Therese Tucker is originally from Helena, Montana, and graduated with a degree in French from Montana State University in 2000 after having spent a year each in Montpellier, France and Kumamoto, Japan during her undergraduate studies. After college, she worked for a year as an Americorps*VISTA Volunteer in Springfield, Massachusetts and became involved with and gained a lot of perspective through a local organization called ARISE for Social Justice.
When her year of service was up, a fellow VISTA gave her a buddy pass free plane ticket that she used to go to Guatemala to work and study Spanish. She lived in a small village called Todos Santos for eight months and it was there that she began to understand just how deep of a contribution immigrants make to the United States. Literally, every person in the village had a family member in the United States and most of them were undocumented. After returning from Central America she moved to Seattle to work as a Case Manager and English as a Second Language instructor for adults at an immigrant and refugee resettlement center. Having been a “stranger in a strange land” herself, Therese feels solidarity with immigrants in the United States and has found teaching English to be the most readily applicable way to support immigrants in Montana.
From Seattle, she went to UMass-Amherst to obtain her Masters in Bilingual, ESL, Multicultural Education and a K-12 teaching license. While in Massachusetts, Therese taught 8th and 4th grade English Language Learning students in Springfield and Amherst, MA.
Therese has now been back in Montana for two and a half years and has worked for most of that time with the Office of Public Instruction. In that role, she wore many hats – from legislative assistant to helping kick off Superintendent Denise Juneau’s Graduation Matters Montana initiative. She is most proud, however, of her work offering professional development for teachers of students who are English Language Learners and for her work helping to write the Guidance document for Montana school districts on their legal responsibilities to serve “Limited English Proficient” students (the federal designation for English Language Learners) where there had previously been none.
Therese is beginning her first year as a Spanish teacher at Helena High School this September.