Meet English Language Program Director Dr. Valerie Pierce
It's not easy to miss PaGE's new English Language Program (ELP) director's enthusiasm and energy as she roams the halls of PaGE engaging with ELP students. When Valerie Pierce, Ph.D. applied for the Cal State LA position, she assumed that the ELP program was a typical ESL program that hadn't really changed since the 1990's. But after several individual telephone interviews with various members of the PaGE leadership team, she became intrigued by what they said. "They told me about wanting
to create change and bringing new ideas, and a different frame of thinking about ELP. That piqued my interest," says Dr. Pierce. "But then I came to PaGE to interview with the entire leadership team, and met the staff and faculty, and that clinched it! I fell in love with the vision of PaGE."
Dr. Pierce originally was a business major at the University of Florida (UF). Bored with her major, she had had roommates who had studied abroad in China. "They seemed so intriguing especially when they spoke in Chinese. So I took a few Asian studies courses and realized that I what I really wanted was a bachelor's degree in Asian Studies."
After substitute teaching ESL classes and traveling to China to teach spoken English, Dr. Pierce found her calling. She pursued and received her master's degree in linguistics/TESL, also at UF, resulting in her first full-time job at the American Language Academy at Butler University in Indianapolis where she had dual roles culminating in teacher/academic director and interim director.
Dr. Pierce received her doctorate in philosophy, curriculum and instruction from Indiana University Bloomington and subsequently accepted international academic management positions at Kaplan International Colleges, Northern Arizona University (as adjunct professor) and USC.
When asked what she loves about her job at Cal State LA, Dr. Pierce joyfully responds, "What a great team to be on. But in ESL, I love the students! I've taken a break or two from teaching/administration in ESL, but I really miss the students so much, and the teachers, too."
Dr. Pierce sees ESL teachers as a different breed of faculty. "We're part teacher, parent, friend, advisor, actor and psychologist. And ESL programs often become a tight knit group that continues to serve students way after they leave our program."