Finding her passion

Peddie reminisces on her journey to become an English Learning teacher


English Learning teacher, Amy Peddie, was very nervous when she was told that she would be teaching English for a few of her classes, instead of only teaching French. 20 years later, she can see the impact she has made on her students because of this decision.

“Now, it’s like my favorite thing in the entire world,” Peddie said. “But back then, I just didn’t know what I was doing, so I was afraid.”

She started working at SMS as a French teacher 25 years ago after she majored in this language at the University of Indianapolis. During this time, there were about 30 students in the EL program in Perry Township.

As the popularity on grew for students who were unable to speak English, she was asked to teach them. But Peddie begged the school to let her teach math instead, since she had a minor in it.

“They just assumed because I was a foreign language teacher that I had some skills that I can use to teach,” Peddie said.

Despite her not teaching EL classes before, she was able to get help through the school. Her job sent her to EL training through Indiana University.

Amy Peddie helps sophomore Marwa Khalaf
and her group with a project on May 2 about unusual places that will have to be presented. Each member is assigned a different role. (December Tling)

As soon as she began teaching, she saw rewarding progress in her students. They quickly started to learn English at a faster rate, which reassured Peddie she was doing something right, since much of Peddie’s work as a teacher is to teach kids vocabulary and how to speak. The other ways she tries to see progress in her students is by helping them integrate into the community and culture here at SHS.

With her advanced class, she mentors the students for life after high school and university. This year, she started teaching level one students, meaning they
know little-to-no English. Much of her job is teaching them the basics of English, America customs and acting words out for them.

If Peddie runs into a communication problem with a student, she uses an interpreter or Google Translate. Much of the time, she tries to pair students who speak the same native language so that they can guide one another while learning.

In the beginning of the school year, she shows the students around the building, helps them read and understand their schedules and shows them how the cafeteria works. She also makes sure to always introduce herself to new EL students so they can feel comfortable.

Amy Peddie works with sophomore Meyrin Solis Atunez and her group to answer questions that will help with their presentation on May 2. This project will be counted as a final. (December Tling)

“I think that initial contact with someone from our department through the students getting to see and hear them, allows them to start off on the right foot,” Spanish interpreter Jose Solis said.


Solis met Peddie on his first day at SHS in August 2011. He noticed that she gave tours to students that she had not had in class yet. He once sat in her class and described her work as “coming down to the student’s level,” which makes them more open to learning.


She also dedicates herself to making sure students’ needs are accommodated. Peddie once took a semester of Spanish to communicate more eff effectively with her Spanish speaking students. For languages not as well known, she still  tries to learn a few words from each of the languages so the students in her classes feel comfortable and
somewhat understood.

“I feel like anytime I can learn a few words in a student’s language, that gives me a stronger connection with them or learn something about their culture,” Peddie said.
“I get a stronger connection  with them as a person.”

She has gone as far as visiting Myanmar, where many of her students came from. In 2018, The Burmese American Community Institute sent her to the Chin state to teach English at a college.

From this experience, she gained a larger perspective on how students in different countries learn. In Myanmar, students are taught to memorize everything word by word, and are deducted points if it is not exactly what was taught, so she noticed that some of her students were plagiarizing others’ work.

Senior Cecile Uwinama met Peddie in September of 2020 and says that she would not have made it this far without her. Peddie helped her with her FAFSA account whenever she lost her password and social security information.

“She just showed me you can achieve whatever you want,” Uwinama said.

Although Peddie has gone through days where she thought the kids were not learning  anything, she has seen the progress at the end of the school year and knows she has done her job. She went into this job hesitantly, but now she truly knows she would not trade it for any other position.

“A few years after that, they wanted me to go back to teaching French fulltime,” Peddie said, “and I said, ‘No, thank you. I really love ESL. I would rather you make me a fulltime ESL teacher instead of a French teacher.’”