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Van Nuys’ new ELD teacher: Ms. Swihart

Using her extensive past experience working with students as a counselor at Panorama High School, Ms. Linda Swihart, the new English Language Development teacher, wants to help her students achieve their greatest potential in English and Spanish.

Having been a counselor for eight years, Ms. Swihart decided to become a teacher in order to interact with students in a classroom setting and get away from the paperwork.

She chose Van Nuys High School because of the excellent programs available, the school’s excellent reputation, and the proximity to her house. Ms. Swihart was also excited that Van Nuys offered a host of learning opportunities to students studying English as a Second Language (ESL)

“This was the job I wanted!” she said.

Having to adjust to a new school environment, Ms. Swihart appreciates the help of the administrators, teachers, and students.

“I’ve never been to a better school. The staff is incredibly understanding and the students are very hardworking,” she commented.

Ms. Swihart isn’t afraid of working with young people because she wants to give them the tools to help them become successful. Her motto is, “Don’t be scared. Just do it!”

Even though she’s worked with junior high and adult school students in the past, she believes her one true calling is high school.

She acknowledges that learning English is difficult for many of her students since the English language has 18 vowel sounds while the Spanish language has only five. “A lot of people think that they [ESL students] are not trying, but they are. It’s just difficult,” she said.

As a way to juice up the classroom experience, Ms. Swihart draws a lot of pictures to depict unfamiliar words from the English language. “When the kids ask, ‘What’s a lawnmower?’ I just draw it for them and they’re like, ‘Oh wow!’”

Besides teaching, she loves to indulge in peanut butter and chocolate ice cream at the Golden Spoon. Ice cream happens to be her favorite food. Ms. Swihart exclaims, “Who cares about a tuna sandwich?”

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