Today, we’d like to introduce you to Scott Saks, a Spanish teacher from New Jersey, who has traveled extensively with ACIS since 2012, along with his colleagues Amanda Brown and Laura Wright. Besides having a passion for Spanish and History, Scott enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with his family.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Scott! Let’s start things off by learning more about you. What has been the most rewarding aspect of teaching thus far in your career?
Scott: I just completed my 9th year of teaching and the most rewarding thing has been those students who have graduated that come back to thank me for preparing them for college. In some cases, students have even decided to pursue a career using the Spanish language.
What made you want to become a teacher?
Scott: It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. A recent conversation with one of my teachers reminded me that I talked to her about wanting to teach history when I was in 7th grade. Today in my classes, I incorporate history, culture and geography into my lessons daily.
You’ve led a number of trips abroad with ACIS. What have you found to be the best part about bringing a group of students on a tour?
Scott: My favorite part is when we are walking around town, in a museum or at a monument and I hear the kids discussing how they learned about these concepts or the culture in class. I also enjoy watching the students converse with the locals whether it be bartering at the market in Peru or ordering food during lunch in Madrid. This past Peru trip, on top of Machu Picchu, one student mentioned to us that, “this was the best day of her life.”
What do you hope your students will get out of traveling abroad?
Scott: I hope it will bring the textbook and the classroom to life and that they too will develop a love of travel. I had a mother who wrote me recently to tell me that after our 2012 trip to Spain, her daughter had such a wonderful time that she caught the “travel bug” and then traveled with ACIS again to England with a colleague of mine.
Has a tour ever changed the life of one of your students in a small or significant way? Maybe it changed your life?
Scott: The first time I traveled was in college. I remember when my professor was watching me from a distance converse in Spanish with one of the local Costa Ricans on the beach. After that moment, he came up to me and told me that “I made the connection.” I also see my students make the connections when we travel when they are talking with the locals! When we get back to school, they tell me that our trips helped them with their Spanish class, with a history class, an art class etc…!
If you had to convince another teacher to bring students on an ACIS tour, what would you say to them?
Scott: The students are not the only ones learning from the tour guides, but the chaperones are as well. The perspectives and practices that we learn from the trip can be passed on to our students back in the classroom.
What has been your favorite travel experience when you’re not traveling with ACIS?
Scott: Traveling to Costa Rica every year with my family is my favorite travel experience. My 10-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter have had a chance to travel to Costa Rica each year since they’ve been born. I love sharing new experiences with them when they travel as they grow up in a bilingual home, whether we visit a zoo, an animal sanctuary, see the monkeys on the beach, take a local bus into town, eat in a local restaurant or visit the ox carts!
What is one piece of advice you would give a student who is about to travel abroad for the first time?
Scott: When we are preparing to travel, one thing we ask the students to do is limit the amount of technology they bring with them. Enjoy the views, sounds, tastes of what you’re going to experience when you’re abroad! Then reflect on your experiences whether it’s with another student or by keeping a journal of your trips.
What is one piece of advice you would give a teacher thinking about traveling with students?
Scott: It may seem like a very daunting task to set up the trip but your ACIS travel consultant will make sure you’re prepared with upcoming events to set yourself up accordingly for the trip. Once you leave, relax and watch your students taking advantage of the hard work you put in preparing them for their journey.
A big thank you to Scott for taking the time to tell us about his travel experiences.
If you’re interested in learning more about ACIS Group Leaders from around the country, visit our YouTube channel for videos and short clips.