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Alumni Spotlight: Azaria Verdin (’04)

December 26, 2017 / Catherine Nicholas / Blog

Teaching runs in Azaria Verdin (’04)’s family, though she didn’t officially decide to work in education until college. Her mother is a teacher, and first and foremost among the educators who have helped shape her life. “At each stage of my educational career, there were always a couple people who pushed me to be better,” she says. She particularly remembers Mrs. Connie Schuler and Mr. Dan Brown at MLWGS. “Both of them introduced me to subjects that became meaningful to me,” she recalls. “The first time I went to Japan was with Mrs. Schuler, and that trip changed my life. I became a social studies teacher initially because I loved the way Mr. Brown made history relevant and fun. Both of them saw me as a person, and that makes a big difference for a high school student.”

As a student at Middlebury College, Azaria spent a year in Tokyo, Japan. “After I returned from studying abroad, I just felt so blessed to have had the opportunities and experiences that I’d had in high school and college, and all I wanted to do was help other people. I thought teaching would be a good way to give back to my community.” She accepted a Teach for America placement in North Carolina in 2008, and she now teaches Japanese at a public high school in Raleigh.

She says the best part of her job is “watching my students make connections with the language and culture. I teach at a high poverty school, so a lot of my students are kids that normally wouldn’t have access to a foreign language like Japanese, or any Japanese culture at all. However, through my class they see a whole new way of living and communicating, and I love watching them process it.”

Azaria is currently looking forward to taking seventeen students to Japan in 2018. Having taken such a trip in high school herself, she understands what a meaningful experience it can be. “I know the trip will be a pivotal point in the lives of some of the students, and I’m so happy I will get to orchestrate that.”

This profile originally appeared in our 2016-17 annual report.

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