Lions' Digest Winter Issue 03 2020

lionsdigest1

07.

MORE THAN A TEACHER:

LISA HARPSTER

BY ADRITA TALUKDER & MARISSA XU

It can be hard to think of teachers as

anything more than “teachers.” In a

normal school year, we’re in and out of their

classrooms for 90 minutes every other day, and

for many, those 90 minutes are spent staring at

the clock, waiting for the minutes to pass by. If

they’re lucky, students get the chance to crack a

few jokes with their teachers here and there. For

the especially fortunate, they get to really talk

with their teachers. Students might share a part

of themselves, and in turn, get to know a bit

about their teacher outside of the classroom. For

those who partake in these conversations, one

thing is made clear: teachers lead as rich a life

outside the classroom as students do. This

certainly rings true for Lisa Harpster, an English

as a Second Language (ESL) teacher who, when

she’s not in school, is an avid artist and local

business owner.

Even in high school, Harpster was

immersing herself in the worlds of art and ESL.

If she wasn’t painting, you’d probably find her

dancing, and when she had time, she would

volunteer in the ESL classroom for extra credit

for her World Cultures class. Her experiences in

the classroom were eye-opening.

“I just loved being around people from all

over the world, and I think I realized how

narrow my view was, and how small of a town I

was in when I started to meet more and more

people from all over the world and all different

cultures,” Harpster said.

Harpster carried her experiences from high

school with her, and when she realized she

wanted to go back to school after acting in New

York for a period of time, she had an idea of the

path she wanted to tread.

“I loved the ESL classroom and I knew I

loved art, so I knew I wanted to be either an art

teacher or an ESL teacher,” Harpster said.

Linda Barton, who had been Harpster’s

World Cultures teacher in high school,

introduced her to the Professional Development

School (PDS) intern program at Penn State. It

was Barton’s last year teaching, and after

Harpster finished the program, she filled the

position. She now teaches at State High, and

through her years of teaching, there have been a

few stand out moments that she’ll never forget.

“I got this long email from a student and it

went to me and it went to my colleague, Andy

Wilson, who teaches ESL Social Studies,”

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