Ms. Bonnie Westwater Retires

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, into a world of foreign language, Bonnie Westwater began her journey and her love for language at a very young age. Westwater lived in Spain until she was eight.

She started her teach career in Seattle, then moved shortly after to Flagstaff, Arizona, where she taught for fifteen years. Arizona was where she began to teach both French and Spanish at both the middle school and the high school levels. Before Harwood she taught at Montpelier High School and Middle school. Westwater has been teaching at Harwood for thirteen years.

She has attended Castleton and UVM. “My first degree was in international studies with a focus on Latin America,” said Westwater, who enjoys teaching all of her classes, but has a special place in her heart for seventh graders, “When they come in everything is so new to them and they’re so excited. Sometimes I tell my colleagues that it’s almost like having kindergarteners.” She enjoys her seniors and advanced Spanish classes too, “I like the maturity and I like the advanced material [Of The Spanish Honors courses]. I can communicate with them, and vise versa, and I get excited to see them graduate, where they are going to go and where life is going to take them, and if they are using language in their studies. Most of these students I have taught for four years, so their is a strong connection.”

Over the last few years, Westwater has been involved in professional development. She has traveled to Cuba and Costa Rica with educators from Vermont. “I would like to keep traveling and learning when I retire. I have applied to a few travel companies. Road Scholar, which is a travel program for seniors. It allows us to travel all over the world. You take classes and are immersed in the culture,” said Westwater.

Westwater would like to keep using her French and Spanish more than she is using it right now. She still plans on tutoring at GMVSl. She’s thought about teaching adults using the storytelling method, possibly going abroad and teaching English in a Spanish-speaking country.

Westwater loves it when students get excited about language and who are trying to improving, “When students get ‘something,’ more than just a word, when they start to get phrases and answer in sentences. It is such a great feeling when students are able to communicate in a different language,” she adds, “Students are fortunate to have so many electives and core classes. I think they have wonderful opportunities here. I like my colleagues a lot, whom we work and share our resources. This is my fourth school and the food here is amazing, we are very fortunate to have to food here that we do.”

Westwater is amazed by the amount of travel programs here, “There are so many opportunities to travel to Italy and Greece, art trips, and Rwanda. Not every school has these experiences, and I strongly promote the Rotary program as well. We have a lot of exchange students which enriches our experiences here,” said Westwater.