Teacher Feature: Marietta’s Thurman teaches English language learners

New to Marietta this year, but not new to teaching is Randy Thurman. Thurman is a

1999 graduate of Ringling. The Detroit Tigers drafted him out of high school, but after

two shoulder surgeries, he said goodbye to his baseball career and hello to college.

Thurman earned his bachelor’s degree from Midwestern State University in Wichita

Falls, Texas, where he majored in Spanish and became certified to teach English

Language Learners.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do after college, so I worked for the Social Security

Administration for two years,” Thurman said. “I was not cut out for office and cubicle-

type work. I decided to give teaching a try, and 17 years later, I’m still here.”

Choosing to teach ELL students was more of a process than an epiphany. It began with

him attending college for a semester in Mexico.

“I loved the culture and the language,” he explained. “After college, I had several

manual labor jobs working alongside people from several different countries who spoke

Spanish, and I picked it up quickly.”

Thurman chose to teach ELL because he wanted to work with Spanish-speaking people

who are learning English. As they advance in the multiple language stages, students

are enabled to have success in school and real life.

Last August, Thurman began teaching middle and high school ELL at Marietta and has

earned the love and appreciation of his students, colleagues, and administrators in a

brief time.

“Mr. Thurman is awesome,” said Middle School Principal Carrie Tucker. “Being a dual

language speaker allows him to communicate and build relationships with students

while also being an advocate for them. He has stepped right in this first year and done

an amazing job!"

There are several things that Thurman enjoys about teaching ELL, for one, the smaller

class size.

“Teaching ELL is a more intimate setting than the mainstream classroom with 25 or 30

students,” he said. “ELL classes are small, with a lot of individual and small group

instruction, so you really get a chance to know the students and their background. Many

of our students have incredible stories of how they arrived in the US.”

But, as with any job, there are also tough parts. One is that, due to the numbers of

middle and high school students who need services, Thurman feels spread thin.

“I have a wonderful aide, Mrs. Olivia Carmona. She is great with the students, and there

is no way I could do my job without her,” stated Thurman. “I also give a lot of credit to

Stacy Scarborough, who runs the elementary ELL program. She is an exemplary

teacher. Maverick McClendon, our coordinator, is great as well. He goes above and

beyond for students and teachers.”

Thurman believes that the school district’s ELL program is good and still improving.

“From top to bottom, I think our ELL program is doing many good things and we plan to

continue to get better,” he said.

“I know there have been some negative things said about the district lately,” he said. “I

can assure you that Marietta is a great place to work. I have been treated very well by

both staff and administration, and I plan to stay for years to come.”