DeKalb County, GA – Georgia Piedmont Technical College Adult Education instructor Sean Denmark has been described as bringing an innovative and relatable presence to his English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom. Denmark uses visual examples and logical descriptions to explain what could be complicated concepts for his students. And now that innovation is being recognized at the state level. Denmark was recently named one of four finalists in the statewide Adult Education Teacher of the Year competition for the Technical College System of Georgia.
Denmark said his time serving in the Peace Corps in Cameroon inspired him to start on his teaching path. After earning his Master of Arts in English Education, he worked as an English and ESL teacher in the Bronx and at a second-chance alternative high school in Manhattan. He eventually left the public school system and earned his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. He soon returned to his first love, teaching adults with little to no understanding of the English language. Denmark says he has empathy for these students, having lived in countries where he also didn’t know the primary language. GPTC’s adult education program has one of the largest ESL student populations in the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).
“I knew adult ESL for immigrants was the perfect fit,” Denmark wrote in his Teacher of the Year application. “It’s very practical, but has an intellectual element in the teaching of grammar and culture. There’s so much to do (reading, writing, listening, speaking), it’s so fun to teach, and there’s always something new to learn and improve on as a teacher.”
Georgia Piedmont’s Vice President of Adult Education Dr. Meghan McBride says her team can always count on Denmark to go above and beyond even the stellar work he does in the classroom.
“Sean has provided professional development for our volunteers, and he has developed his own material to supplement our curriculum,” Dr. McBride said. “He is supportive of other instructors, checking in with them and assisting them if needed and sharing the curricular materials that he develops.”
Denmark has been with GPTC since 2019. After another series of interviews, he and the other finalists will attend a special TCSG event in Atlanta in mid-March where they’ll find out who will be named the statewide winner. Congratulations to Sean Denmark!