had a top-secret government clearance which was pretty cool for a student.”

Potter said the worst thing about college was that she had no idea that dropping classes was an option.

While Potter has no regrets, if she could go back and change one thing about herself she would have found more information on the university’s policies.

The most interesting thing about college for Potter was her transportation from her job at Parliament Hill to the Carleton University where she was doing her graduate work.

In the winter she would skate on the Rideau Canal, which is four or five miles long. “It’s the longest skating rink in the world,” said Potter. “I used to skate to… school…It[was] awesome…having my job at one end and my school at the other end.”

Potter inspired Herrera to the extent that he started theFrench club.

“Potter is one of our faculty advisers because I felt that she would be able to offer students a different perspective of the French language. Not just [from the point of] a different dialect but a linguistic approach as well,” said Herrera.

“Her versatility makes her a very valuable asset…We are very glad that she has invested some of her time to help us carry out our activities and to help us improve our French communication skills.”

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