Watson Chronicle


Student Opportunities and Student News

Students in the Spotlight: Abbey Starling and Matt Hilton

Monday, November 18, 2013

Abbey Starling

Congratulations to UNCW Award Recipient Abbey Starling!UNCW Award Recipient Abbey Starling

Abbey Starling, a secondary education student majoring in English and International Studies, is the 2013 recipient of UNCW’s Global Citizenship Student Award. This prestigious award was created by the Office of International Programs to recognize students who demonstrate a commitment to internationalization.

Since arriving on the UNCW campus, Abbey has spent a summer in Chili, worked as a conversational partner for an ESL student through the Office of International Programs and tutored a student from Burma during a field experience at Wire in downtown Wilmington. Additional experiences include partnering with a UNCW student from Korea on an assignment to share learning of different cultures and education systems, and visiting New Mexico as a Wentworth Fellow to study how location affects Native American authors. Research projects include a study of Latinos in North Carolina, and an examination of the opportunity gap many poor students and students of color experience in the United States.

WCE professor Robert Smith met Abbey in the spring of 2012 when she enrolled in his SEC 200 course, Teacher, School and Global Society, and he described Abbey’s passion for learning about people from diverse backgrounds and countries as “refreshing.” Smith says Abbey takes seriously the academic study of people, languages and culture, has a strong sense of service and a desire to use her knowledge and skills to help others.

Global perspectives is a core value of the Watson College of Education, and the college is thrilled to have a pre-service teacher recognized for her passion and work to become a true global citizen. Congratulations Abbey!
To view Abbey’s poem, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVYW2DNZyo0

Matt Hilton Matt Hilton Brings Math, ESL Skills to His Work as a High School Teacher

Matt Hilton’s vision is to teach Spanish-speaking English Second Language (ESL) students algebra and geometry. Hilton graduated from UNCW in 2012 with B.S. in math, a minor in computer science, and a license to teach secondary education. This fall, he’s teaching at Ashley High School while working toward a Masters of Education, specialty topic ESL, at the Watson College.

Hilton says he planned a career in computer science, but after helping young children learn to play ice hockey during his senior year of high school in Keene, N.H., he decided to re-think it. “I couldn’t really see myself sitting at a desk all day,” Hilton says. “And, working one-on-one with children was rewarding. I got to experience their excitement as they mastered skills and it made me realize helping kids is a great way to make a difference.”

Several professors also influenced Hilton’s career choice. He credits advisor Kelli Slaten with fostering his love of math and says Eleni Pappamihiel and Charles Lynn piqued his interest in diversity and ESL. Hilton says he appreciates the enthusiasm and accessibility of faculty at UNCW. “They have lots of different experiences and perspectives to share, and collaborate closely with students as we work to develop our own philosophy and style.”

Hilton found another mentor in Tamara Workman, his internship partnership teacher at Ashley High School in 2011. He says she’s tough but humanizes math stories in a way that’s both memorable and engaging. Hilton enjoys teaching Algebra 1, a course he says some teachers avoid because it’s so heavily tested. He also enjoys ESL and is working with four Ashley students from Honduras.

Hilton’s career objective is to combine math and ESL. Although North Carolina is an English-only state where students are generally pulled out for concentrated instruction in English, Hilton believes he can be a more effective educator by bringing a bilingual approach to core content instruction.

Matt Hilton with a student and their father

Hilton appreciates the many opportunities he’s had for hands-on learning at UNCW. He says each school, each class and each student are different, “so the more experience the better.” In addition to teaching at Ashley, with encouragement from Slaten, he presented concepts for motivating students in algebra at two recent National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) events. Over the summer he participated in the WCE international field experience in Costa Rica led by Debbie Powell, where he began learning Spanish. He volunteered at the Digital Storytelling Event hosted by the TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) and English Education programs, along with Centro Hispano and WCE last May, and tutored middle-schoolers during the four-week summer college immersion program offered by WCE in partnership with Columbus County Schools.

So what’s next? Hilton is conducting research this fall at Mary C. Williams Elementary to assess the effectiveness of using bilingual books as a means of strengthening English vocabulary. Over winter break he’s headed to Panama City to tour international academies. After graduation he hopes to land a job teaching there for a year so he can explore the Latin American culture and build fluency in Spanish before returning to the U.S. to begin a career teaching high school math and ESL.