Spotlight on English Learner Teacher Angelina Gillispie '20, '21G

Kassidy Taylor
Headshot of UNH Manchester teaching alumna Angelina Gillispie '20, '21G

Angelina Gillispie ’20, ’21G always had a passion for reading and writing—and combined with her love of children, teaching seemed like the perfect job. But it was during her college journey at UNH Manchester that she found her true calling in the field.

“As I went through college and took on different experiences, I realized my passion was working with English Language Learners, aspiring to help them with both the cognitive and cultural load that comes with being an immigrant or refugee student in America,” Angelina says.

Angelina transferred to UNH Manchester after two years at another institution, planning to become an English teacher. After accepting a work study opportunity to be an English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) tutor at Manchester Central High School, her career path became clear.

“The students I met and had the honor of working with changed my life and my perspective as an educator in the best of ways,” Angelina says. “I knew that I wanted to dedicate my time as an educator working with students who came from diverse backgrounds and who had so much to offer.”

As a person of color who grew up in a predominantly white environment, Angelina says she had a difficult time connecting to her own teachers. She knew from experience that fostering meaningful, authentic connections with students from diverse backgrounds can help them see their true potential.

“I hope that after my class, students are able to see that they are capable of so much than they may have thought possible,” she says. “I want them to know that their voices matter, and they are needed in this country to make positive impacts.”

Angelina earned a bachelor’s degree in English teaching in 2020 and a Master of Arts in Teaching in 2021. After working as an English Learner (EL) teacher at an inner-city high school in Springfield, Mass., she accepted her current role as an EL/English teacher at a middle school in northern Virginia. Outside the classroom, she and her partner keep busy with their newborn son and dog.

A first-generation college student, Angelina credits her time at UNH Manchester for fostering the confidence, experiences and connections to pursue her dreams of becoming a teacher. She came here for the small class sizes and proximity to home, and she found a tight-knit, welcoming community where she could excel. Angelina’s advice to UNH Manchester students is to be open to what’s possible.

“Do not shy away from experiences that will challenge you, as they will only help you to grow,” she says. “Lean on your professors and staff, as they truly do care about your journey.”

Angelina carries that sentiment into her own classroom, focused on cultivating meaningful relationships with her students. By building their trust and confidence, she seeks to engage and empower underrepresented youth.

“I am able to help students, especially those who have historically been at the margins, see that they can achieve and conquer so much,” Angelina says. “This is my reason for teaching and what I am most proud of.”