“There’s nothing quite like the feeling an educator gets when teaching students who become excited about learning,” said Kara Dohring, a Spanish instructor at RLS Middle School.

“The excitement comes from really seeing the students get fired up over something they’ve never seen or experienced before,” she said. “Teaching a foreign language helps to open up the students to new opportunities, new points of view, a new way of seeing the world.

“I want to work with students, which is where the thrill is. No day teaching is ever the same. We keep what works and what’s research-based while staying open to change. The changes in technology, brain research and ways students learn influence how we teach.

“At RLS we see ourselves as a community of learners. We’re not only teaching, we also learn from our students, from each other, from our training and from our administration. We are all working together for the students, willing to take a look at something new.”

Dohring was raised on a farm in Modesto and attended UC Davis from 1982-86, majoring in international relations, with a minor in Spanish. She spent her junior year in Spain, earned her bilingual teaching credential at UC San Diego and later married Paul Dohring, a local attorney.

Kara Dohring began teaching for St. Helena Unified in 1991, first teaching bilingual first grade then helping to develop the district’s Dual Immersion Program. She left in 1997 to raise a family and returned three years ago.

In the interim, she taught English to adults, part time for Calistoga Joint Unified School District. She and her friend Stephanie Zuntz also started a business, Cultured Kids, providing enrichment programs, such as summer camps, to spark kids’ interest in world cultures, foreign languages, theater and art.

When she returned to the district and started teaching at RLS, Kara used her skills to teach beginning and advanced Spanish to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. She said she is encouraged by recent studies that show a multilingual brain is nimbler, quicker and better able to deal with ambiguities and resolve problems. Bilingual individuals not only have an extra skill to use when traveling or seeking a job, they also can benefit from significant cognitive advantages.

Dohring praised the St. Helena community for being so involved in the education of children: “The people are involved here and love to support us. We all want what is best for the students. We have the resources, the support of the parents and the community, great facilities, a professional administration and teachers who really feel passionate about working with our wonderful young people.”

(This article was provided by the St. Helena Unified School District.)

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