English as a second language teacher Chad Poole of Elizabethtown spends much of his day traveling between schools.
The 46-year-old typically travels between two schools. This year he travels to seven, sometimes three in a day.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Poole came to Kentucky in 2001 to pursue a masters degree in linguistics at the University of Louisville.
His undergraduate degree was English Secondary Education.
Before coming to Kentucky, Poole taught abroad twice.
The idea came to him while working at an upscale department store. A customer came in and told him about his experience teaching language oversees. It was a random encounter that helped him figure out how to do something he’d always wanted to do.
For some time, he had a desire to find a way to live and work in a foreign country. In high school, Poole wanted to become an exchange student but his parents said any traveling had to be after college.
His first overseas trip was while he taught at a language school in Pennsylvania called FLS International. He participated in an eight-week teacher exchange program in 1999 and 2000. He had known Spanish and picked up some Portuguese while living there.
When he returned, he wanted to go again but was told there were no more teacher exchange programs. He gave his notice and lived in Spain for a year to teach English.
“It was the best year of my life,” he said.
He wanted to be immersed in a Spanish-speaking country to become more fluent in the language.
Shortly after returning from Spain, Poole moved to Kentucky to get his masters degree.
In 2013, he began teaching with Hardin County Schools.
As an ESL teacher, he’s often a support teacher for other classrooms. This year, as a part of the Newcomer program at EC3, he teaches ESL as a class. This program is for lower level English-speaking students, he said.
“Teachers know there’s a need because they see the kids at school and see the language barrier,” he said.
But others in the community may not know there is a need to help teach English as a language in this area, he said. He’s learning ESL families used to live in more urban areas but now are coming into more rural areas such as Hardin County.
A year after he started working with HCS he also started with the migrant education program as a tutor and academic advocate. He tutors two students once a week and is an advocate for the high school students at Central Hardin.
Shelly Bryant, a co-worker at Central Hardin, said she instantly became friends with Poole when they met five years ago. They both enjoy haunted houses, music from the 1980s and a good sale, she said.
“Mr. Poole has been a wonderful addition to the Hardin County school system and his ability to help students with a language barrier is exceptional,” she said. “Helping them to learn English allows those students to correspond not only in the classroom but in society.”
The ESL department is headquartered at the central office and teachers are sent out to the schools. Even though he’s welcomed at each school, he doesn’t always feel a part of it because he’s spread out to so many schools. He considers Central Hardin his home base and does things like chaperoning school dances to feel more involved with the school.
Even though students and fellow teachers may not see him more than once a week, he said he’s invested.
Taking the extra time to do a few things at Central Hardin makes him feel he’s a part of that team, he said.