Opening a world of possibilities for young minds

Bethany Ramseur, Spanish and AP Capstone Teacher, Hilton Head Preparatory School – Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Article | Hilton Head Island, South Carolina | 25 January 2023
The interruption to the learning experience for students due to Covid-19 has severely impacted them and teachers deeply. New techniques and approaches to learning have been developed to ensure students have all the support they need to succeed. ILO Photo/ Ronnie O'Neill of Hilton Head Preparatory School
“I'm very proud to say that I work at Hilton Head Prep” beams Bethany Ramseur, a high school Spanish and English teacher at Hilton Head Preparatory School.

Hilton Head Prep is located on the south end of the island and is recognised as the best boarding school in South Carolina. “We are an international boarding school with students coming from Brazil, China, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Vietnam” Mrs. Ramseur says with pride.

As a seasoned educator with a decade of experience, Bethany grew up in Texas, Mississippi, and later Vermont with her parents and four siblings. She says her love for languages, specifically Spanish and Latin, began when she was a high school student.

Before she fell in love with learning languages, Bethany thought she would become a dolphin trainer. “Growing-up I loved watching Jack Hanna’s shows and I wanted to actually be a dolphin trainer!” she exclaims with a sparkle in her eyes and a big grin.

“I grew up in Dallas and Jackson where my parents chose to home school me and my four siblings. Later when I was ten years old, we moved to Vermont where the public schools were excellent and so there I attended middle school and high school” Bethany reminisces.

“In high school I was actually the only student that took all four years of Latin and Spanish. I really loved Spanish,” she emphasizes. “I don’t know why but it just grabbed me even though I don’t come from a Spanish-speaking family.”

Bethany went on to earn her master’s degree in Latin American Literature from the University of Georgia and had a teaching assistantship in Spanish Language Department. Although she loved what she was doing, she felt she had “been teaching for so long and wanted to try something else.”

With an international student body, Hilton Head Preparatory provides rigorous educational experience and sports to prepare these young students for many top universities. ILO Photo/ Lara Garniewicz
Her love of the Spanish language would lead Bethany to pursue an undergraduate degree in Spanish from Berry College in Georgia. While attending Berry college she was able to study abroad in Mexico, Peru, and Argentina. This unique experience helped her become more comfortable speaking Spanish as well as better understand the cultures and people in those countries.

“I sold insurance for a year and absolutely hated it,” she recalls. After confirming to herself that she really enjoyed teaching languages, she applied for teaching jobs and was hired by Hilton Head Prep in 2013.

In talking about the skills for success as an educator, Ramseur highlights her academic qualifications, as well as her various certifications including “her certification to teach AP level courses”. Equally important was the need to have good communication skills so that she can connect and engage with students.

“I can't connect with the kids if I'm not current. When I see the students on their phones, I'm like ‘hey talk to me about that. Who is that?’. We had a girl at our school last year who is now a TikTok star and earns more than most people” Bethany says amusedly.

Bethany says that education flows in both directions and it is essential to stay current with technology. She adds that it is also key to discuss classroom design strategies to promote student engagement. “How do we set up our classrooms? We don't want these rows of desks, we want kids collaborating, and they need to talk. They are not really interested in hearing us talk, students want to talk to each other, and we need to facilitate that,” she emphasizes.

As an educator, Bethany agrees that skilling and upskilling are very important. She served as the State President for the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP), and before that their Communications Coordinator, both volunteer positions.

As a teacher, Bethany Ramseur (center of picture) has undertaken professional training for additional certifications. The challenge often is finding time between the demands of work and raising a family. ILO Photo/ College of Charleston
Currently, her professional development is from networking with various teachers at conferences and trainings but this difficult with a family. With two young children, she is unable to be an active participant in as many trainings and conferences as she would like.

When asked how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed education and created a range of challenges for teachers, Bethany states that “the primary challenge for me as a teacher post-Covid has been relearning how to teach. Children missed many developmental milestones, and socially children are struggling.”

During Covid-19 pandemic, Bethany worked for Hilton Head Prep remotely until May 2020. After that, teachers were back in the classroom, but students were on a hybrid schedule. So they switched between coming to school and being online, but teachers were always in the classroom and had their lesson recorded for students to review later.

“That continued partly into the last school year. And now we record our classes only when providing new instructions. So we still have the cameras in our classrooms, but we turn them off now for student conversations and things like that,” she adds.

As far as the lingering effects that the pandemic has had on students, Ramseur notes that it has certainly affected “how students learn and behave in a school environment.” Connecting in person she says, “has also become more difficult for kids as they seem to be more dependent on their cell phones” than before the pandemic.

It is easy to see Ramseur’s’ passion and dedication to her students and her professionalism as an educator. However, reconciling work and family responsibilities has been a challenge especially childcare which has been extremely difficult and expensive.

“In an ideal world, work should bridge the need to be able to provide for your family and the sense of pride in where I am in my life and what I'm doing” she adds.