Starting a new teaching job in a state you never taught in is stressful enough.
Add to the list that Abigail Anne Seen will be closing on a house the day after school starts and sending her almost 4-year-old son Logan off to preschool for the first time definitely increases that stress level.
Seen, 35, can’t wait to welcome her 21 fifth-grade students into her classroom at Skyview School of Stem in Windsor when school begins Thursday in the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District.
Seen has something unique to offer her students that she hopes will be invaluable. Born and raised in the Philippines in southeast Asia in a little town called Angeles City, Seen is excited to bring her culture and experiences from another country into the classroom at Skyview, such as Tagalog, the official language of the Philippines.
“We are bilingual. Everybody from The Philippines learns English,” Seen said. “English is our official second language. I am very pumped up and excited to start the school year. I can’t wait to meet my students. The support here has been great. Weld School District has been really supportive. Because of my background and the kind of culture we have there, I am really excited to share my culture and how we do things back there, share my music, our language, our way of life.”
Seen said she wants to show her students how fortunate they are.
“A lot of the children in the Philippines don’t even have the means to go to school, so I’m really excited to share that information with them,” Seen said. “I would really like to promote the country. It has gone through a lot, especially the typhoons that have happened there. Thinking about my family back there and knowing that they’re going to be in harms way, it’s always unsettling. I want to share with my students how life is over there and how fortunate they are that they all have these amazing resources, especially from a STEM school like Skyview Elementary.”
Skyview Principal Tammy Seib said what Seen offers to the Skyview students will be special.
“Her enthusiasm and excitement for what she does is contagious,” said Seib, who hired five new teachers for her staff this year. “We won the lottery with all of our staff this year that we hired. Abby’s going to bring a wealth of that global experience that we just are lacking here. It’s very exciting. She has connections still over in the Philippines, so we’re talking about with those 21st century skills we’re needing to reach out and make sure that we’re making connections with different cultures and understanding because our kids will be working with employers and with cohorts from other cultures. So why not start them now while they’re young and understand how to have those communications, how to break those barriers. It’s going to be fun.”
As a sign of respect and a part of the culture in the Philippines, Seen greets people by calling them “Mister or Miss” before their first names.
Seen moved to the United States in 2006 and was a cultural exchange teacher where she taught first grade for three years in Raeford, N.C. She met her eventual husband, Henry, who was a U.S. Army Special Forces green beret, in North Carolina and they married in 2008. They moved to Fort Lewis, Wash., in 2009 where Henry was stationed, and Seen taught fourth grade at an Indian reservation at Wahelut Indian School in Olympia, Wash., until they moved to Fort Collins in 2013 to be closer to Henry’s two teenage boys. Abigail and Henry also have a 1-year-old son, Sebastian.
Before moving to the U.S., Seen began her teaching career in the Philippines at St. Scholastica’s Academy Catholic School teaching kindergarten through sixth grade for seven years. Seen said the Philippines is categorized as a Third World country. Seen still has two sisters living in the Philippines, and she last made the 22-hour plane ride in 2012.
Bringing the culture of the Philippines to Skyview, such as teaching traditional Filipino music with indigenous musical instruments made by the Filipino tribes — Seen plays the nose flute — is something Seen can’t wait to provide.
“I just want this class to be dynamic and to be exposed to a lot of interesting things, especially about my culture. I can share with my culture some things that these kids haven’t seen,” Seen said. “There are so many things that I can offer to them, and they don’t even have to leave the four corners of the classroom. I can bring it in there.”